WEST BROMWICH ALBION 4 –v- WEST HAM UNITED 0
At The Hawthorns – Saturday 17th September 2016.
“Once again…..the meeting of the ‘Two West’s’ produced a bumper harvest of goals….Going back to the early sixties….indeed the late fifties…games between the two sides have always produced goals….and comebacks!! as seemed quite possible on Saturday afternoon.
In the Corporate suites, The star studded Scottish ‘duo’ of Chairman Ray Wilson and legendary centre back Ally Robertson entertained royally as always, and of course the statutory catch up with the ‘Doc’ Roger Rimmer, in the Bassett Suite.
On the other side of the ‘Shrine’….President Brendon Batson OBE MBE, was joined by Stan Jones, Joe Mayo, Ian Hamilton, Paul Raven, Tony Brown and Norman Westbury in the Regis Suite, who all mingled with other guests for the ‘goal-laden’ afternoon.
Chairman Ray Wilson, finally brought the curtain down on proceedings for a memorable afternoon, interviewing two goal hero Nacer Chadli, in the Millichip Suite, much to the delight of the Corporate guests who had remained rooted to their seats waiting to hear from Albion’s record signing.”
Throughout history, well, looking back to the 1958/59 season that is when West Ham United first set foot in the top flight of English football, games between the ‘Throstles’ and the ‘Hammers’ have always produced goals in abundance, and stirring ‘come-backs’ that have tugged at the ‘Heart-strings’ of many a supporter of both sides.
The first three encounters between Albion and West Ham witnessed by myself back in the day, saw the ‘Baggies’ defeated 3-1 and 4-1 at Upton Park, before the sensational six goal thriller at the Boleyn Ground in 1961, when Alec Jackson, Derek Kevan and Don Howe all scored, to share the spoils with the Hammers, after being three nil down with just twenty minutes of the game gone. In 2004, Albion went one better, coming from the same deficit to win that game 4-3, and more recently at The Hawthorns, the Hammers found themselves 3-0 down at half time, but pulled the game around in the second period, and on another day would probably have backed themselves to have won the game. So, when Albion’s four goal advantage was reduced to just two half way through the second half on Saturday, I’m sure many an Albion fan’s heart was well and truly in their mouths, thinking the worst!
After the pulsating encounter, I have to say, the highlight of the day for me, was catching up with the Former Players Association Chairman, and Scottish International full-back Ray Wilson, to share his views, on what he had witnessed that afternoon.
With a beaming smile, and more than a little twinkle in his eye, he confirmed, “It was good fun. That’s as good an entertaining afternoon as I’ve had for quite a few years.”
Ray explained, “Sadly, we have got used to coming here for a nil-nil draw, a one nil, or certainly a low scoring game, but for us to be three up at half time, well, everybody was in seventh heaven, and we were good value for those three goals. We took every one of them well, and when the second half came, we were perhaps wondering if it was going to be a wee bit boring, after the first, you know what I mean?, just knocking it about, keeping the ball under control, don’t do anything stupid, because we don’t need to do anything stupid, after-all, we are three nil up! But then, we go four nil up! Well, this really is a case of ‘Oh well we will just yawn out the rest of the second half now’, and of course, in some ways, sadly that wasn’t quite the way it worked out. They got a goal back from nowhere and then suddenly they get another goal back, and we are all looking at each other thinking, no they couldn’t possibly do it, could they? So for the rest of the game, which is a good thirty minutes of the second half, it was just great entertainment.”
Ray continued, “From a purist’s point of view, you are maybe thinking, as a team we were shocking, that we should let West Ham come back into it, because we definitely started to stretch ourselves, when we had no need to do so, but on the other hand, that’s what entertainment’s about. We were trying to get a fourth and a fifth goal, and at the end of it all, everybody looks at each other, smiling thoroughly, having enjoyed it, and although the stats showed that we had I think, only twenty nine percent to thirty one percent of possession, that just shows you that it means absolutely nothing. What it is, and people forget about this, it was a six goal thriller, and we scored four goals in that six goal thriller. I thought it was great fun, and everybody around here has got a happy look on their faces, thoroughly enjoying it all, and I am now waiting on Nacer Chadli to come along, and have chat, because, what a good home debut he had, especially scoring two goals and showing a lot of confidence, picking up the ball, placing it on the spot and taking that penalty. He scored it, and set up another one later on for Rondon, until he got a bit tired, and got a bit of a knock, but he certainly looks good value, and Rondon of course did his usual thing, scoring a goal and setting up Chadli for the fourth. So, all in all, it was great fun, and for entertainment ten out of ten.
Ray Wilson-Laurie Rampling-September 2016.