Hell, does anyone really want to pick over these bones? Will it tell us anything new, anything that we don’t know already? If you’re still holding out hope for Tuesday, then I applaud your optimism…and you might take some heart from a moderately rousing finale, even if its stirring passion was mainly manifested in Heidar Helguson narrowly escaping another red card for a stupid elbow and Paul Devlin being pointlessly petulant with anyone who came near him, friend or foe. And Paul Mayo had a competent, quietly impressive home debut too. Otherwise, though, there ain’t much that you’d want to look at, good or bad. It just was, and oppressively so. Frankly, Tuesday can’t come slowly enough.
Where to start, really. This was an absolute horror, make no mistake. The repercussions could be catastrophic. That there are positives to be drawn from the performance, that we have played worse, significantly worse, this season perhaps makes it all the more horrific.
So, West Ham are in the First Division again. Judging by the sell-out crowd, this is the cause of some excitement, a bit of a novelty. A nail bar in an old-fashioned part of town, rapidly becoming part of the scenery. Nottingham Forest. Derby County. Sheffield Wednesday. Sunderland. Queens Park Rangers. Norwich City. And so on. It happens very quickly indeed, and you suspect that this fixture will probably be taking place in front of, say, seventeen thousand people next season. Fourteen thousand in two years. Still, ‘Ammers fans, it’s not all doom and gloom…the weather might’ve perked up by then, eh?
Football. Marvellous, isn’t it? Transporting you from the ordinary day-to-day to some higher plane. Hard to imagine that Watford fans would be experiencing such feelings and such an absorbing ninety minutes given the season to date. Hard to imagine a standing ovation for a team that comes off the pitch with only a draw, firmly rooted next-to-bottom (or bottom if you only count real clubs), down to ten men, four players booked, and with their opponents spurning a penalty and having a shot come back off the post, defying Newtonian mechanics (or is it Euclidean geometry?). But that’s what they had, a standing ovation – and thoroughly deserved.
You didn’t really come here for football, did you? For heaven’s sake, what possessed you? Have you not see the score? Did you not pay attention to what happened on Saturday? Or the league table…have you not seen the league table? Nobody cares any more. It just doesn’t matter. It’s irrelevant, finished, filed away. Except that you still want to know. You are the sole punter who still turns up to see UK Subs, wondering bitterly why they don’t still make the top forty and the front cover of NME. And I’m here because you’re here. Which must make me the drummer in UK Subs, or something. And that’s not quite what I had in mind for my life, you know….
There was something almost Betjeman-esque about the first 45 minutes here yesterday, so effectively did 22 well-paid professionals evoke the spirit of the thousands of park games that kicked off around the country an hour or so earlier.
This was a wearisome game. A dreary, generally uneventful, rarely attractive football match between two largely uninspired sides. And played at a ludicrous time, just for effect. The equivalent of being dragged from your bed at five o’clock in the morning and forced to watch back-to-back episodes of “Heartbeat”, while being kept awake by periodic prodding with a blunt stick. Probably the most forgettable game since…erm, I can’t remember. But with a reward for anyone who managed to stick with it until the end.
The match itself couldn’t have made much of an impression on the TV viewers, though the three points have brought Watford back in touch with the teams chasing for a play-off place. Whilst a top half finish would have been beyond most Watford fans’ expectations at the start of the season, it is great to see that there is some hope of some end of season games. Keep up the good work Ray, Terry and the lads.
More games from 19th January at https://oldwatford.com/tag/jan19