Garry Thompson in the Millichip
Former Albion goalscorer, Garry Thompson, was the guest in the Millichip Suite, at the Hawthorns last Saturday, when he entertained fans, prior to them travelling the few miles down the Witton Road, to Villa Park. Just before Garry commenced his duties, part of the club’s ongoing arrangement, with the Former Players Association, I managed to ‘grab’ a few words on next Saturday’s exciting clash with the ‘Reds’ from Anfield.
Yet another big game next week against Liverpool, I suggested to the former Albion, Villa and Coventry leader. What are your memories of clashes with the ‘Reds’.
“Throughout my career, all I can remember is getting a good chasing against Liverpool. Even when we played at the Albion. We always tried to play good football, but in fairness they were always on top. They had the likes of Souness and Dalgleish, and when those two had finished playing about with it, Hansen, Lawrenson, then Ian Rush would finish it off. So, not too many happy memories, especially of going up to Anfield to play. I remember we had some good games here at the Hawthorns, and I am really looking forward to the game next week”
Garry continued. “Obviously looking at Albion’s start to the season, and you have to say they had some tough games to start with. But, the good thing about Roy is, he doesn’t panic. He is on an even ‘keel’ all the time. He didn’t get carried away when Albion did well last year, and he wont get carried away now. It will be a very good game. I know Kenny has spent some money, probably a bit too much on some of the players he has brought in, but he wanted some young English players in there, to get the feel and know the Premiership. I think Liverpool are developing nicely, and I also think it will be a very, very good game. If Shane Long and Peter Odemwingie are fit, I think they will give them a decent game.”
You say you do not have too many good memories against Liverpool. Did you ever score against them.
Garry with MC Brett Gibbons
“I honestly can’t remember, I probably did, but if I’m truthful I can’t remember You’ll have to look it up for me Laurie. All I do remember, all of the time, is Jan Molby or Hansen, getting hold of the ball, all of the time. They would sort of split and make the pitch as big as possible. You ended up chasing between the two of them. If I’m playing up in front with Cyrille, and Cyrille being quite bright, he would drop a bit deeper, and I would just chase around like a whippet, and they just wouldn’t let me get the ball. They just kept me running around. Then all I can remember is watching them and then see someone like Craig Johnson, turn on the ball, and it give it in to Rushys feet. He would lay it back, and Dalgleish or Souness would get involved. You could feel it ‘bubbling up’ and then there would be a goal. This was probably more so, when I played at Coventry City. I think we got beat 4-1 once, when Mark Hateley missed a penalty. I can’t ever remember having a good time up there, but have definitely had some good games down here, especially with Albion at the Hawthorns. As for the fine detail, all I can say is, as you get older the memory goes a bit!”
Thommo, then reflected games against Aston Villa. “You were talking about Villa and Albion. I remember one year, we got beat 4-3 at the Villa and we beat them 3-1 At the Hawthorns. It was the day the snow came down, and that is what everyone talks about. I can’t remember if I scored two goals or one against them that day, I honestly can’t remember. Either, I got two and Cyrille got one or visa versa. You’ll have to ask the big man.”
Talking to both Bomber and Cyrille recently, and both agreed that you play so many games in your career, it is difficult to remember them unless something about the games stand out.
Absolutely There are certain games that will stick in your memory, just like the Albion game when the snow came down. That’s what all the albion fans always talk about. I remember well my debut for Albion against Arsenal, when we drew 0-0. I tried to chip Pat Jennings and didn’t get much joy with that. That’s what makes it stick in the memory. Certain thing stick in your mind, like the defeat against Plymouth in the cup. We should have got through to Wembley that year. I remember ‘Gilesy’ talking me into playing. I shouldn’t have been out there. I had 15 stitches in a lip wound, and in the end you look at it and I know I should have dropped out. But as a player, you want to play all the time. Now, I look at it years later, and have to say, that was our best chance of getting to Wembley. Ever! I think Watford got there in the end, against Everton in the final. I think we would have made it a better game, and a really good occasion. I honestly believe we would have had a better game against Everton, but of course its all ‘ifs and buts’, isn’t it.”
Kenny will be looking for a bit of revenge, after Albion beat ‘the reds’ 2-1 last year, wont he? I Suggested to the former Albion leader.
“Yes I make you right. He doesn’t take defeat well, does he. He doesn’t even interview well! It’s because he wants to protect his club, and he will feel it personally, every defeat. He will remember Brunty’s two goals last season, and he will be looking at it, and want the win badly. He is just like ‘Fergie’. He has a good memory about things and they will take great pleasure at beating Albion, and he will want to beat us well. Having said that I think Albion will be more than a match for them. It could be a very, very good game.”
Roys putting together a very good side again now isn’t he. I suggested to Garry. He admitted his tactical mistakes in the Fulham game, and he has put it right straight away, and admitted that he was wrong.
“The good thing about managers like Roy Hodgson, who have been in the game a long time. They don’t panic. If they make a mistake they are big enough to say ‘yeah’, I made a bit of a ricket there. Remember, this man has managed Inter Milan and managed all over the place. In fact, people were potentially saying he could be the next England manager not so long ago. He is big enough to say ‘Yeah’ I made a mistake there, and he will learn from it. You don’t stay in management as long as he has, without learning from your mistakes and developing things. He has developed a lovely feel about this club. I come back here over the years, and sometimes there is a nice bubbly feeling, and sometimes it doesn’t feel right. At the minute it feels like the club is moving forward, and I think Roy can take it further forward, than I have known for a long time.”
OK Thommo, now putting you on the spot, what is your prediction for the game next week.
“I would like to think that Albion could nick a win. It might come down to another Brunty penalty. But, if Odemwingie or Long get going, they have got goals in them. Odemwingie has had a bit of a dodgy time injury wise, he has been playing but has not been right, but apparently he is now close to being right. You get him fit and firing, and Shane Long, who I think has been a great signing. Those two are going to be a match for anyone in this division.”
Garry Thompson/Laurie Rampling-October 2011.