OGH – Oldie Goes Home

Gary Hart - over 400 games, and still not had enough

Gary Hart – over 400 games, and still not had enough

News reaches us that evergreen stalwart and Albion legend – YES, LEGEND – Gary Hart is leaving Sussex to return to his native Harlow, Essex to continue his playing career at the ripe old age of 42.*

I’d just like to take a moment to spell out our appreciation for Gary Hart.

Never mind the ‘£1,000 and a kit’ transfer fee, never mind the myriad managers who kept him on and appreciated him as a low-maintenance player, nor indeed his versatility (including an appearance in goal) – fine qualities those these parts that make up the Harty legend are.

Gus Poyet: “If I could have 11 players with Gary’s attitude, my job would be so much simpler…”

This was a player who ran through walls for you; the arch-wind up merchant with a bundle of energy with pace to burn – even after his broken leg. He would give more, run faster, track back harder and set-up goals for 95 minutes out of every 95 minutes asked of him.

You knew when the team was read out, and OGH’s name was on it, there was someone you could trust with putting in a full shift, giving his opposite number no peace, probably leaving some part of opponent’s anatomy embedded in the Withdean pitch forever.

Kerry Mayo: “I roomed with him for 10 years. Jesus, I bet he sleeps at home with the windows open…”

45 goals may not sound a great return in 13 years, but there were some great goals in there – 25 yard screamers, rounding the Wolves defence to slot home, a near-post bundle against Leeds. However, this was a player who loaded the ammo too. The ‘Assists’ column next to his name must be awesome; the most famous surely being setting up Lloyd Owusu for his ‘three inches off the ground’ header against Oldham Athletic.

Thank you, Harty for all your hard work, your tenacity, your goals and the enjoyment you gave us while we were trying to avoid getting pneumonia at Withdean. Come back to Sussex any time you’re ready. Remember your friends here – you have THOUSANDS.

And there must be a place on the Legends Wall at the Amex soon – surely…?

So it was an honour and a privilege (really) for Ady and I to interview OGH in the Reverb dungeons in April 2012 to record an episode of The Albion Roar. Admittedly we’d been badgering him – alright, stalking him – to come on for months. He’d always said he’d do it, but never got round to coming on. Eventually, I think he just ran out of excuses.

But what a great 90 minutes we got out of him. He was funny, humble, cheeky, erudite, honest – but most of all, extremely grateful and appreciative of all the love that came his way during his 13 years at the Albion.

Gary Hart: “I never took penalties because I missed one when I was 15, and got beaten up by my team-mates for it…”

If you appreciated OGH’s effort, take some time out to listen to his interview – he was great. You can listen to the show in the Roar archives at www.albionroar.co.uk/archive.php

* It could be 37*, mind…