Warwickshire's celebration last Friday of 125 years of cricket at Edgbaston contained many memorable moments, tinged with sadness at the parlous state the first team now finds itself in.

No matter how hard you try to focus on the great times, you're inevitably drawn to the current situation and this writer could clearly discern an anger at Warwickshire's poor performances this season.

It was expressed both privately and in public. At the gala dinner that evening, Ashley Giles didn't hold back when asked to say a few words.

He called on the current regime to restore the pride that both the players and supporters felt just a decade ago, when the Bears were scooping up most of the trophies.

Almost all of those illustrious players from the 1990s were present all day and it was emotional for so many to see them walk out together just once more, to play against a Professional Cricketers' Association Masters XI. Brian Lara, Allan Donald, Dermot Reeve - they were all there, apart from Trevor Penney, who was away in Western Australia.

Inevitably, the Bears' supporters were making unfavourable comparisons throughout Friday. They noticed that the present coach, Mark Greatbatch, was nowhere to be seen and there were harsh judgments about his absence.

I could understand why Greatbatch stayed away. The day was meant to be a celebratory one and his presence might have dampened the atmosphere. It seemed a sensible move but my view was substantially a minority one.

Sound judges believed he would have shown respect to his current employers if he had joined in the deserved tributes at the gala dinner.

But there were many relishable moments . . .

Tim Munton genially admitting he had put on four stones since retiring, denying he was now Mike Gatting's official food-taster and revealing that his training for a cricket tour to the West Indies in November starts next week.

Brian Lara graciously signing countless autographs, unveiling that matchless square drive at astonishing speed and providing a host of excellent items from his own memorabilia for the auction at the dinner.

Dermot Reeve - paunchier but still irrespressible - giving his usual bravura performance as the auctioneer. And the Imran Khan impersonation still works well.

Keith Piper intently watching his footwork during the video clips of his wicket-keeping art on the giant screen as the nominations for the Bears' greatest keeper were read out. He pronounced himself satisfied at what he'd seen. So he should be . . .

Keith Cook, the cricket operations manager and part of the Edgbaston furniture for the past 34 years, obliging the young autograph hunters who assumed he must be a former playing legend because he was wearing a Bears' Greatest-Ever shirt. Keith has always hated to disappoint people.

Above all, the pleasure all those Warwickshire players from the 90s found in each other's company throughout Friday.

Laughter was never far away, often orchestrated by Reeve - in his element after two years of obscurity and personal problems.

The selection of the Warwickshire Greatest XI by supporters and officials at the club generated a fair amount of heat and light over the past few months and it was:

Dennis Amiss, Nick Knight, Brian Lara, Rohan Kanhai, Alvin Kallicharran, Dermot Reeve (c), Keith Piper (wk), Gladstone Small, Allan Donald, Jack Bannister, Eric Hollies.

A long tail indeed, although the first five batters should be good enough for a stack of runs. A personal preference would have included Ashley Giles, Tom Cartwright, David Brown and MJK Smith, but there you go.

But that selection provided just one of countless talking points.

There'll be just as many when the Bears celebrate 150 years at Edgbaston.


* Do Albion have a money plan?

Curtis Davies' move to Aston Villa confirms that West Bromwich Albion are swimming in money. All the supporters want to know now is what the board plan to do with it.

It's true that Albion won't get the #9 million for Davies until next summer for tax reasons, but they can still reassure the bank that the money is on tap.

If you include the Davies deal, West Brom have received around #29 million for players sold since failing in the play-off final at the end of May. If not, around #20 million has come in.

Tony Mowbray has signed eleven players this summer at a total cost of about #12 million. Whichever way you look at it, that's a handsome profit to the club.

So where will all that surplus go? Either on investment banking - looking for profits in the short term - or on new players. But West Brom can't buy anyone else until the transfer window re-opens in January. By then, the promotion push may have foundered.

It's too early to tell how sound Mowbray's purchases have been. Albion's two victories in the league have come against sides in the bottom four and inevitably, there's a period of bedding-in. The manager should be supported in this period of revival.

But it must be galling to West Brom's supporters that the club is so rich. Bernie Ecclestone has just bought Queens Park Rangers for about #14 million plus another five million for new players.

West Brom - in the same division - are in a different financial world. The balance sheet estimates the value at cost of the buildings and development - including the stadium, train-ing ground and the Academy - at just over #30 million. All those buildings are on extremely valuable land for expansion purposes.

The television parachute payments to Albion for this season are estimated at about #11 million. So much money burning a hole in the club's pocket, but now no use to the manager.

I'm sure Mowbray is aware of all this and that many managers would have loved to have such financial

muscle in the close season. Agreed, you have to lower expectations when you haven't made it into the Premiership and players who are targeted don't want to know after the Wembley failure, but a comparison with last season's first-team squad is instructive.

How often was Mowbray thwarted in his summer transfer aims by the chairman, Jeremy Peace?

Will he get the benefit of the doubt if results aren't satisfactory during autumn?

Mark the date, Tony. September 18, 2006. That's when the chairman sacked Bryan Robson, a month into the new season.

By the end of the year, some supporters will get the chance to quiz Mr Peace at the club's annual meeting of shareholders. The date is still to be confirmed but questions have to be tabled with seven days' notice.

Even then, the mechanism of dealing with pointed questions is designed to fob off persistent sceptics. Aston Villa fans will recall Doug Ellis dead-batting many a loaded inquiry at shareholders' annual meetings down the years.

But it's a form of democracy. And it'll be the only chance this year to ask West Brom's chairman the key question - where's the money gone?