Harty on . . . the Albion, Steve Evans and Amex crowds

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A LUNCHTIME holiday return and FA Cup commitments at Woodside Road meant I didn’t make it to the Amex on Saturday.

But I understand from those who did that the tribute to the victims of the Shoreham Airshow crash, and specifically the two young lads, Matt Grimstone and Jacob Schilt from Worthing United, was emotional, tasteful and ultimately fitting for the occasion.

Nobody’s perfect, not me, Paul Barber, Tony Bloom, Chris Hughton, all of us to a degree are flawed in some way or other. However, I have to say that the way the Albion have conducted themselves in not only the wake of the recent Shoreham disaster but also the death of Don Lock proves that, beneath the corporate animal, there is a heart within the club that will never be extinguished.

Back to footballing matters and I don’t think any of us could have ever imagined that, seven games in, the Albion would be five points clear at the top of the Championship.

Tuesday night’s game against Rotherham United was another classic of ‘job done’. To be fair, with the brand of attacking football Chris Hughton’s team are playing, the result should have been beyond doubt by half-time and, despite Rotherham pulling one back after Albion had doubled their 1-0 half-time lead, the result was never really in doubt.

There were a few palpitations in certain parts of the ground when the fourth official indicated there would be six minutes of injury-time.

Cries of ‘where did that come from’ can be clarified by a simple glance at the rules. Referees are required to add 30 seconds for each goal (we had two) and a similar amount of time for substitutions (we had six). That’s four minutes even before either trainer had to come on, which they did.

Maybe every official doesn’t do this, which highlights it even more when someone does it by the book, especially when the table-toppers are defending only a one-goal lead!

I did wonder, looking at the respective technical areas, with Rotherham rock bottom of the Championship, if it would be the last time we ever saw the enigmatic former Crawley boss Steve Evans managing at the Amex in a league fixture.

There is no disputing he is one of football’s more controversial characters, almost a throwback to the halcyon days of the 1970s.

He clearly is Mr Marmite. For all his antics in the dugouts and in the media, I think when his managerial shelf life comes to an end, in some ways, football fans around the country will miss him.

I still recall his appearances while at Crawley on my phone-in show. He was excellent value and I continue to find all his remonstrating and histrionics extremely entertaining, providing he never manages the Albion, Worthing FC and the England team.

As for the Albion, league match eight sees a visit to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

I’m not naïve enough to think the unbeaten run will extend throughout the 46 matches. However, a few more weeks before the inevitable first league reverse would certainly get the fans through the turnstiles at the Amex, as that is possibly the one downside in all of this.

While we all hoped by the fifth season at the Amex, the Albion would have experienced the Premier League adventure for at least one season, that’s not yet happened.

I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that, with the Albion top of the tree, they would be getting higher gates than they currently are.

Hopefully, with a fortnight’s break at the Amex, if the run continues by the time Cardiff arrive at the beginning of October, a 25,000-plus crowd will be in attendance.

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