“The penultimate home match of a long and difficult season, and the team, now led of course by Association member Darren Moore, once again stepped up to the plate, with a magnificent fight back to grab a point from Champions League Semi-Finalists Liverpool.
In the East Stand Suites, Chairman Ray Wilson, was joined by a Liverpool legend, the charming David Johnson, as the pair entertained the Corporate guests, pre-and post match. Paul Raven, Ian Hamilton and Bernard McNally, engaged themselves in a number of official duties, accompanying the stadium tours, visiting the Corporate boxes, and signing the clubs recently published book and DVD on the iconic 1992/3 season, brilliantly recalled by Programme editor Dave Bowler.
On the other side of the Shrine, Treasurer Norman Westbury and Secretary Geoff Snape, were joined by Jack Lovatt, Stan Jones, Bernard McNally and Paul Raven, after their various duties, and Mark Grew, who also visited the Darren Moore suite prior to the match. Of course, no match-day would be complete without a visit from the ‘one and only’ Tony Brown, who popped in to chat to old colleagues. Incidentally, Paul Raven also did a pitch-side pre-match interview for TV, along with former Albion striker Ricky Lambert.”
WEST BROMWICH ALBION 2 -v- LIVERPOOL 2
Played at The Hawthorns-Saturday 21st April 2018
Through-out the doom and gloom of the winter months, everyone concerned with the club we love, prayed for just a little bit of sunshine. Three weeks ago, the sun finally came out, and with the shrewd appointment of ‘one of our own’ taking control of the reins, I think it’s fair to say, everyone, from the Board downwards, started to walk with a spring in their step. Darren Moore’s first game in charge, maybe should have been the win we all wanted, but Swansea, also fighting for their lives, deservedly came back to snatch a point. However, you have to say, the level of performance from the lads was superb, and with another of our own, Chris Brunt taking over the captaincy, a little chink of light could be seen at the end of that long tunnel. Last week, who would have thought, that the level of performance from every player that pulled that famous blue and white striped shirt over their heads, would have been such, that a tremendously famous victory was achieved at possibly the hardest football venue of them all, Old Trafford, the home of Manchester United.
On Saturday, Liverpool, knew just how difficult their task would be, ahead of their Champions League Semi-final in the week, and perhaps rode their luck a little, before easing themselves into a two goal lead, and you would have thought, home and dry for the three points. However, I think it is right to say that this ‘Darren Moore’ side is made of sterner stuff, much in the mould of the man himself, and a terrific fight back, fantastically urged on by the crowd, saw the man that perhaps everyone wants to see score, Salomon Rondon, grab the last gasp dramatic leveller.
After the game, I caught up with a rather breathless Ray Wilson, and asked the former Albion and Scottish full-back to run the rule over a truly tremendous ‘Throstles’ performance.
“We knew it was going to be a tough match, and especially when you saw the team, because minus two players, Liverpool probably had their full team out, but even so, the two that came on, were Internationals in their own right, so they did not put out a weakened side, as a lot of people thought they would have done and that draw today, did us no dis-service at all. I thought we played very well over-all, even in the first half, when we lost an early goal. I thought we had drive, determination, aggression when it was needed, and in no small measure, did we also play very good football. The draw was an absolutely fair result, and I also thought the support from the crowd was absolutely tremendous, they really got behind the team, and this was probably the only game this season that I have watched and enjoyed because there have been few and far between good performances. I thought the crowd got right behind the side and I thought it was great towards the end, because given the awful position we are in, in the league, I thought it was wonderful that the fans were ‘with it’ and ‘with us’, as they were.”
“Is it a case of ‘too little too late’ Why have we left it so late, to turn up, so to speak.” I suggested.
Ray responded, “You know exactly why, I know exactly why, everyone in the ground today knew exactly why! As an ex-player, I’m not going to criticise anyone. We all know where the problems were. Yes, if we had taken action, whatever action that may have been, months ago, I would suggest, we would not be going down! Because, these guys out there today, if they had played like that, I think we could have been way up the league. This is my opinion of course, but look, Manchester United away, a win, Liverpool, possibly European Champions, at home, a draw, that’s not bad going! We have Spurs coming up, and I would suggest, we really have nothing to fear, but in my opinion, we have beaten ourselves this year, and probably, that’s the worst defeat of all.”
Ray continued, “All I want from the players is a hundred per-cent commitment. You don’t know when you are going to play well, you don’t know when you are going to play badly, you don’t know if the ball is going to roll for you or not, but! You have to give one hundred per-cent, and I’ll put a full stop right there, and sum up that today the team put in a first class performance and no poor quality football, there was some excellent football out there today. I thought we were first class, and Liverpool will probably be very pleased with that, because they had a tougher game than they thought they would have, and it keeps their performance levels high for the Champions League match on Tuesday night. We did them a favour and certainly the players did themselves a favour today.”
“And I guess, the goal now is to go unbeaten for the rest of the season.” I suggested
“That would certainly be a nice target to set them-selves, and I don’t see any reason based on that performance today, that it cannot be achieved. Certainly, based on the last two matches, why on earth, should you think anything other than that. Then of course, the problem comes, on how the future of the club is going to be approached next year, what players are going to be there, what players are coming in, what cuts are going to be made, because if you believe what you read, there will be cuts, so we have got to hope for a lot of positive things to happen in the summer. We shall have to wait and see.”
Ray Wilson-Laurie Rampling-April 2018.