22 March 2018


I spent this morning educating my Sunday League football team about Ribero via WhatsApp. This was quite the task, especially amongst the younger chaps who weren’t even born when the erstwhile kit manufacturer went out of business halfway through the 1993/94 season.

Of course, this has significant relevance to us Albionites: Ribero presided over three of the worst Albion kits in the club’s history: the home kit with matching blue and white shorts (the ‘deckchair’), the away kit that was a red and white mess (the ‘chewit wrapper’) and the home kit where they inexplicably included blue and white pinstripes.

For two seasons (1989-91), our kit was produced by Sports Express who, as my TSLR co-editor once told me, was the Albion’s invented brand. I’m hopeful my esteemed co-ed will write a book on that ill-fated in-house manufacturing experiment one day (this 2013 NSC thread concluded that Margaret from the club shop was Sports Express). Now, the Sports Express home kit for those two seasons was OK but the away kit was pretty ugly: tiny, little red and white squares.

Maybe it was because of this appalling kit (modelled here by club captain, Dean Wilkins, courtesy of the excellent Seagulls Programme website) that the club decided to employ an actual kit manufacturer in the summer of 1991. Well, actually, the decision to hire a professional manufacturer must have been taken before the end of the 1990-91 season because the Ribero ‘chewit’ kit was debuted at Wembley for the biggest game of my life (up until last season that is).

For a moment, let’s just explore this Sports Express advert and the clobber on offer a little further. The tracksuit modelled by the poor lady on the left was iconic around Nevill Road in the late 80s / early 90s and I really wish I owned one. I was a little late to the tracksuit party but I would soon be in an official club shellsuit (if I remember correctly, the flammable ‘matching’ trousers were about three sizes bigger than the shellsuit top. I suppose this was the era of MC Hammer).

Moving onto Deano, the shade of red on the shirt didn’t exactly match the glowing red short shorts and notice how the NOBO logo is red. This advert is taken from the first match of the 1989-90 Division 2 season so Margaret - sorry, Sports Express - quite possibly saw this and thought twice about using a red lettered logo on a predominantly red shirt. The one modelled by Wilkins, here, was quite possibly a prototype as the history books record the NOBO logo as blue (though it appeared in black at the 1991 Play-off Final). Confused? Yeah, me too.

One thing I really disliked about my shiny red shorts (I honestly don’t know how they made the shorts quite so shiny) was that they had a blue trim. The reverse was true of the home shorts: the overly glossy blue shorts were given a red trim. This had one serious problem: the shades of blue and red used were almost identical to the shades worn by C*****l P****e in the 1990 FA Cup Final and, even at 7 years old, I knew that they were just a bit, well, P****e-y.

And, as for the casual wear thrown on the floor in front of our models, whilst you can barely make them out, you can be certain that the Albion’s in-house team were most likely behind these designs. Though, 29 years and four different football grounds later and that situation has hardly been rectified (maybe that’s why so many people love our designs!)

Right, so where was I? Ah, yes, the club’s decision to employ Ribero which, as I mentioned, must have taken place sometime during the 1990-91 season. What a season it was, too, almost culminating in that last home match at home to Ipswich and actually terminating at Wembley a few goals against Millwall later. That Wilkins free-kick against Ipswich at the Goldstone and those Play-off Semi-final matches against Millwall meant that the Sports Express kits were synonymous with the kind of success they simply did not deserve.

At this point, you can only imagine that Sports Express / Margaret from the club shop / the Albion must have been cock-a-hoop with the Robert Codner, Mark Barham, John Byrne et al. They were, quite simply, putting the brand into the public consciousness - perhaps this designing your own kit experiment would pay dividends and we would soon be making kits for football teams the world over.

