By Terry Wills.
So it’s all over for another season. No more games, no arguments for or against a particular team, or infuriating rival supporters with views they may have felt were stupid in the extreme.
For sure Survival Sunday did provide drama tensions that only a team who have experienced it before and its supporters can appreciate. Baggies fans still marvel at our ‘Great Escape’ that rivalled Hollywood’s filming of the Steve McQueen version.
As 3,000 Masked Albion ‘Bomber’ Brown supporters took over St James Park safe in the knowledge that whatever happened elsewhere we wouldn’t be fighting for our Greed League lives, it was the happenings around the country that occupied many fans’ thoughts!
“Wolves are going down,””Blues are staying up,” “Blackpool are winning,” “Wigan have scored,” “Blues have equalised,” “Wolves have scored again,” “Spurs have scored.”
The final whistle blew around the country and for our Midland clubs there were contrasting feelings of sheer delight and abject despair. For Mick McCarthy the former, for Alex Mcleish the latter.
As for Baggies supporters, we could leave Newcastle knowing that we’d been privileged to have seen a typical Albion display. Starting with shoddy defending. Resembling passing strangers. Another own goal. Were we going to finish on the back of what would be a demoralising defeat?
No way. Roy Hodgson’s refurbished Baggies, led by hat-trick hero Somen Tchoyi, took command and deservedly took a point back to the Hawthorns. And with millions being being paid for a highest possible League placing that had to be satisfying, much appreciated good news for the club’s finances.
As soon as Somen notched his first goal, Newcastle, from being an all out attacking army, found themselves on the retreat, giving the impression they would be happy to hold on for a point, and on reflection a draw was probably a fair result. My wish, for Albion to finish above the Villa, sadly didn’t happen. Their win over Liverpool gave them a one point advantage, and ironically our stoppage-time equaliser took them above Newcastle as well ,but for all that to finish eleventh was a very satisfactory conclusion.
What can Baggies fans anticipate during the close season? Certainly additional defensive strength -only relegated Blackpool conceded more goals, but as a counterbalance there were thirteen teams who scored fewer.
In a month’s time next season’s fixtures will be published and then, as usual, the arguments can, and will, start all over again! Until then, along with every Albion supporter, I can relax, wait and wonder, just who Roy Hodgson will recruit, and which players will be released? This will of course depend, as always, on just how much money Jeremy Peace will be prepared to invest, to hopefully ensure the dreaded second season syndrome, that’s proved so difficult in the past, won’t be repeated.
But being optimistic here’s hoping that at the end of 2011-12 we can look forward to a third successive season of top flight football.
Come on you Baggies!