Bob Taylor was also on hand to present a parting gift and a bouquet of flowers to retiring tunnel steward Paula Luton, in the suite just after kick-off. The Association wish Paula a happy retirement, but I’m sure she will not remain a stranger and will be bringing her Grand kids along to the ‘Shrine’ one day soon to watch the ‘Baggies’.”
WEST BROMWICH ALBION 1 –v- TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0
Played at The Hawthorns-Saturday 5th May 2018
So, the curtain comes down on yet another Hawthorns campaign, and as this incredibly frustrating campaign, draws to a close, with just the Crystal Palace journey left for the ‘Baggies faithful’ to make, it’s now time to reflect I suppose, on a multiple of issues. However, I think that’s something best left to the powers that be to ponder over, and we, the fans, just enjoy the last leg of the roller coaster ride of emotion, that ‘one of our own’ Darren Moore has taken us through. When Alan Pardew was sacked, what seems a lifetime ago now, we were staring at the abyss, and disappearing into the Championship with just a whimper. One month and five games later, with an incredible eleven points from a possible fifteen, Albion have not only pulled themselves off of the foot of the table, but are still in with a glimmering hope of Premiership survival. A situation, no one in the football world would have thought possible, and if the match between Swansea and Southampton ends in draw, then it all goes down to the final day of the campaign, indeed a miracle in itself.
On Saturday, the mighty of North London in the form of Tottenham Hotspur strutted through the Hawthorns glass doors, seeking the win that would confirm Champions League football for them in their wonderful new stadium next season, probably determined to quell this Albion rebellion, under Darren Moore, but in the end had to throw their arms up in appreciation, as yet another stupendous performance by this revitalised ‘Throstles’ ensemble sent them packing, back down the M1 Motorway, with their very expensive tails between their legs, a feeling that Manchester United, Newcastle and Liverpool to a certain extent have felt in four weeks of unprecedented football.
After the game, I chatted with former Albion winger Kenny Foggo, a man who travelled down from north of the border way back in 1959, with none other than Bobby Hope, Campbell Crawford and the lesser known Bobby Murray, to forge a career in English football, with Albion, Norwich City, Portsmouth, Southend United and Chelmsford City, before hanging up his boots. When Ken left The Hawthorns to join George Lee at Norwich City, he had made no fewer than 136 appearances for the Throstles, scoring 29 goals, also scoring 50 goals in 114 Central League games for the reserves. In his time at the shrine, Kenny’s pin point passes were converted into goals by the likes of Derek Kevan, Jeff Astle, John Kaye and Ray Crawford, to name but a few and of course was a member of the side that beat Ipswich Town at Portman Road on the day that the club recorded the debut of a certain Tony Brown, back in September 1963.
I asked, this charming man of Scotland to run the rule over the performance he had just witnessed, be this rejuvenated Albion side.
“A great result. I think Albion deserved it, I’m sure there are others that will disagree. Given the quality of the Tottenham side, I thought Albion kept them very quiet and if anything, Albion had the better chances in the end, and of course got that late dramatic winner, so perhaps we can all dream again for another week!”
“I have to be honest. I have never heard an Albion crowd so loud. I don’t know if it echoes underneath that stand or not, (referring to the West Stand) but the noise from the fans was just incredible. Of course, when the goal went in, I think everyone was stunned for a few seconds and then it just went absolutely ballistic! So you have to say, it was absolutely great for the fans, so they can live the dream, if you like, for another week.”
Kenny reflected, “The game overall wasn’t much of a spectacle if I’m honest, until the ten minutes. I think the Albion boys realised they had to get a result, and Spurs just about did enough to get a draw, and they looked as if they would be happy with that result, so it was just extra special that the Albion nicked it in the end and kept all the fans happy really. I mean, they must all be in Dreamland tonight.”
“If I was asked to name a ‘man of the match’ for the Albion, I would probably have to give it to McLean. I thought he was outstanding throughout, he never stopped running, a real worker, and if the Albion had a few more players with his commitment, they would not be in the position that they are. I also thought that the centre half Craig Dawson, and of course Ben Foster, were also both outstanding. Chris Brunt, as usual, never lets you down, I thought Rondon tried hard, but was isolated a wee bit, it’s very difficult when you are on your own, he tried hard, you cannot deny that. Then just when you thought it wasn’t going to happen, it did, and getting that goal right at the end was just unreal, it really was. It was just incredible!”
Kenny continued, “I thought at first the referee had disallowed it, normally they point to the centre, but he didn’t. There was a bit of a melee of players and he was watching that! But the announcer said it was Livermore who got the goal, and all around us was just ecstatic. And with that win, if that doesn’t lift the players, well, nothing will I guess, but just seeing what it meant to them, and of course the fans, who for me were the stars today, and as I said earlier, when that goal went in, I’ve not heard a roar like that at the Albion….Ever!! And realistically, looking ahead to next season, before Darren took over, whereas thousands of the fans, even if we do stay up, would probably have said ‘I’m not going to bother next season, because this is just terrible’, but now of course with the dramatic events over the last few games, the improvement under Darren Moore, they must now be saying, do you know what, I think we might have a chance of coming straight back up, if indeed we are relegated. I hope they do, but then of course I suppose it depends on who goes and who stays, and who comes in doesn’t it?”
“I have to say in summing up, today has been absolutely brilliant. This is my first trip up this season, and it has been my best day for a long time I can tell you, because the last three times I have watched the Albion here, we lost 1-0 to Norwich, and 1-0 to Southampton, and if I’m honest, I was not expecting a great deal today, but it was way, way above my estimation. A great result and I have to say to the team “Well Played.”
Kenny Foggo-Laurie Rampling-May 2018.