But, perhaps all the stitching had become too much for Margaret. This was, after all, a time before cheap labour from eastern Europe. So the club’s Directors, D.C. Sizen (Chairman), J.L. Campbell (VC), G. Appleby, R.A. Bloom (hurrah for your nephew), B.E. Clarke, P.F. Kent and G.A. Stanley (boo, hiss) came up with a cunning plan. They shopped around and, no doubt impressed by Ribero’s impeccable 1985 offering for Carlisle United, asked the company to design the Albion kits from the beginning of the 1991-92 season.

No doubt Greg Stanley chimed in with: “As I’m such as wonderful businessman, why don’t we get these Ribero chaps to design our new away kit for the trip to Wembley, even though it’s strictly speaking still the 1990-91 season? That should help sell a few more replicas.”
So it became that our match against Notts County under the famous twin towers will forever by associated with an abject display from a team surely too fixated on their hideous new kit to concentrate on winning a single football match that would seal promotion to the top flight. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that Ribero and the mismanagement of our football club (and probably not even close to being the worst element of mismanagement that season) cost us top-flight football for 18 years. And if you don’t believe me, just look at Clive Walker’s face in the photo above - he looks more embarrassed than when he got caught ‘accidentally’ revealing his naked body to that poor newspaper delivery girl.

Having lost our dream ticket to the big league, we would then discover the next treat that Ribero had in store for us: a traditional blue and white home shirt that was coupled with the unimaginably bad identically striped shorts, modelled here by an awkward John Byrne. And, as for the black NOBO lettering in the Play-off Final, we'll probably never know.

Looking back, what is even funnier is the record that these kits had. Including the 1991 play-off defeat, compare the Albion’s record under Ribero (1991-94, including the Play-off Final - Played: 165, Won: 55, Drew: 40, Lost: 70) to that of Sports Express (1989-91, excluding the Play-off Final - Played: 107, Won: 44, Drew: 22, Lost: 44). Sports Express kits made a Play-off Final and secured a win percentage of 41.1%. Ribero kits lost a Play-off Final, presided over a relegation the following season and only managed a win percentage of 33.3%.

But that wasn’t quite it for the Ribero kit crimes at the Goldstone. There was still time to produce a kit that was a twist on an Albion classic. They decided to produce a 1993-94 home shirt with pinstripes, modelled here by Kurt Nogan. This is, for me, right up there with the only two other home kit design disasters I’ve experienced: the one big blue stripe Super League effort from a very forgettable season at the Priestfield (1997-98) and when Dick Knight attempted to help Argentine striker sensation, Federico Turienzo, feel at home by swapping to a lighter shade of blue (2004-06).

Luckily for all of us, Ribero were dissolved halfway through the 1993-94 season and Margaret was allowed to appoint her preferred choice. Admiral had already made Steve Foster look stunning for England in Spain 1982 then pulled off one of the greatest ever Albion kits in 1995: our first ever third-choice kit of turquoise and black. I think the team only wore it once in a 0-3 pre-season defeat at home to Tottenham but I wore it far more than that - Nevill Road was teeming with them.

And that, kids, is the story of Ribero’s foray into making Albion kits. To be fair, at least they gave it a go and avoided the identikit trap that so many kit manufacturers (and stadium designers) fall into these days. Incidentally, I was a huge fan of the Sports Express goalkeeper kit, modelled here by the superb John Keely.

6 March 2018


“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Peter Ward forgave you.”

I have a confession to make. When C*****l P****e’s Glenn Murray clutched his cruciate ligament at Selhurst Park during our play-off semi-final first leg in May 2013, I viciously urged him to get up. Timewasting b*****d, I thought.

A fellow Albion fan in the row in front - a gentleman somewhat longer in the tooth - suggested that I pipe down and empathise with the poleaxed Muzza. Empathy has never been my strong point. It became I heated row. I uttered the word ‘traitor’ on several occasions and volleyed a barrage of sweary abuse at Muzza and the Albion fan.

Almost five years later, I admit I was wrong.

