“The era embraced the technique of Beckenbauer, the grace of PelÃ©, and the guile of Cruyff. But there was only one team whose name I was writing in cow gum and glitter. Watford.”
I must have been about six when I first went. It was, if not the golden years, then the bronze age; the era of Ken Furphy and promotion from the (old) Division Three, of glamorous visits by Best and Charlton and Law; of nimble, wily Stewart Scullion performing miracles on a pitch that frequently resembled the Somme with white lines painted on it.
Since that time we’ve been through the years of despair with managers and players of varying degrees of ineptitude; the glory years of Graham Taylor; those strange, empty years of floundering around in Division One before the inevitable descent to Division Two.
Then it all started to buzz again. Under the second coming of Graham Taylor, we soared into the premiership for the first time in our history. And promptly plummetted out again, but it was fun while it lasted.
Then GT departed to be succeeded by, to most peoples’ amazement, Gianluca Vialli, the former world footballer of the year, ex-manager of Chelsea and all-round cosmopolitan bloke. We were stylish, we were sophisticated, we were chic. We were pants.
And when he was finally thrown out, we were broke as well. After our stupid attempt to burn money in order to return to the ‘big time’, we employed Ray Lewington â€” a good manager who developed a committed squad and, despite the fact that times were hard and we constantly teetered on the edge of bankruptcy, the club felt like Watford again.
Then Lewington was dumped, to be replaced by an entirely untried manager. At the time I thought this was madness, which shows, frankly, how much I know about football. Boothroyd has been a breath of fresh air; he’s young, enthusiastic, not afraid to try new ideas and he took us back into the premiership. Of course, we couldn’t stay there, but that doesn’t matter much; it was still a remarkable achievement.
I was going to make this page a lot more informative, with facts about Watford and information about the game for those of you who don’t follow football. But then I thought, ‘what’s the point?’ Football is like religion – you either get it or you don’t. Some people undergo miraculous conversions; others backslide, foregoing the faith of their early years for less passionate pastimes like DIY and gardening.
For the rest of us, football is just there. And however far away I am, however many seasons come and go, the feelings remain the same. On the all too few occasions that I get to the ground these days I am that boy again, standing on the terraces while eleven men offer me ecstasy or despair.
Or boredom if we’re playing Cambridge.
By the way, Watford’s nickname is ‘The Hornets’. This is supposedly because we play in yellow and red. Personally I think it’s because we buzz around aimlessly and annoy people when summer comes.
Some Watford links:
[Official Watford Football Club Site->http://www.watfordfc.com/]
OK, but not as good as it should be.
[Blind, Stupid and Desperate – Watford FC site->http://www.display.co.uk/watford/]
Sheer magnificence. Absolutely recommended.Watford