Ian Hart: Remember, it's a marathon not a sprint!

Rohan Ince in action for Albion against Barnet on Tuesday. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)
Rohan Ince in action for Albion against Barnet on Tuesday. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

Two weeks into the Premier League season, a number of Manchester United fans think they’ve already won the league with 36 games still to go.

Down at the other end, a minority of Albion followers are already predicting a season of doom and gloom resulting in relegation back to the Championship.


On numerous occasions, history has told us it’s a marathon not a sprint. In 1974/75, newly-promoted Carlisle won at Chelsea then beat Spurs at home to top the league after two games.

Normal service returned fairly quickly and they were relegated the following May in 22nd place (Huddersfield fans, please take note!).


The Albion have kicked off their top flight campaign against arguably the best side in the country, United fans please remember you’ve only played West Ham and Swansea, and then followed that up by playing away at a side who last season got to the last eight of the Champions League.


There are no easy games in this league but the Albion have had to kick off with two especially hard ones. Next up the visit to an in-form Watford won’t be easy, neither will the arrival of West Brom at the Amex, but after these respective 90 minutes we might have more room for optimism.


Having said that, even with parking the first two games of the season, Chris Hughton really missed an opportunity in my opinion this week with the League Cup game.


Rather than putting out a second string team and actually highlighting the frailties of our ‘back-up’ squad – I’d actually forgotten about Rohan Ince and Richie Towell – in frankly struggling to beat Barnet, he should have gone with a much stronger side, predominantly with first choice players, and treated the 11,000 or so Amex faithful to an emphatic win.


As it turned out, with the ‘City/Leicester hangover’ still prominent in the mind of most Albion fans, we all left the Amex on Tuesday distinctly ‘underwhelmed’.


One of the few positives was the first Albion goal of local striker James Tilley, clearly one for the future. Surely now his development needs a season-long loan in the Championship/League One rather than an Albion under-23 campaign?


To reiterate, after two games the trophy is not on its way to Old Trafford and by the same token the Albion are not yet relegated. Ever the optimist – despite almost everyone else I speak to writing them off – the Albion could yet spring a surprise this weekend and get those all important first points on the board.

The large attendance at Jeff Scarfield’s funeral service highlighted how loved and respected he was by his family, friends and colleagues and this Sunday, Goring CC are holding a special game in his honour.


The home side will take on an 11 made up of local players from other clubs, all of whom had a great affinity with the much-missed Jeff. It starts at 2pm and the usual excellent Goring CC hospitality will be on offer. If you can get down there, you’ll be in for a cricketing treat and the chance to remember a true gentleman in every sense of the word.

And finally I've lost count of the amount of people who've asked me for my opinion on this weekend superfight between Mayweather and McGregor.


It's probably the biggest hyped contest in the history of the sport, but unless you're either fighter, their respective management or even their bank managers, that's not necessarily a good thing.


Yes, the build-up is great TV. But what will it do for the sport if one of the greatest fighters there's ever been is beaten in his last contest by someone who has never boxed professionally?


At 40, there has to be question marks over Mayweather, especially up against a fit and focused McGregor. But then again is the 'McGregor show' boxing's very own version of the "Emperor's New Clothes"?


Saturday night will reveal all and the hype has clearly worked. For all our misgivings, the majority of us with any kind of interest will still pay the £19.95.

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