Glenn has now surpassed Bobby Zamora’s total goal haul for the Albion and I think I forgive him for his past mistakes. Well, that one big mistake. I feel like his road to redemption has been so great, that I owe him - and the fellow Albionite at Selhurst that night - a massive apology.

This season I’ve become re-infatuated by our number 17. When the number 17 bus passes me, my thoughts turn to Glenn. I stumbled across the number 17 lamppost on the morning of the Arsenal match, and my mind wandered towards our centre forward. I’ve just moved house, near a Murray Street - if we stay up, a permanent marker will ensure it becomes Glenn Murray Street.

Don’t get me wrong, I hated him for what he did to us back then. I was still very much on the Gus Bus and simply couldn’t fathom it being Poyet’s fault. I was absolutely gutted about his leaving because somehow I had become a huge fan of Muzza without even realising it. He was the first regular goalscorer post-Bobby, and I had never wanted to think of Murray as highly as that. (As it turns out, Poyet took us all for fools.)

Since Glenn has returned, he has slowly won me back over. At first I was sceptical - and there is still anger on occasion (that missed penalty brought out our fickle hatred). But now, I realise he must go down as one of the greatest Albion strikers of all time, and you have to respect that. I still call him 1 in 10, Glenn and I still sing the rude version of the Murray Wonderland song, but this boy is class and I think I now realise it. He’s scored more than Bobby; he’s almost scored more than Ward; and he’ll probably score more than everyone else in our history ever, other than perhaps Tommy Cook.

Goals help. The more Glenn scores - and the more he celebrates with the kind of passion he possibly didn’t display the first time around - the more I forgive. But this season, in particular, has not just been about goals. It’s been about work rate, hold-up play, successful aerial battles and - most importantly - making the right decisions at the right time. This bloke has done more for my football club than my potty mouth ever will. He deserves forgiveness for it all. And it’s not just forgiveness I have for him now - it’s love.

Plus, GM has blossomed into a really decent looking bloke. That fresh faced kid who was seemingly offside 90% of the time at the Withers was an ugly duckling. This second stint Glenn Murray is a beautiful swan.

Muzza plays and speaks with the maturity of a 34-year-old now. His post-match interviews are soaked in entirely the right tone. It is clear to see that the striker is enjoying his football now more than ever - possibly as a result of the career end coming into view. He loves scoring goals; and we love seeing him scoring goals.

Following the Arsenal win, I stumbled out of the North Stand slightly inebriated. There was Glenn. It was fate. One nervously taken selfie later and I realised I had to apologise for the abuse I gave him that night at Selhurst. Perhaps I’m more mature now, too?

I stopped short of discussing his tax affairs but I'm genuinely up for starting a crowd funder to pay his tax bill. Just as long as the fund doesn't also help Steve Parish or Dexter Blackstock (allegedly).

There’s only one thing that will always irk me, just how legendary could Glenn have been had he not wasted a few seasons up the A23?

31 July 2017


Keep up to date with Marco van B**tard's Albion summer diary...

Saturday July 22nd
Albion, it is sometimes proclaimed, lift moods when skies darken. Rarely has there been a more literal realisation of that yearning chant than today. With apocalyptic skies shooting down waves of rain, Solly March barely gives Albion fans the chance to negotiate Crawley’s overwhelmed commercial operation (why offer tickets on the turnstiles when you can make everyone squeeze through a phone box-sized ticket office?) before side-footing Albion into the lead in their first domestic encounter of pre-season.

More than half the crowd are in the away end to watch a collective stroll comparable to Warren Aspinall’s ambling appearances ensue: there’s impressive Ingolstadt ingratiation as the least recognisable pair in the starting line-up, Markus Suttner and Pascal Gross - both, helpfully, with short dark hair, harking back to the Gus days, when all the players shared one clipper length - combine for the midfielder to score the second.

