Tag: David Hockaday

23rd August 2014- Championship, Watford 4 Leeds United 1

Watford won the clash of the Championship’s two Italian-owned clubs as they overcame nine-man Leeds United.

So, here we are, four games in, three wins and one defeat, and the manager’s job on the line. Notably, the pressure comes from inside rather than outside; these are questions being asked by the players rather than the fans. There’s no sense of mutiny around Vicarage Road, nothing more than a familiar impatient tetchiness, common to all modern football grounds. But you look at that squad – a winning squad, for pity’s sake – and you can’t see any structure at all.

When I entered the ground, Macca was being interviewed by Luther.  What a joy to listen to my two all-time favourite players chatting.  When they finished, I made my way around to the Lower Rous to give Don a bag that he had left in the West Herts.  As I reached the disabled area, Don was coming to greet me and pointing rather urgently behind me.  I turned and there was John McClelland looking exactly as he did in the 80s.  I immediately turned into a gibbering star struck fan.  I managed to blurt out that I’d loved watching him play and went to shake his hand and found myself being warmly hugged.  It is quite possible that my feet will never touch the ground again.

29th April 2000- Premier League, Watford 2 Manchester United 3

Just the reserves, of course. No Cole, Scholes, Beckham, Keane or Stam, and Yorke sunning himself on the bench until half-time. Nothing to play for, the Championship and relegation issues resolved last week. A stroll in the April sunshine. Except that this is Manchester United, and you’re playing a brandname as much as a football team. A victory means something, regardless of who happens to be representing the multinational plc this week. They’ve made it that way, not us…but it’s still brilliant, still a reminder of what English football will lose when the Champions League makes games like this a thing of the past.

This – for those of you not there, you poor wanderers – was a heart-stopping game, not as visceral and energising as last week’s pulsating kickaround, but liberating in a different way. It was helped no end by the remarkable even-handedness of the referee, something which shouldn’t elicit comment but these days does, and which riled champions who arrogantly, complacently expect special treatment by right. So at least we were in with a shout, playing eleven against eleven. Just like at Anfield all those months ago, we could only beat the guys they put in front of us. Or so we thought for half a blissful hour.