Ian Hart: Albion or Joshua – a sporting dilemma

Sam and Ian Hart (left and right respectively) with Anthony Joshua

Sam and Ian Hart (left and right respectively) with Anthony Joshua

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T o quote the words of The Clash, should I stay or should I go?

There’s an old saying “If you dance with the Devil, be prepared to get pricked by his horns!”, and a change in schedule in the Albion’s exciting quest for the Premier League has left Harty Junior and I with a sporting dilemma.

Saturday, April 29, promised to be potentially one of my most exciting days watching live sport in 44 years and six days, since my dad first took me to the Goldstone Ground on Easter Monday, 1973.

The Albion were due to play Bristol City at the Amex, 3pm kick-off, the last home game of the season, possibly the game that clinched promotion, or subject to a potential Newcastle collapse, The Football League Championship itself. That was going to be followed by at 5.30pm a fast car taking a group of 12 of us up to Wembley Stadium for the heavyweight ‘super fight’ between Anthony Joshua and the legendary Wladimir Klitschko.

Until last Friday that is, when Sky Sports dropped the bomb the Albion, due to TV coverage, have had their kick-off time moved to 5.30pm!

Like it or not, I appreciate that the riches live TV brings is now a huge part of domestic football, and you would wonder where our national game would be without it (and what some of the players would get paid?)

The Albion, due to their impressive form, are getting their fair share of TV coverage this season, in fact they seem to be getting more air time than Nigel Farage now, which isn’t a bad thing, but this latest re-scheduling has put us in a real quandary.

Well I say us, Harty Junior, although knowing Anthony, and partly the reason for getting a block booking of tickets in a sell-out fight, has already made his decision.

Given that we both think, with careful recruitment, the Albion could potentially stay in the top flight for many years, they will only possibly go up once in the foreseeable future. As Sam (Harty Jnr for the uninitiated) points out, Joshua will go on to be one of the greatest boxers this country has ever produced, with future fights against the likes of Fury, Wilder, Parker and others for the next decade.

Therefore, he will send his good wishes to Wembley Stadium but, to directly quote him, will take part in the celebratory Amex pitch invasion at around 7.15pm on the Saturday night, and send me a Snapchat in the process.

As I type this column at the end of March, I still can’t decide where I will be just after 7pm on that Saturday night.

Pardon the pun, but at heart I’m still that eight-year-old boy standing near the corner flag in the South West Corner, watching Norman Gall and co draw 1-1 with south coast rivals Portsmouth.

After years of more thin than thick, will the footballing gods now finally smile on old Harty?

I don’t want much, just Huddersfield dropping at least eight points in their next four games, coupled with an Albion winning streak, meaning it could all be wrapped up on Easter Monday at home to Wigan instead.

It’s not much to ask, is it?

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