It was a hard physical game. Black and blue. Gifton was spoken to for bundling into Chambers. Then Mahon ended up in heap. The resultant Young free kick was floated by Young to Simonsen in the Stoke goal. Now Demerit was catching the eye in defence alongside the ever-talking Cullip. And up front Bouazza was finding more space, one move involving him and Young leading to a Dyer shot that was blocked. Twenty-five minutes gone and hardly any threat from the home team, Young sending another cross over as I looked at the clock for the first time.
So, let’s make this quick; in fact, let’s make the next couple of weeks quick, if we can. Let’s get it over with, then forget it all for a couple or three months. Because it deserves to be forgotten about, as much as it deserves to be remembered with a long-lingering bitterness. Amid all of the kerfuffle, there was a fair amount to be praised about this afternoon’s football, and a great deal of spirit evident throughout. We’ll need that spirit, and I’m not merely being churlish when I say that; we’ll need, for instance, the kind of willing, able attitude that saw Dominic Blizzard replace Brynjar Gunnarsson as the teams lined up for kickoff, then turn in a typically willing, able performance in the centre of midfield. That’s what’ll get us somewhere, wherever that might be.
Aidy Boothroyd’s first programme notes.
BSAD report: I was there, obviously. But less so, much less so. That’s not to suggest that I didn’t fully appreciate that this was a vital match for Watford Football Club, nor that I didn’t applaud a courageous, occasionally inspired, and much less deeply flawed team performance that rose to the occasion and deserved to take more from it than mere encouragement. I saw it all, with nose pressed up against the glass, conscious of everything and yet not part of it. When we scored, I heard myself saying “Yes!” and felt myself rising to my feet; the instincts that would’ve done those things in a reactive blur don’t seem to be working properly. I saw it all, and felt only echoes, remote tremors.
Why? I don’t know. This is new to me, all new. What I do know is that, like so many amazing things that happen in football stadia, the total support demanded by Graham Simpson requires the suspension of disbelief. It needs the conjuring up of an “us” from so much that has so little in common; an “us” that encompasses the stands, the dressing room and the directors’ box to become a football club rather than just a PLC with employees and customers. But you can’t put all of that on hold for three weeks – three weeks of exercising absolute power and authority, of claiming leadership, of seizing complete responsibility – then expect to resume where you left off. “Us” is for fifty-two weeks of the year, or not at all. And you can’t generate genuine belief in a long-term plan for survival and eventual prosperity, then demand the same belief in a new approach when you suddenly change your mind.