Black Country Bugle
Even Madrid strike star couldn’t solve Walsall’s woes
Albion’s match at Sheffield United was abandoned when the Blades were reduced to six players
WALSALL, with Ray Graydon in charge up to January and thereafter Colin Lee, lost six of their first nine matches and nine of their first 15. They never recovered really!
Several times they found themselves as low as 23rd in the table and in truth it was only a decent set of results in their last 10 matches (five wins and four draws) which saved them from relegation.
The Saddlers’ end-of-season record was played 46, won 13, drew 12 and lost 21, goals scored 51, conceded 71, points 51, which saw them finish just two above demoted Crewe Alexandra (22nd).
A convincing 4-0 home win over Grimsby Town was their best of the campaign, while their heaviest was a 5-2 loss at Burnley.
Jorge Leita once again was the team’s top-scorer with eight goals, followed by the Spaniard U21 and former Real Madrid forward Pedro Matias with five. In the two knockout Cup competitions, Albion lost in the 6th round of the FA Cup to Fulham (after early wins over Sunderland, Leicester City and Cheltenham); Wolves fell at the first fence, beaten at home by lowly Gillingham, and Walsall also lost to Fulham in round 5, having ousted Bradford City and Charlton Athletic in earlier rounds. In the League Cup, Albion were knocked out by Charlton in round 3 (after initial victories over Cambridge United and Swindon); Wolves went out in round three, beaten by Swindon Town, while Walsall departed in round 2, defeated 4-3 in a seven-goal thriller at Bolton, having eliminated Exeter City in the previous round. Club information: Albion’s away League game at Neil Warnock’s Sheffield
United in mid-march was abandoned in the 83rd minute when the Blades were reduced to just six players – three had been sent off and two more had departed the scene injured. With Albion leading 3-0 at the time, the result was allowed to stand.
Albion also signed defender Darren Moore from Portsmouth and midfielder Andy Johnson from Nottingham Forest.
The Chambers twins, Adam and James, played for Albion for the first time in a League game, lining up against Gillingham in August.
Club record gate receipts of £375,272 (from a 27,000+ crowd) were taken at the Albion-cheltenham FA Cup-tie in January, and Albion’s intermediate team won the Alliance Midland Division and also finished second in the Midland Floodlit Youth League, while the club’s boss man, Gary Megson, was named the First Division Manager of the Season.
And for the record, ex-albion star Tony Ford retired from professional football in the winter of 2001 with 931 League appearances under his belt … only goalkeeper Peter Shilton has more to his name: 1,005.
Wolves signed Kenny Miller for a club record fee of £3 million from Rangers, and midfielder Alex Rae arrived at Molineux from Sunderland for £1.2 million.
Record gate receipts of £369,232 were taken from the end-of-season play-off home game with Norwich City.
And 20 of the 35 players used by
Walsall in 2001-02 scored goals in League and Cup matches, with Darren Byfield obliging all three competitions.