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Terry’s Baggies Blog

DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE

02-10-2008

Albion will be hosting Fulham at The Hawthrons on Saturday, fresh from an historic win at Middlesbrough witness by Terry Wills.

56 years in the making and waiting!

Journeys to Middlesborough since 1952, via Ayresome Park and the Riverside, had virtually guaranteed Albion’s visits would end in either a draw at the best or a defeat at the worst.

Seasoned fans, fully aware of this lamentable record on Teesside, boarded the convoy of coaches in a ‘sombre’ mood but in direct contrast returned home some 11 hours later realising Albion were in the top half of the table if only a few hours. (Damn Portsmouth and Wigan for spoiling the party on Sunday!)

Now, realising a positive result this week at home to Fulham would consolidate our standing in the ‘Greed League’, there’s an air of optimism among the Baggies fans.

Hopefully on current form and a reversal of the kamikaze suicide defensive frailties witnessed against West Ham and Villa, the opportunity is there despite a seemingly ever lengthening injury list that sees players spending more time on a treatment couch than on the training ground.

Why the optimism? Simple answer! In the win at Boro’ Albion shocked not only the travelling faithful but, judging by Tony Mowbray’s post match comments, himself!

Since the opening game at the Emirates he’s been faced with two questions.

First “Who’s going to score badly needed goals” followed by “How do you stop conceding goals when playing ‘open’ football that leaves the defence stranded. Akin to a beached whale floundering and desperately seeking help from the likes of Greenpeace and volunteers to survive”?

Second answer first! You recruit a goalkeeper in Scott Carson who is rapidly approaching the form that gained him his first England cap which sadly turned out to be a poisoned chalice.

You have a defence comprising Paul Robinson who love him or hate him will ALWAYS give 100% for the cause. A Dutch signing in Gianni Zuiverloon who looks a class apart and is reportedly a January transfer target for Manchester United. (Message to the manager and chairman. SHOULD this be forthcoming politely put down the phone. Agreed every player has his price but not after six months surely?)

We move on to what’s been a lingering bone of contention. A reliable central back pairing. Leon Barnett, young, promising but still learning his trade. Does John Carew haunt his dreams? They would mine if I’d suffered his 90 minute nightmare just six days earlier.

New pairing and WHAT a momentous start! Jonas Olsoon. Swedish. Height 6 ft 4 in. Commanding in the air. Composed on the ball, always looking to create moves with accurate passing. Oh and as a bonus he also managed to nudge home the winning goal and what scenes of sheer unrestrained delight THAT provided for Baggies fans having a close up unrestricted view behind Boro’s goalmouth! Yeeeeessss!

His partner in ‘crime’? Ryan Donk. Another Dutch import. Possessing strength, aerial power, and the natural ability required in any player Tony Mowbray deems capable of slotting into his team. (And it’s a comforting thought that Abdoulaye Meite will soon be rejoining the squad to add even more competition for a starting place).

The midfield weren’t at their normal fluent best. Hardly surprising with Kim stretchered off in the first minute without kicking the ball, but they still played an important part. Robert Koren - willing and hardworking as ever. A quiet return for ex Boro’ players Jonathan Greening and James Morrison although Mozza’s two goal line clearances more than made up for any shortcomings going forward.

Leaving Borja Valero our record £4.5 million capture. Some supporters have questioned his signing but as he gets fitter and adapts to the relentless pace of Premiership football, his passing and creative ability will blossom as surely as buds in sunshine. If we ever experience the odd day or two of course!

The main topic during and after the game surrounded the performance of Ishmael Miller. He showed power and strength in abundance and in full flight he has attributes to worry the best of defence’s.

But in his natural eagerness to score his first Premiership goal he left Baggies fans plus Bednar and Valero screaming in frustration as he REFUSED to pass the ball when they were unmarked and looking in ‘almost impossible’ to miss situations.

'Tiny'. "We'll back you all the way and join in the celebrations when it finally arrives but until then remember the team has to come before personal ambition.

So that 56 years of fruitless travel ended with Baggies fans dancing and singing on the ‘terraces’ and congregating in joyous celebration while waiting to board the coaches back to the Hawthorns at the same time phoning fellow fans to describe what had turned out to be a thoroughly enjoyable LONG overdue victory.

None more than Larraine Astle who while chatting had a smile reminiscent of ‘King Jeff’ after he’d scored a trademark, magnificent winning goal, that won so many games for the Baggies, and the hearts of Albion supporters who’d been privileged to see him in his prime.

Now there’s a model for you Ishmael. Impossible to replicate but well worth the effort in trying!

A warm welcome back to the Hawthorns for Zoltan Gera but here’s hoping the new found determination seen at the Riverside isn’t trumped by the sight of Zolly whirling away in triumph to display his gymnastic talents because if he does we know only to well what that signifies.

"Come on you Baggies".

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