Club News

Mixed emotions for Long

And Shane thanks former boss McDermott

SHANE Long is delighted he can claim the bragging rights from Albion’s 1-0 victory over his former club Reading on Saturday.

The Republic of Ireland striker enjoyed a six-year stay at the Madejski Stadium before joining the Baggies 13 months ago. 

And Long experienced mixed emotions after coming off the bench to set up Romelu Lukaku’s 71st-minute winner as the Baggies recorded their third successive Hawthorns win. 

“It was very strange,” said Long. 

“When the fixtures came out, that was the game I looked for first. 

“The Reading fans were singing my name but then I had to come on and try to beat them. 

“I'm sure they'll do well this season and I hope they do. 

“I'm still friends with a lot of the lads and the coaching staff.

“But it's bragging rights at end of day. 

“It's harsh on them when you look at the games they've played. 

“They got a draw at Stoke and were unlucky not to get something at Chelsea and then they had a 25-day break before their next game. 

“You want the games to keep rolling like they do in the Championship, so you can get on a bit of a roll.

“I know the players really well and I know the quality they've got. 

“I'm sure they'll come back fairly quickly.”

The 25-year-old striker also thanked Brian McDermott for mentoring him following his transfer from Cork City in 2005. 

Long recorded a career-best goal tally of 21 Championship strikes during his final season at the Berkshire outfit but things were not always that simple and he insists he is where he is now because of the Royals manager's faith in him.

Long added: “When he got the job, I was struggling, I wasn't playing well, but he stuck by me and I managed to score nine or ten goals at the end of that season. 

“At the start of the following season, I scored one in 13 and he still stuck by me, but I finished with 25 in total.

“He gave me his spare room for two months and he took me under his wing for a while. 

“I was cutting his lawn and he really looked after me, took me to training and whenever I needed some help, he was there for me. 

“I owe him everything and I'll be forever grateful for that."

Long also heaped praise on Romelu Lukaku who took his place in Steve Clarke’s starting line-up for Saturday’s win.

“Rom ran them ragged for 60 minutes and it was nice to come on and test my legs," he said.

“Rom's been chomping at the bit for a while. 

“The head coach just decided to change it because we didn't really perform last weekend. 

“Lukaku is a handful for everybody. 

“He's still only 19, he's strong and quick, he's good in the air and can finish with both feet. 

“He's near enough the complete striker. 

“He's still young, still learning his craft, but he's a big addition to our team.

“Chelsea sent him out on loan so he can get some experience. 

“He cost £18m so they wouldn't have spent that money without having something in mind for him.”