Only a Game…

Terry Wills ponders on a sad week at the Hawthorns.

Somehow, worrying about the result of a game of football is bought into perspective and never more so than the devastating shock news that Wales manager Gary Speed had taken his own life.

It was news that bought tributes from all that knew him; managers, players, and supporters. Totally unbelievable and along with all Albion fans, plus I’m sure supporters of every midland club, I would like to pass on my commiserations to his family and friends.

On to the mundane and the Baggies 2-1 defeat against a very in-form Tottenham Hotspur. For me, at present Spurs are playing a brand of football equal to any team in the Greed League. Pace, accurate distribution, and players that are very comfortable on the ball – they have the lot, and it’s to the Baggies credit that for much of the game they matched Spurs in all aspects. Indeed, if we hadn’t conceded a third successive Hawthorns penalty when winning through a Youssoff Mulumbu’s header, we could have gone on to pull off what would have been a shock result.

Was it a penalty? Opinions were divided and no arguing can alter the decision. What infuriated players and some pundits alike was that if the decision was correct then surely at least one infringement in the Spurs penalty area should have been rewarded with a spot kick? But taken all round, as I said last week, I expected Spurs to take the points despite the fact that at the end of the 93 minutes I and others were disappointed that an excellent all round display had failed to achieve what would have been a well-earned point.

Ironically, despite Spurs missing late chances to seal the game, had the Baggies capitalised on their chances, especially the one Chris Brunt arrowed into the Brummie Road to give us a 2-1 lead, then possibly it would have been Harry Redknapp having to reflect on his team leaving the Hawthorns bemoaning their misfortune. And where did that performance from James Morrison come from? Deservedly voted Man of the Match he was a revelation and let’s hope this is the first of many more. If so, it will be as if Albion had signed a new player.

What took the shine off the afternoon was the injury to Zoltan Gera – again devastating in its own way and a massive shock for Roy Hodgson, who after his performance against Bolton and his early sparkle against Spurs looked to become an invaluable ingredient in a revitalised set up.

With Peter Odemwingie now fit, (at least or the present) the Head Coach now has the problem of who to choose as his lone striker should he continue with a 4-5-1 formation. Shane Long or Peter Odemwingie? Chatting to supporters Long would be the proffered choice but then we don’t have to make the decision, do we?

This week it’s another tricky fixture as Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road will be difficult. Neil Warnock’s outfit are playing some good football again an away point could be considered invaluable. This is the first of three games, and along with the others, namely Wigan and Blackburn, it can do much to ensure we stay out of the relegation zone. Bearing in mind these are followed by a certain Manchester City and Newcastle United – need more be said?

Finally, more sad news on the passing of ‘super Baggies fan Vic Stirrup. He passed away at the age of 93 after supporting his beloved Albion for 87 years and among his devotion was cycling to and from Stoke in 1937 to witness the club’s record defeat.Vic been a season ticket holder since 1938 and chatting to him it was so apparent that West Bromwich Albion were the love of his life.

Farewell Vic from every Throstles/ Baggies supporter.