Reading unbound Tomer Hemed and flying Scotsman Jamie Murphy repeat their feats of Dusseldorf the previous week to make it 4-0 at half-time, before Connor Goldson (hooray!) heads in from a corner and Glenn Murray scores a penalty to underline his disdain for a foul on him by Kaby Djalo, a man so short he makes Mathew Ryan, who might as well have spent the entire game watching Neighbours repeats, seem a giant.


27 July 2017


Regular TSLR contributor, Marco van B**tard has penned an article on his blog - The Blue and White 'Un - charting a week in the life of the Albion.

Saturday July 15th
Albion are close to netting Neto. Little more than a year after struggling to entice players destined for Norwich’s bench, the club is on the brink of its first Brazilian, who presumably senses more than a whiff of the Copacabana about Lancing, where he arrives to sign for a record-rupturing fee from Gent.

A new midfielder would be timely: “There’s no point in thinking the worst,” soothes the Hughmeister, trying to ignore the idea of being relegated by November if the injury Anthony Knockaert sustained the previous night, in a 2-0 win against Fortuna Dusseldorf in Austria, turns out to be as much of a Knockaert blow as the case AK’s foot is now enshrined in suggests.

Sunday July 16th
The net result is we’ve net got Neto. Turns out one of the Brazil-via-Belgium budget-buster’s knees is as reliable as a toothpick in a swordfight. The club, in characteristic “we don’t comment on speculation” style, say nothing, but the player’s agent is believed to have left Lancing in a sweary flurry, furiously waving a photo of Paul Kitson in Albion colours.

Neto could find solace in the Instagram advice offered by one midfielder who almost definitely is incoming: Mathias Normann, Fotballspiller and proponent of the phrase “you have to fight through the bad days in order to earn the best days”. Normann's a Norwegian from Bodø/Glimt, a second tier side whose supporters occasionally demonstrate their loyalty by carrying giant yellow toothbrushes into games.

10 February 2017


Over the six years of hard-copy TSLR fanzines, no contributor was quite as prolific as Marco van B**tard. Since we're posting very little on the blog these days, we think you should all pop across to read MvB's very own blog, The Blue and White 'Un. In his latest post, MvB takes us on that bizarre journey to Griffin Park last week.

The thing about possessing genius is that you don't get to summon it automatically. Sometimes it isn't there at all. Sometimes the pieces of you that embody the genius go cold. If Albion were a writer, they'd have suffered a block in this match on a par with the dearth of imagination, say, that sees blogs like this stumble inconsistently on for years and years.

Forty-five terrible minutes - like, mountainous cat sick awful, no point, the motor never running, on that narrow Griffin Park pitch which so often has seemed claustrophobic to them over the years - and then at least another 20 in the second, with a sort of unfocused desperation powered only by the spiralling fumes of a half-time team talk.

5 July 2016


Last summer, us Albionites were treated to the wonderful homecoming of Bobby Zamora. This summer we’re being treated to the wonderful homecoming of Glenn Murray. What exciting return can we expect next summer? Kurt Nogan?

When news filtered through to TSLR Towers last weekend, the race was on. Which issue did we publish the famous cut-out-and-keep Murray hand? After searching through the vault, we found it (TSLR028, in case you were wondering). Better than that, we found an electronic version to adorn the top of this very post.

When Albion let Muzza leave for free five years ago, I was gutted. When he signed for C*****l P****e later that summer, I was lived. But back then, I trusted in Gus - and if he felt Murray wasn’t worth the wonga, then who was I to argue? And I was confident that the money saved on Glenn’s contract would be better spent elsewhere.

Indeed it was. At the time, spending loads of money on Craig Mackail-Smith seemed the perfect response. CMS was the only player to score more goals (27) than Glenn Murray (22) during our 2010/11 Division 3 title winning season. So, in July 2011 there I was, wishing Murray the worst of luck at P****e and looking forward to witnessing CMS destroy away teams at our brand spanking new football ground.

