Shane Long had given the Saints an early lead when he scored the fastest goal in Premier League history. Long struck after just 7.69 seconds and Southampton held on to their lead until Watford’s Andre Gray levelled from close range.
Craig Cathcart won’t forget the record-breaking moment in a hurry either as the Watford defender was the man at fault. Roberto Pereyra sent the kick-off back to the defender, whose attempted long ball was charged down by Long, who sprinted goalwards before dinking daintily over goalkeeper Ben Foster.
This must count as one of the Premier League’s more surreal occasions, and not just because John Barnes graced this stadium’s turf again, this time with microphone in hand, to bellow a karaoke version of Rocket Man during the half-time interval. More remarkable still was Southampton scoring within eight seconds of Watford’s kick-off, or Shane Long’s continued transformation from shot-shy workhorse into prolific goalscorer. It was only when reality bit late-on that Watford made their own impression on the night.
It’s a funny old night, really. Funny old game, funny old night. The celebration of the imminent Elton John biopic is rather awkward and misjudged, at least in parts. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of half-time nonsense, especially with John Barnes involved and some season tickets up for grabs. It isn’t my cup of tea, but we all find our fun in different ways and we often find other people’s fun a bit cringeworthy.
Having finished my pre-match ritual of putting on my replica shirt and retrieving my notebook, pen and camera from my bag, I noticed a big white envelope by my seat. I opened it to find a sheet with the words of “Rocket Man”, as if I don’t already know them. Irritation at this distraction was compounded when I looked up to see Shane Long bearing down on goal and shooting past Foster. Only 7 seconds of the game had elapsed. I had missed Cathcart hitting a pass at Long to lead to this chance. I was devastated and, again, I blamed the decision to dispense with Z-cars. You don’t mess with something so important at such a crucial point in the season.