At some point during the second half, a familiar (but nameless, here at least) face and occasional BSaD contributor returned to his seat in the Rookery and proudly announced that he’d just been Harry Hornet for the afternoon. Which explains why Harry was looking distinctly trim and athletic as he ambled around the touchline, and why said familiar face had suddenly disappeared earlier on. “I had to do it just once,” he said, and you could see the logic in that.
Gillingham kicked off, the referee whistled them to a halt, Gillingham kicked off again. It was their only moment of hesitation. Less than two minutes in, and the ball arrived in the penalty area via Nosworthy and a flick from Ipoua…and suddenly the hugely impressive Sidibe was in, poking the ball past Alec Chamberlain to give Gillingham an immediate lead. And we couldn’t recover our composure…a fine move from the left five minutes later, and Saunders slid a pass across to Hessenthaler on the right of the area, stretching to fire across and narrowly wide. Immediately, Smith nearly lobbed Alec Chamberlain from long range, his effort landing on the roof of the net, and we were all over the place….
This was the first home game since the players agreed to a voluntary 12% wage deferral to prevent the club going into administration. The collapse of ITV Digital left many Football League clubs struggling financially but Watford’s situation was particularly grim after the failed gamble of trying to achieve promotion the previous season by appointing Gianluca Vialli and investing heavily in new players.
BSAD report: We’d beaten the bottom side by a single goal. Big deal. The result and, while it was thoroughly entertaining, the game itself won’t live long in the memory. But there was more to it than that. So much more. Whatever else we lacked – and we know that we can play a great deal better – it’s hard to imagine a more committed, determined, bloody-minded Watford performance than this. It was absolutely monumental, a great surge of stubborn, blinkered effort that simply swamped everything else – we approached the game like a fifty mile route-march, ploughing onwards regardless of hills and valleys, pain and fatigue. It was brilliant.
When the Fatboys’ supporters (I’ve tried other nicknames – the Slims, the Normans, the Zoës, the Remixers – but Fatboys just feels most apt to replace Seagulls) responded to our chant of “Going down, going down, going down” with a chorus of “Going bust, going bust, going bust”, I felt my blood rise to fight-level for the first time in the past two weeks. The feelings of resignation swiftly followed by resolve that greeted our financial announcements of the past fortnight were gone, and I became angry for this club, and no longer angry at it. I wasn’t prepared to take anyone else’s word for it, least of all a beered-up posse of seaside hooligans (with due respect to ig who actually has to live down there). Their side had given no indication of bringing anything useful to the party, and it was just our bad timing and bad luck which combined to keep the score at 0-0 for so long, and then 1-0 for the rest of the game.