I knew then that time would be a healer. And indeed it was. In fact, by the next summer things were already better, and we were far more positively reflective of Muzza’s contribution to the good ship Albion in this July 2012 post. And that was even after the famous #FFSMurray scoring against us incident.

I completely understand that some Albionites will forever hate Glenn for joining our rivals five years ago, and will always struggle to welcome him back. But it’s a great signing. After our lack of goals (two, precisely two, actually) ultimately cost us a place in the top flight last season, bringing in someone who knows where the net is will always be a great move.

Last year I analysed some Albion strikers and their goals to cost ratio. I worked out that - based on transfer fee only and not wages - CMS cost £119k for each goal he scored for the Albion. Gary Hart had been the cheapest of strikers I bothered looking up - at £23.26 per goal. The most expensive? Jason Peake's only goal cost us £120k. Muzza? Under £10k a pop.

And whatever you think of Glenn at 32 years old, if he has a 30-goal season for us next year, he’ll be an all-time top five Albion goalscorer. Right up there with Bobby. And, if it fires us into the top flight, he’ll be an all-time legend too. Despite his love of the scum up the A23 and the offside flag, there’s no denying the Cumbrian’s quality.

Welcome home, Muzza. Let’s hope for a decent cup draw this season - then maybe, just maybe, it’ll be some plonker at Selhurst saying ‘FFS Murray’ this time.

25 April 2016


It was absolutely superb to join Charlton fans in their very valid protests at The Valley on Saturday. I was honoured to play a very small part in their good natured demonstration against their evil dictators. Sure, I may not be sat here writing this had the home team picked up three points*. But it was nice to remember that football doesn’t always begin and end with trying to win promotion.

No matter how far we escape from the memories of our own ownership battle of the 1990s, they will always resurface in another team’s hard luck. Other unscrupulous ‘owners’ will take other teams to the brink, and it always reminds me of how hard we had to fight. It doesn’t matter whether you dislike the team** going to the wall, we should always swallow our pride because, ultimately, we - the fans - must face these fools together.

We spend so much of our football supporting lives learning to hate - and actively hating - others. At the moment, I hate Burnley, and Derby. And I’m sure most of you do too. So, on the odd occasion we get to unite, it is something special. And we almost always unite with Charlton fans. They hate P****e, so do we. We both played ‘home’ games away from home. We both won fan-led battles against horrible people.

It was great to see so many Albionites involved in Saturday’s protest, and it always leaves me with such pride to see us join in and show solidarity to football supporters who need us. It happened to us so it should not have to happen to them. Let’s face it, beyond Mr Bloom, it could happen to us again. Whilst queuing for the train home, I spotted someone with an ‘Oyston out’ scarf. Solidarity: this is what we’re good at.

And we owe Charlton especially. The Addicks had their own laborious ownership battle that led them having to ground share with C*****l P****e (the horror, the horror) during the 1980s. When a consortium of supporters bought the club in 1984, the previous owners kept the Valley. When they finally got their home ground back, Greenwich Council refused planning permission for the renovations needed.

So, what did the Charltonites do? They created a political party, won support and seats in the 1990 council elections and put pressure on the council to get what they wanted. A model, successfully reimagined by a whole plethora of devastated Albion fans a decade later and beyond. They proved we could succeed, and we did. And look at us now.

Charlton back then proved fan-power could win. Albion did too. Charlton can do it again. And many other clubs will have to do it in future. That’s why we MUST support these protests. Yes, they may have been momentarily frustrating for the players in our promotion push. But these players won't be with us forever, they can cope (and cope well they did). It doesn't matter whether Charlton fans turned up on Fan’s United at the Goldstone or whether they signed petitions supporting us - we have to support them all** because we know what it feels like. And it's heartbreaking.

