A telling memory of How Things Used To Be from the recent Clough documentary: Forest players in the centre circle, turning to greet and be greeted by each of the stands before kickoff. We used to do that too, a line of players in the middle of the pitch. It meant something. Now, it’s not until we’ve had a pedestrian parade of players and officials across the full width of the pitch, followed by an extended mingle with nibbles and a free bar, that we get to applaud and be applauded by our team. Or the first two or three of our team, to be precise: by the time you get halfway down the line-up, everyone’s got bored and the remaining players just wander into position rather than bother to sprint purposefully towards the Rookery. Something essential has been lost here…and for what, exactly?
Nigel Gibbs final competitive Watford appearance and Gianluca Vialli’s last programme notes.
BSAD report: One final first team outing for Nigel Gibbs – applauded on arrival by everyone in the ground, including the Gillingham players – was worth the price of admission alone, even if he was required to spend ten minutes looking awkwardly out of place at left back. A broad grin on hitting a pass so firmly that even Anthony McNamee couldn’t catch up with it betrayed his enjoyment of the occasion, and it was an enjoyment widely shared. Nigel Gibbs has been a great player for Watford Football Club for twenty years. There need be no further explanation.
If the 21st of April, and the Gillingham match that will finally put us out of our apparently infinite misery, is designated “Fan Appreciation Day”, then what on earth was this? “Fan Dissuasion Day”? “Fan Repulsion Day”? Whatever, it cleared the ground more efficiently than a fire alarm.
The applause for Robert Page, returning to his spiritual home, was a worthy tribute to a great club servant. It was noticeable that he did not gloat at the ease with which United scored all three of their goals, but I bet he was pissing himself as he walked down the tunnel and into the away dressing room. I also bet he was wondering quite why he was forced out of the club.
Having wasted a large chunk of a beautiful Good Friday on this thoroughly grey, tedious match, you’ll have to forgive me if I’m unwilling to do the same with an equally glorious Saturday. It was very dull indeed – a game of no real importance, with no serious attempt made to keep up the illusion – and we’ve all got better things to do with our time. I can hear the Hoover calling me as I type….