BSAD report: For all the intimidating, ominous thunder that precedes the arrival of this Arsenal team – most notably with the endless, movie-trailer announcement of the line-up before kickoff – the reality proved to be rather less terrifying. For forty-five minutes, little Watford – line-up gabbled out over the PA in about ten seconds flat, as if to say “Oh yeah, somebody else turned up as well!” – made their hosts look very ordinary indeed.
BSAD: The lowest point of a bad evening for Watford fans came in the 89th minute, when Gibbs was adjudged to have felled Haworth by the arbitrary John Kirkby. Bradshaw displayed exactly the decisiveness that Kennedy had lacked in converting his spot kick. Wigan had deserved this, no question, but the ludicrous journey back was suddenly postponed by half an hour. Not good.
100 Greatest Watford Wins- No.35: The Premiership and its hype and self-importance could be irritating at times but this was one of those rare days when all the pundits had to sit in their armchairs and accept that sometimes might doesn’t mean right.
BSAD report: For all the occasional moments of utter glory, documented elsewhere, this was what the last ten years of lower division football were usually like. Abysmal football in front of less than seven thousand fidgety fans in the sweeping rain. Dreadful League Cup and Auto Windscreen ties with the likes of Southend and Torquay in an empty stadium foolishly built for bigger things. Roger Willis, Derek Payne, Geoff bloody Pitcher. Awful.
It was an awful night, let’s get to the point. It was drizzling, it was empty, it was ten pounds to get in. (And twenty to get out, we reckoned at half time.) Could tell from the off no-one wanted to be out there on the pitch, and that feeling spread to the stands within minutes. So what if we hadn’t scored since the Premiership title race was still in the balance? We attempted passes of the sodden, slippery ball with the aplomb of those old farts who kick it back to you in the park to look good in front of their ladies and it winds up sliced into someone’s picnic miles from where you’re standing. Except that there were Wigan players in the way tonight, to make us look even stupider. Thank goodness they fell over nearly as frequently as we did, but they had better ideas while they were upright, which gave the lie to blaming it all on the rain. And they knew that if you’re splitting two legs over a week (ah, that’s where the crappy pun was going…) you have to make the away one count. So we gave them as much help as we could, and for 45 minutes we were unspeakable. I don’t remember when we last booed the boys off the pitch at half-time. But for future reference, it was tonight.