There have been a few more daydreams than usual this week. Since that magnificent victory over West Brom and that vital win at Coventry, it’s been easy to let the imagination wander a little. You can piece together a run of results to leave us in the playoff places, then toy with the possibilities from there onwards. You can plan a famous cup success at the Stadium of Light, then a kind draw in the quarter final…and then, well, who knows? And, implicitly, you can use all of the above to conjure up emotive, powerful images from yesteryear, both recent and beyond.
Gianluca Vialli’s men were torn apart as Millwall claimed all three points in clinical fashion. Watford hit the post through Tommy Smith after 23 minutes but otherwise were rarely a threat until Heidar Helguson scored a consolation nine minutes from time.
Gianluca Vialli said in his match programme notes that he didn’t want “to take stock” until the end of the season. However, only 45 minutes into Watford’s first 2002 commitment the Vicarage Road fans were voicing their concern.
One of these teams is indeed well-equipped for a Division One charge (if not, you feel, for Premiership survival). The other has its head in the clouds. One was hungry, sharp, well-organised, strongly bonded…and, crucially, aware of its limitations and prepared to work hard to overcome them. Not so very different from the Watford side that passed swiftly through the First Division under Graham Taylor, in fact. The other was lazy, sloppy, weak, fragmented, and entirely deserving of a stuffing.
About an hour before kick off the heavens opened and the Vicarage Road pitch, which was three years in to its stint of having to cope with Saracens as well as ourselves, was completely deluged. Shortly after 3pm it was announced the referee had deemed the pitch unplayable. The rearranged game didn’t take place until April and a new programme was issued.
A few weeks later in Issue 23 of the fanzine ‘The Yellow Experience’ an American fan told of how he had travelled 5500 miles for the game.
More games from 25th November at https://oldwatford.com/tag/nov25
BSAD report: So, as an early spell of Norwich pressing faded away, the Hornets began to show their credentials, not as cocky newcomers but as genuine First Division challengers. For me, watching the Bury goals on telly offered two moments of clattering realisation – the quality of Darren Bazeley’s goal, sure, but also the sheer big-kid-in-the-playground power of Allan Smart’s strike. Goddamn, this side has the potential to be as celebrated as any of its GT-assembled predecessors.