Chris Hughton reckons Albion’s 30-somethings are setting a fantastic example to his table-topping squad.

Now, as the Seagulls prepare to face more youthful Charlton, The Argus can reveal the full impact being made by the older guard.

Albion sent out the oldest XI fielded by any Championship club so far this season and have the second highest average age across the first 18 rounds of the campaign.

Charlton sent out the youngest XI and have the second lowest average age.

Albion are not just about experience, although the average age will rise slightly tomorrow if, as expected, they bring in Inigo Calderon for his first home start of the season.

Less than a month short of his 34th birthday, Calderon is slightly older than the man he replaces, 31-year-old Liam Rosenior.

Gordon Greer, 35 this month, is back at the helm in defence alongside the man who stood in as skipper during his recent absence, 35-year-old Bruno.

And Bobby Zamora, who turns 35 in January, will be looking to net for the third match in a row.

Perhaps it is no surprise that experience is valued by a manager who is the oldest in the division, edging out Mick McCarthy by two months.

But Hughton went out of his way to praise the older guard when he spoke in his press conference after the win over Birmingham last Saturday.

Zamora’s contribution had already been discussed at length.

Then the subject moved on to young attackers Solly March and James Wilson – and Hughton deftly moved the attention to those at the back.

His thinking is that the older players deserve their places on merit.

But the spin-off is, if they are in such good shape in their mid-30s, they must be doing things correctly throughout the week which will set a great example throughout the club.

He said: “We have Bruno and Gordon Greer who are both 35 years of age.

“They certainly don’t play that way. And we have Calderon, who is a big favourite here.

“They are all really good influences behind the scenes in everything they do.

“You can’t get to their age and not do things right.

“They look after themselves very well, they make sure they have the correct rest and recovery and are really good to have around the younger ones.”

Ever-present Bruno long since set a personal best for successive league starts for the club and is now close to the 22 he enjoyed at the start of a top-flight campaign with Almeria.

Greer came straight back into the side once he was over a knee injury and has proved pretty durable over the years.

We have yet to see how Calderon handles some tough games coming up but his attitude will not be in question.

So how do the figures stack up?

The Argus:

Bruno is in great shape at 35

Over the course of the season so far, QPR slightly edge Albion in terms of the oldest average starting XI. Their current figure of 28 years and 298 days is three months older than the Seagulls average – or approximately one week per player per match.

Perhaps the one slight anomaly in the stats is that Albion sent out the oldest XI in the Championship this season – at Bolton – on the day they recorded arguably their worst result by drawing 2-2.

But they were down to ten men at the end and had seen Zamora go off by then after playing a part in both his side’s goals as they led 2-0, then 2-1.

Bruno also went off at 2-1 that day, although his replacement Calderon did not lower the age by much.

Two teams in the top four divisions have a slightly older average age than Albion, in Exeter and West Brom. The Baggies are the only side in the Football and Premier Leagues whose average age for the season so far is more than 29.

The Argus:

Bobby Zamora celebrates his winner against Birmingham

Which shows that experience in itself is not necessarily enough. It also comes down to the quality.

Players over 30 have accounted for 31% of Albion’s playing minutes so far, which is only fourth in the Championship behind QPR, Rotherham and Ipswich.

That arguably emphasises the contribution made by those who are mid-30s rather than early-30s.

Albion already have 12 players who have racked up more than 1,000 minutes of playing time in the Championship. No other team has managed that, highlighting the settled line-ups Hughton has been able to field.

The last two men to reach four figures were younger stars – Lewis Dunk and March against Birmingham.

Which illustrates that blend of youth and experience to which Hughton was keen to refer when asked that question about Wilson and March.

“James is a good and hungry young player,” he said.

“I think he is a lad who will be looking to learn from Bobby and also Tomer (Hemed, 28). Tomer is an experienced international player.

“He wants to learn and develop and ultimately he will want to get into Manchester United’s first team.”

The examples are there for Wilson and others to follow.


  • Albion’s expected line-up against Charlton will be one of the oldest of the season with an average age of 29 years and 107 days. That assumes Inigo Calderon for Liam Rosenior as the only change to the XI versus Birmingham.
  • The Championship’s oldest team so far this season, at Bolton, included Bruno, Gordon Greer and Bobby Zamora. The selection of Uwe Huenemeier and Liam Rosenior ahead of Lewis Dunk and Solly March added ten years to the line-up.
  • Apart from QPR and Albion, the only two sides with an average age for the season so far of more than 27 years and 200 days are promotion contenders Burnley and Middlesbrough.
  • Charlton sent out the youngest XI in the Championship this season when they lost 2-1 at Cardiff with an average age of 23 years and 126 days. They have added experience of late, leaving Leeds with the youngest average age over 18 games.

​Stats compiled the help of Ben Mayhew of Ben is head of data analysis at the Press Association and can be followed on Twitter via @experimental361