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Nationwide Division One, 25/11/00
Hang the DJ
By Peter Wilson

There are some games that, even before they are due to kick off, you have a funny feeling about. A gut feeling that something is not quite right, but you can't quite put your finger on the cause. Whether it is the temperature, time of year, jinx fixture, unlucky banner, the last episode of "One Foot in the Grave", there is something wrong. The Burnley game was one such game.

With the Hornets on a run of three successive defeats and the Clarets flying high, it was a game most Watford fans were looking forward to as much as they enjoy visiting the dentist for a set of fillings and root canal treatment.

How many fans made the trek to the Vic that Saturday? Through a thunderstorm of biblical proportions, Noah and his ark proportions. Soaked through after trekking from the centre of Watford, like the paras yomp to Goose Green. Once at the ground a cup of tea what was called for. It was inevitable, I suppose, that things would go from bad to worse - I got a cup of hot chocolate rather than tea, and it was more caramel in colour than chocolate. Disgusting.

However, the afternoon managed to get even worse. Rather than a football match, we witnessed an early pantomime on the hallowed Vic turf. Upwards of 1 million has been spent on a new pitch, yet it could have been the local playing fields for what it is worth. Watching the referee and his two assistants, the two club managers, Tim Shaw and the police officer in charge walk around the pitch checking the damp patches was like watching a Brian Rix farce.

Up and down the pitch they walked kicking the football. Is the game on? "Oh no, it's not!" and "Oh yes, it is!" bellowed both sets of fans. After a brief discussion between the ref, Tim and the managers, the game was off - it was obvious from the body language.

Waiting for the announcement was as much fun as the dentist's waiting room. The tannoy blasted out non-descript pop music - so much for Coldplay's magnificent "Yellow" which accompanies the club's videos played on the big screen. For ten minutes we were kept on the proverbial edge of our seats - well, it was wet, the seats were drenched and ten thousand cases of piles in the Watford area would not be a pretty sight.

The club DJ - whose inane comments are annoying at the best of times - surpassed himself. Almost wetting himself (no pun intended) with his (temporary) importance, he advised the disgruntled crowd that the game was off. The joy in his voice due to the significance of his announcement was sickening.

I don't know who he is but, for many, he and his colleague playing the music got it badly wrong on the day. It is painful enough finding out a game is off when you are travelling to a match, but at least you have the option to turn around and go home. Saturday was a different situation, with fans in their seats waiting for kick-off, some of whom had travelled miles to get to Watford. The Dublin Horns were over, someone from the US, others came from all parts of the UK, especially those who had travelled down from Burnley - and the announcement was delivered in true pantomime style.

The DJ, and more particularly the club, can do so much better than they did on the day. Perhaps it was the extreme weather that caused all the problems but this is not the first time a game has been called off at the Vic, nor indeed will it be the last. Hopefully, the club can learn from this disaster and have a better contingency plan next time.

In the meantime, not having any other person to blame, other than the ref, our insensitive DJ should play the Smiths' song "Panic", with its "Hang the DJ!" chorus, in shame!