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Charlie: Hammond is complete player
Charlie Oatway reckons Albion have a midfield to match anything in the Championship – helped by his sidekick from Withdean days.
The first team coach admits he is thrilled to see former skipper Dean Hammond back at the club.
And he knows how far the midfielder has come since his first stint for the Seagulls.
Oatway was in the thick of it about the time a young Hammond came though.
He liked what he saw back then. But he is even more impressed by the player brought back from top-flight Southampton on loan.
Oatway said: “Dean Hammond was a young lad when I played with him and he scored quite a few goals when he came into the team.
“I’m not talking Messi or anything like that but he has turned into a complete player.
“He can pass the ball, he can play, he can defend our box. He is a man and he is a captain. He has been captain here and for other teams.
“He is a fantastic signing for us and I am sure the crowd will take to him as much as they did before.”
Oatway recalls Hammond as a versatile character.
He added: “In some games we were in midfield and sometimes he was moved out to the left.
“Dean scored quite a few goals coming in at the far post.
“If you are struggling he will do your work and if he’s struggling he expects the same from you.
“He’s a top pro.We’ve got a bit of strength in depth now which probably we didn’t have as much last year. We have got some characters in there. You are going to need that if you are going to be successful.
“Our midfield area is as strong as anybody in the league.”
Oatway knows what he is talking about. He joined the Seagulls in the summer of 1999 and helped them to back-to-back titles at Withdean.
Some of his colleagues from back then will be together next month as he opens his testimonial year with The Lunch Of Legends at Brighton’s Hilton Metropole.
They include chairman Dick Knight , managerial duo Micky Adams and Alan Cork and team mates Paul Rogers, Bobby Zamora, Danny Cullip and Richard Carpenter.
Oatway said: “There were some characters there. We did well and some of the time we did it against the odds with the situation the club was in at Withdean.
“I’ve said it before but it was all hands to the pump from the chairman Dick Knight down. We fought against it and managed to achieve quite a bit.”
Dennis Wise, Dave Beasant, Barry Fry and Guy Butters will also be present, one legend to a table, to swap stories and answer questions.
Oatway said: “There will be a lot of laughs. The list is quite long, including players from now and from the team I played in.
“They will each have an individual story to tell.
“The names should sell the event. I’m a football person and I know those characters.
“You will be able to give questions to ask the legends.
“There will be a comedian and a few people speaking about different things.
“I’ve got a ten-minute slot myself. It will be good fun.”
This is the easy part of Oatway’s year. Tougher tests are being lined up, notably Charlie’s Charity Challenges.
Fans will be able to vote which of several suggested challenges they would like to see Oatway tackle – and he is expecting his renowned dislike of water and heights to be exploited.
Half the proceeds of the year will go to Albion In The Community.
Oatway said: “I’ve got a good bond with AITC and I think this the right thing to do. It will be busy but I have got a fantastic committee headed by Paul Samrah and I am really thankful.”
Tickets for The Lunch Of Legends, at the Hilton Metropole, Brighton, on Friday, October 12, cost £650 for a table of ten or £950 for a table of nine seated with a legend.
Individual places are also available at £65.
Bookings and sponsorship can be arranged by calling Sharon on 07976 814030 or Amber on 07743 566877 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updates on Oatway’s big season are available via Twitter @CharliesYear or on Facebook by searching for Charlie Oatway Testimonial Page.