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Bowler's Delivery: Away the lads...

27 May 2015

It's awards season, so step forward and take a bow

THE curtain comes down, the season is over, the time for reflection is upon us. 

As things turned out, Albion survived the drop with a fair bit to spare, some nine points in the finish, a comfortable gap between us and Hull City who will be back in the Championship again next term, playing those additional eight games that push one and all over the edge marked “exhaustion”. 

When you look at the mathematics, the survival game all seems very simple for the Throstles but those of us still nursing our fingernails back to health will recognise it was anything but, especially on that day, Astle Day, when we slouched away from The Hawthorns after being defeated by Leicester City. 

At that point, make no bones about it, we were in trouble. And then came the turnaround. Quite rightly, Tony Pulis and his tight-knit group of first teamers have taken the credit for that run of five games unbeaten that took us to safety, courtesy of the most miserly of defences and a sharpness around goal whenever the main chance came around.

But playing every bit as important a role were the supporters, especially away from home. After the Leicester defeat, we faced perhaps the most miserable trip of the year, the one that wends its way around London before finally finding Croydon and its knot of greasy spoon cafes that encircle Selhurst Park. Once there, Crystal Palace proves to be one of the great old grounds of England, but finding it? Been there about a dozen times in a decade and a half, and never the same way twice. 

I digress. We went there in the midst of a grim run, the relegation-threatened armies at our gates. And we went there as Palace were playing out of their skins, stringing together win after win to place them in the sanctuary of mid-table. Things were not looking good but, as the record shows, we came away 2-0 winners and our worries were all but over. 

That was the day when the free coaches put on by the club meant a huge number of travelling Albion fans who occupied the local pubs all around the ground. As the team coach drove in, they were greeted for miles around by Albion fans waving and cheering. 

Inside the ground, the Throstletariat effectively neutralised the most hostile atmosphere in the Premier League by creating an environment in which Morrison, Brunt, Gardner et al could combine to produce the goals that turned our season around and put us back on the right path.

A fortnight later and they were at it again. Only 500 Albion fans in Old Trafford, but they made more noise than 70,000 United supporters to drag the Throstles, kicking and screaming over the line to another famous victory and well clear of any lingering danger. 

So it is then as 2014/15 slides into the history books that we salute what, were we in America, we would be forced to call the season’s MVP – most valuable player. 

And in the end, the choice was easy. It’s you lot, the travelling fans. You made the difference when it mattered most, you helped secure the points we simply had to get. 

Thank you for your support. See you on the road again next season.

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