Harty on the end of a long wait for Albion

SO the wait, for me at least, is nearly over.

Holidays dictated that I missed the first two games at the Amex, and while as I was being driven back to the airport in Turkey on Saturday, although part of me wanted to be at the Tottenham game, I’m actually pleased that my first game will be against Doncaster in the Championship.

Part of the reason is that I’m of that age that recalls April 26, 1997, when Doncaster Rovers played in the last-ever game at the Goldstone, so as opponents they have great significance.

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I cannot believe how far we’ve all come in the ensuing 14 years. Back then the Tories were in power, the Spice Girls were the hottest ticket in town and Michael Barrymore was the biggest star on national TV – how times have changed!

Like the thousands of others who packed the Goldstone that afternoon, the whole air of uncertainty was something that will probably remain with me forever.

Anything less than three points that day, would have seen the Albion drop out of the Football League and possibly into extinction, but Stuart Storer’s second-half strike, staved that threat off for the next seven days and on then to Hereford, and, as they say, the rest is history.

What if, we’d only drawn with Doncaster, or hadn’t got the point at Hereford?

I think we probably would have eventually gone to the wall, and under Dick Knight started again, possibly at Withdean.

The optimist in me believes that even in these dire circumstances, we would have emulated Aldershot and AFC Wimbledon and got back into the Football League.

But we didn’t have to, and with Tony Bloom now at the helm, we have a club and a stadium the envy of most fans outside the Premier League.

The start of the season brings the obligatory predictions. As regards to the Championship, if Sven’s signings can gel early at Leicester, then I think there will be no stopping the Foxes.

As for the Albion, it’s all very easy for us to get carried away, but I still would be disappointed with anything less than a top-eight finish, which unless the play-off pack are out of sight, means play-off contention.

The Albion in the play-offs come May?

After the rollercoaster we’ve had, don’t bet against it . . .

Allington FC are celebrating the 40th anniversary of their founding later this month and are anxious to contact the following former players, Micky Gasper, Ian Mutton and Tony John.

If anyone has any further information, please contact Tony Harvey on [email protected]

Hard to believe I know, but I turned 47 yesterday, sharing my birthday with such luminaries as Terry Wogan, Martin Sheen, Ossie Ardilles, Tony Bennett and King Frederick William III of Prussia (who sadly died in 1840) along with a local footballing legend, and a man who unbelievably can now travel free on the buses, Keith Rowley.

Happy Birthday, Rolo, no doubt we will hook up in the next week or two for a belated toast.