Credit to all Albionites who joined in the chanting, the marching, the protesting, the blowing up beach balls and balloons. Credit to all Charlton fans who planned the protests, gave us balloons, beach balls, marched, applauded the Albion fans. Credit to all at CARD (Coalition Against Roland Duchatelet) who will keep fighting for the heart of their club. That club is lucky to have you.

And a special mention for the stewards who tried to confiscate balloons that had not EVEN been blown up as I entered The Valley. Well done, you did a sterling job. I’m sure Duchatelet will give you more than the national minimum wage for your efforts. And you should have checked my pants!

Football is far bigger than making the top flight this season. Sometimes it’s really rather easy to forget that. On Saturday in south east London, it was all I could think of.

*Or had the home team won thanks to a goal that deflected off a beach ball
**As an Albion fan, you have permission to refuse to support the supporters of P****e or MK Don’ts

15 April 2016


I was minus six years old in 1978 but we’re all aware of the stitch up at The Dell. If you’re too young (and let’s face it, I am), Albion legend has it that Southampton and Tottenham played out a draw in their final fixture of the 1977-78 season so both were automatically promoted to the top and Albion missed out. We were stitched-up, denied a place in the top flight for the first time in our history. Indeed, Albion’s 2-1 home win against Blackpool wasn’t enough to clamber into that third automatic promotion spot at the expense of Southampton or Tottenham. Almost 40 years later, many Albionites still see this as a conspiracy.

Southampton did honourably hit the post in the dying minutes, apparently. Had that gone in, it would have relegated the North Londoners to fourth position and history would have changed. Albionites have always told me that it was a stitch-up, though I can’t help but feel Tottenham’s last home match of the season was more so. Was it a carefully planned post-hitting, perhaps, to pour cold water on our conspiracy theory? Other than that post hit, Southampton and Tottenham fans have since suggested it was an awfully dull 0-0 - so there is still suspicion. But what’s the use of complaining 38 years later?

And at least it didn’t really affect the Albion the next season. Even more well known is the legend (or is it a myth?) that the Albion stormed to promotion the following season (albeit behind Terry Venables’ C*****l P****e) and secured their first ever season in the top flight.

The thing is with football, there’s always chance to make some kind of amends. So I propose this…

Using the Sky Sports Championship title predictor (notice how Hull’s fixtures are still included but the title quietly leaves them out), I propose that we continue our great run of form with two home wins and then another at Charlton, maybe drop points at home to Derby. Burnley drop points against Middlesbrough and perhaps at Birmingham and Lancashire rivals, Preston, too. Middlesbrough possibly drop points against Birmingham and Burnley but maintain form.

It all comes down to the final match, away at the Riverside. Albion and Middlesbrough need a point apiece to secure automatic promotion and leave Burnley’s promotion chances languishing in the lottery of the play-offs. Kick of commences. It’s harder than it was in 1978 for both teams to simply stand on the pitch with the ball in play. This is partly because the Sky cameras are once again filming the famous blue and white stripes and showing the game live. Partly because of Twitter. 90 minutes of each team aimlessly kicking the ball back to each other is finally up. The whistle blows. Both teams are promoted.

And then Joey Barton and his team-mates and the Burnley fans can still be telling people about the famous stitch-up at the Riverside in 2054.

If you’re interested in how we beat Tottenham in April 1978 to make the stitch-up possible, read the excellent Goldstone Wrap post about that match.

7 December 2015


We have spent many a blogpost and fanzine article down the years hideously criticising the club's marketing department. And rightly so. But, credit where it's due, the club's new half season ticket advert is a stunning sign of how far we've come.

It is nothing short of wonderful. Sure, the 'actors' could still do with some training - especially the parents - and Kazenga could do with some lessons in how to avoid uncomfortably hugging a child. But seeing this advert yesterday added yet another string to Albion's latest wonderful weekend bow.

The credit to the club is not just confined to this advert. Much of the credit comes from the incredible decision to create and distribute for free these pop-up desktop players. Whoever came up with that deserves a massive pay rise, and the contrast with some marketing decisions of the past could not be greater (the best free gift since the play-off clackers, perhaps).

