So, this is all a bit weird. For the first time in twenty-odd years, I’m visiting – definitely feels like visiting – Vicarage Road with almost no context in which to place the game I’m about to see. Last time around, a little person’s lifetime ago, it was all George Thorne and Diego Fabbrini and getting stuffed at home by Yeovil; our habit of wandering around with immaculate hair and shoelaces undone had, inevitably, led to us plunging head-first towards the bottom of a steep flight of stairs. All of last season’s joie de vivre had gone, leaving only the witless confusion of that ridiculous, disastrous second half against Leeds, the pivotal moment of Gianfranco Zola’s reign. It wasn’t any fun.
The city of Sheffield rendered this result potentially disastrous for Watford and less than satisfactory for Millwall. While the Hornets lost vital promotion ground on a victorious Sheffield United, Millwall failed to make up any on Sheffield Wednesday, comfortable winners over Wolves, in their struggle for survival.
“It makes my back itch.” This is a favourite saying of my mother’s. It describes the feeling you get when something inevitable, and usually unpleasant or unfortunate, is about to happen. It is most often used when watching formulaic sit-coms featuring the likes of Frank Spencer or Mr Bean. It also applies to disaster movies such as “Titanic” or “Towering Inferno”. Quite why her back should itch, I don’t know but I know what she means. In these situations I would rather not watch. When your back itches, you can be sure that inevitable disaster will just be round the corner. The solution? Avoid watching things that have a script featuring inevitable disaster. I suppose that this disaster was inevitable from the moment I was asked to write the match report. I seem to get a lot of such games either for this website or the Free Observer. A home banker on paper, I just got that back-itching feeling (in my legs).
BSAD report: There are less than ten minutes left. Robbo’s receiving a pass and steaming down the left like an irate, stampeding wildebeest. He whacks a cross towards the penalty area, hitting a defender and winning a corner. His momentum takes him over the touchline and towards the Rookery, fists clenched and bellowing insanely to demand more support. Spurs are visibly rattled by our bruising assault, suddenly defending a draw rather than pursuing a victory.
Take a freeze-frame of that moment. Think about it. We’re supposed to have accepted relegation, to feel humbled by the Premiership experience. Yet it takes only the slightest encouragement to flip the script entirely, to bring us back to life as this roaring, snarling beast of a team.