Harty on the first game at The Amex

NO doubt a local sport trivia question for many years to come with the same player, Gary Hart, scoring the opening goals at both the Withdean Stadium in 1999 and then 12 years later the first at the Amex on Saturday.

Fitting because, not only has the other “Harty” been a great servant to the club, but he is also a top bloke off of the field and thoroughly deserves the legendary status bestowed upon him.

Due to a long-standing commitment, a 40th-birthday in Amsterdam, I wasn’t at the Amex on Saturday but I know plenty who were, including Hart Junior.

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When you build a £90million construction, there are always going to be teething troubles – in the same way that outside this sceptered isle, some view us as a nation of complainers.

I have heard various gripes about the Amex over the last 48 hours, ranging from queuing issues to the price of the beer and food.

As for the queuing and related transport issues, it wasn’t going to be plain sailing from day one. There is a lot that supporters don’t see at the club and one thing is the match-day organisation.

Mark my words, by the time the clocks go back, if not before, the Albion will have a slick match-day operation. You cannot go from having 7,000-or-so at the Withdean to 22,500 sell-outs without a few issues.

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I firmly believe they will be sorted, part of that solution is the “ramp-up” games from Saturday and the visit of Spurs on July 30.

With reference to the bar prices, I feel I have to defend the club on this one. They’ve extensively researched other venues, including a number of local pub prices in and around Sussex, and, I think, have come up with a fair pricing structure.

The over-riding problem is, whatever you do, someone will always complain.

Having visited the stadium on a number of occasions, I have a couple of observations, but nothing more than naming issues.

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The BUPA sponsored lounge would grace any sporting or corporate venue around the globe. I don’t know how much they have paid for the naming rights but I would have actually liked to have seen the “Mike Bamber Lounge, sponsored by BUPA” in recognition to the man whose ambition arguably started it all off.

And, on a sentimental note, but as a point of eternal gratitude by everybody connected with the football club, I would approach the council to re-name the road leading up to the stadium from Village Way to Harry Bloom Way, Tony’s late grand-dad who, with Mike Bamber, put the club on the map in the 1970s.

And, finally, Broadwater Cricket Week kicked off (between showers) on Monday with a 25-over contest between the home side and Ian Hart’s Spare Parts.

As we entered the final over with the home team needing nine to win, I’d almost began penning this column, with my team recording their third victory on the bounce.

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But, it was not to be. A hefty six from the veteran Mark Butler, two balls in, all but saw Broadwater over the line, and they eventually won off the penultimate ball.

Never mind, there’s always next year . . .

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