When I was a lad, the closest I got to collectible Albion players was a half page in Panini's Football League '95-'96 sticker book (there were only three stickers the following season after relegation to the bottom tier) and a few Pro Set cards in seasons before. Now, you can collect Albion players without having to buy thousands of stickers of players from other league sides.

The premise of the advert is that kids think these pop-ups are actually the real players. But it's not just the kids. Ever since my mini-Bobby Zamora arrived in the post, I have literally been talking to him like he's Bobby. It turns out, I'm not the only one.

It's not just this advert where the club's PR has drastically improved. The 'Together' slogan in place this season has also been a nice touch. It was made more prevalent by the Shoreham air tragedy and the club was never to realise at the start of the season how apt that would be. But the focus on the collective effort throughout the club can never be divisive.

Last season's slogan was laughable in hindsight. 'One Club, One Ambition' may have sounded perfect at the start of a new season, having made the play-offs the previous year. But Hyypiä's reign took us to the brink, and that one ambition was simply to retain our second tier status. That slogan was plastered on the club shop alongside a huge image of Jake Forster-Caskey. A player who, at the start of 2014-15, we expected great things. It didn't quite work out like that.

'One Club, One Ambition' would actually be more appropriate this season really, which just shows how marketing slogans can be made or broken by performances on the pitch. The use of 'Together' this season, and a club shop plastered with large images of several players (including one from the women's team) nicely takes the pressure off individuals. And, collectively, we've been great.

This advert also shows that I may be able to add other pop-up players to my Bobby and David Stockdale collection. Who knows? Maybe one day, I'll have a full squad to talk to.

What do I want for Christmas? Well, apart from Albion players greeting me on Christmas morning, can I ask for a pop-up Colin Hawkins?

26 August 2015


Last night's result at Walsall was perfect in the end. Maybe not as perfect as our last visit (above) - and I don't suppose the 400-odd hearty souls who travelled will agree. But, just think of the hours that will be saved in not having to prepare for a defeat in the next round against Chelsea. Let's face it, the only decent thing about the Tottenham League Cup match last season was taking a selfie with Leonardo Ulloa whilst hanging out in the away stand.

Maybe it's because I was born in 1984 - a year after the club's FA Cup final - that I have never cared much for a cup run. Perhaps it is due to the seemingly endless Auto Windscreen Shield matches or the fact Albion tend to back up a giant-killing with a loss to a lower league team in the subsequent round. Maybe it was Canvey Island?

I have always wondered - and one day maybe I'll do the maths - just how many playing hours the club has wasted winning LITERALLY NOTHING in fruitless cup ties down the years. In 1908, Albion played three matches in one FA Cup round against Preston. We lost the second replay, at least six wins away from a final.

How many hours have we wasted playing games? Even if we had played just two cup games a season throughout history, that's almost 20,000 hours of playing time we'll never get back. And when you start to factor in travel time, pre-match training and extra time, the hours to trophy ratio just keeps getting worse.

And how much has it cost the club throughout history to win one Jewish Chronicle Cup and a few Sussex Seniors? How much did it cost to put up our squad in the Walsall Village Hotel & Leisure Club on Monday night? How many coach petrol tanks have we emptied trying to secure a place in the next round of the Micky Mouse Trophy in Gillingham? It all just costs money and time we will never get back. And what for? One cup final, a southern area JPT final and a load of heartbreak.

There was a year when Albion forgot to apply for the FA Cup (I forget when, before my time) and had to go through the qualifying rounds. I suggest that, from next season, we simply withdraw from all cup competitions. They are literally a waste of all of our lives. And we will never win nothing. Sure, the league trophies to playing hours ratio isn't great, but it's better than 0 in 20,000 (well, the Jewish Chronicle was a pre-season cup and the Sussex Senior is for the reserve team).