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.
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.
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.
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’.