It’s really not the old Wembley, is it? True, the old Wembley smelt of sour tramp when you got up close and it felt as though it might just fall down if everyone jumped at once…but not even the stale piss of a dozen generations could hide the essential romance of the place, the sense of that-happened-over-there history. This…well, it has the moneyed sheen and efficiency of an airport departure lounge. Any idiosyncrasies have been firmly ironed out by committee, any dark corners where you might be able to scratch your name for those who follow have been illuminated by an artful downlight. All trace of this game will have been wiped clean by the time you read this.
I haven’t done any research but I imagine we must have set a record of being the only club to ever achieve our lowest league attendance of the season at the first leg of a playoff. Just 14,713 turned up.
Goals from veteran pair Nicky Barmby and Dean Windass put Hull within sight of the Championship play-off final. Watford had a goal harshly disallowed in the fourth minute and fell behind shortly after when Fraizer Campbell set up Barmby to sidefoot home.
BSAD reports:“Anything is possible.” It’s the best phrase of the day, undoubtedly. And it comes from, if you like, the best man. Anything is possible. Not anything’s possible, a shrug of the shoulders to say that, hey, it just might rain five pound notes tomorrow. That’s not Adrian Boothroyd. No, take out the apostrophe: anything is possible. A defiant, substantial statement of intent. A summary of the man, perhaps.
You’re not taking it all in. Not really. You can’t. And why should you? The events you’ve just witnessed don’t happen to lowly Watford. You’re standing in someone else’s dreamland, a fantasy world of yellow and red confetti – delight, delirium and disbelief are the dominant emotions.
“From New York to Cardiff”
“Winning is believing”
“From Blooms Bar, Tel Aviv”
“View from afar”
“We always win three-nil”
“Good omen, bad omen”
“The red car”
“Three-nil on an L-shaped pitch”
“On seeing a miracle in Brussels”
“An early taste of champagne and glory”
“The Horn treatment”
“Hahnemann was there”
“Hat korso es két palinka”
“Confessions of a recent convert”
“What it’s really all about”
“Hell freezing over”
“The long road to Cardiff”
“Waving the flag”
“Hornets on top down under”
Kevin Blackwell could never have imagined the implications of his coach Adrian Boothroyd joining Watford last year. After little more than 14 months in charge the man whose appointment was greeted by supporters at Vicarage Road with concern, bewilderment and general unease yesterday etched his name in the club’s history and confirmed his status as one of the brightest young managers in English football when he secured promotion to the Premiership at the expense of his former mentor.
100 Greatest Watford wins- No.4: Watford went to Cardiff a few days before the final and familiarised themselves with the Millennium Stadium. ‘We had this feeling that Leeds thought they had already won it,’ says DeMerit. ‘That was the sense we had. We used that to our advantage and it really spurred us on.’
Adrian Boothroyd faces the threat of being banned from the touchline for the play-off final against Leeds United, comfortably the biggest game of his brief managerial career, after being sent to the stands last night following a mass brawl in front of his dugout. The Watford manager sparked mayhem midway through the second half when he flicked the ball away from Fitz Hall with a hand as the Crystal Palace defender sought to take a quick throw-in.
Immense. Amazing. Rock solid. Tense. Iron-willed. Undefeated. Just some of the words we used, once we’d calmed down, to describe the fight on the touchline which was triggered by maybe a little too much management of the game and, in particular, the ball. But if we focus on that, we’ll be overlooking a job done with just as many of the qualities as we brought to the 60th-minute melee.
More games with Crystal Palace at https://oldwatford.com/tag/crystal-palace/
BSAD reports: It had to be Selhurst. Of all the places, it had to be Selhurst. Scene of so many humiliations, disappointments, and dreary fizzles over so many years. The place where Curcic and his ludicrous goatee cheated us out of a deserved win. Where Glenn Roeder’s tenure came to such a decisive end. Where our short trip to the Premiership found its nadir, hammered by a team that was eventually relegated with us. Where Wayne Brown once had a shot that not only went out for a throw, but a throw level with where he’d struck the ball.
I haven’t slept for a week. The ambivalent feelings that I’ve had all season about the prospect of Premiership football next year have disappeared and been replaced by an overwhelming desire to see this wonderful group of lads playing ‘where they should be’.
100 Greatest Watford wins- No.26: Selhurst Park. There’s nothing to like about the place.Admit it, who among the Watford faithful wasn’t thinking: let’s just go down there, keep it tight and get away with a draw. Give ourselves a chance in the second leg.
We’ve only gone and bloody done it! We’ve only gone and bloody done it!
“Can life get any better?”
“It’s a long way to…LA”
“The Horns of a dilemma?”
“If you want to get to heaven let me tell you how…”
“The best day of my life”
“Tears at tea-time”
“Here’s to the next time”
“It’s a long way from…NG7”
“Nice and ‘isi”
“A magnificent obsession”
“A good day out”
“Why a grown man would cry”
“Winning at Wembley is better than losing on IRC”
“The Hornets have landed”
“The scoreboard said…”
100 Greatest Watford wins- No.1: Watford were in a perfect position. They approached Wembley with the magical combination of incredible form and underdog status. They had also beaten Bolton home and away in the league. Confidence was high, but Taylor ensured nothing was left to chance in the preparations.
Last night is incomprehensible, even with the aid of a notebook. Just absolutely gargantuan. My brain is currently refusing to process all the information for fear of overload, but my heart knows the score. Which is probably why I nearly started crying when we appeared on the news this morning – one of those moments when realisation hits, and you can do nothing but crumple. This may not be the most coherent report I’ve ever written.
100 Greatest Watford wins- No.24: The noise was almost suffocating.You had to hand it to the Blues’ supporters, they had created a fierce atmosphere. When they sang their anthem Keep Right On to the End of the Road, instinct made you put your hands over your ears. The Watford fans tried to fight back, to sing with every ounce of effort they could muster. But you could barely hear yourself think.
We were the first club to go out of the playoffs without losing a game. The away goals rule in the playoffs was eventually scrapped for the 1999-2000 season.