10:31pm Monday 29th April 2013
By Tim Hodges - Put Those Floodlights Out!
If you had told any Albion fan at 3:55pm on the 3rd May 1997 that in 16 years time the club would be four wins from the Premier League and playing regularly in front of 28,000 at home in Brighton, they would have laughed sarcastically in your face and had you sectioned.
The club almost died that day and are now one of the most vibrant ,stylish and fashionable teams in europe , yes I said Europe.
Grown men weeping on the terrace behind the goal, ginger men weeping in the dressing room. That wasn't the only leak the Albion would have had . Their opponents the following season would have included, Leek Town, Stalybridge Celtic and Slough, if they had been relegated that day.
Of course there is no guarantee the club would have been allowed to play in the Conference, remember they were homeless, broke and the board was a joke, well actually by that time Dick Knight was in charge.
But ,The Dr Martens League was a possibility .
Of course they survived and now just 16 years later are those four (three really) wins from the Premier League.
Albion's biggest May for thirty years starts this Saturday, at home at the Amex to Wolves, themselves relegated from the Premier League last season and now staring League 1 in the face.
It could be trickier than many people think.
Wolves need to overturn a four goal deficit to overtake Peterborough , who are away to Crystal Palace.
Gus Poyet has stated he will pick his strongest team possible, but will he?
If Wolves get a sniff The Posh are losing , then it could all get very gung-ho, the last thing Albion want at this stage are injuries or suspension to key players. They can also catch Barnsley, but catching Barnsley and not Peterbrough is a bit like a broken pencil ......pointless.
And if Palace don't win at Millwall on Tuesday night (30th April) then Albion are guaranteed 4th place unless they (Palace) thrash Peterborough 14-0 on Saturday!
Then Wolves really will have their tails up.
Personally,I think we might be waving goodbye to Messrs, Brezovan, Painter, and Dicker, with George Barker and Jake Forster- Caskey , also getting a run out.
Albion haven't been involved in the Play-offs since they won the old Division 2 final at Cardiff in 2004.
Prior to that , and on their only other end of season appearance, since the nail biters were introduced, they lost at Wembley to Notts County wearing a chewit wrapper kit. And having to suffer that intolerable show off David Ellary. In early June 1991.
No- one can remember why it was in June, poor Perry Digweed wore tracksuit bottoms.
A win that day, would have given Albion a season in the final year of the old Division 1 and might of stopped Neil Warnock saying daft things for the next twenty years.
One last thing, 'No 4' Tony Grealish, a decent man and an Albion legend. Farewell.
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