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03/04: Reports:

Carling Cup First Round, 12/08/03, 8pm
AFC Bournemouth
By Steve Resco

Strange how football can reveal things to you that you never knew about yourself.

I never thought that I would be affected by the loss of someone I didn't know. Many popular public figures have died without fulfilling their promise, many of whom have associations with things in my life that I love. But their passing has never touched me beyond feeling sympathy and sadness for the family and friends who knew the unfortunate soul - a momentary feeling to pause and count my blessings for my loved ones still with me.

But the loss of young Jimmy Davis has deeply affected me, and I'm not sure why. I didn't know him, wasn't overly excited about his signing (no more than anyone else we've signed recently), and I never saw him play.

There's no doubt that it's tragic that he was so young, so talented and by all accounts such a nice person. But we hear of such stories on a regular basis, so there must a deciding reason why this particular passing got to me.

I think it's because we're a family. We spent last season reclaiming our Club and we're reconciled as a family again. He was one of us. Our loss.

But more than that, we care deeply for those at the Club. From the players right through to the backroom staff, we've met them, we know them, and we care about them. They are in the heart of it. It's awful to know that good people like Terry Byrne are experiencing such a personal tragedy and that there's very little we can do to help them, other than sending flowers and messages of support.

So last night's match was always going to be strange (if that's the 'right' word). "Richard Short" and "eloquent" are words not often associated, but he was a credit to the Club last night. Whilst reading the very moving reasoning behind the choice of "Gangsta's Paradise" as the players' entrance music for the rest of the season, his tone and delivery was excellent and appropriate. Well done, Richard.

The teams walked out from the tunnel with both captains carrying a suitably modest wreath, and the applause they received from the crowd was both polite and respectful.

The clearly upset players lined up around the centre-circle with their arms around each other in preparation for the minute's silence, and Coxy seemed to make a deliberate path to make sure he was with Webber, again demonstrating what a good captain and fine individual he is.

The ref blew the whistle and the minute's silence, impeccably observed by all, began. Soon the bells of St. Mary's tolled, appropriately adding to the atmosphere - an accidental result of the decision to delay the kick off to allow all the chance to pay their respects.

"One Jimmy Davis, There's only..." greeted the end of the minute, as the players went over to the touchline to and huddled with the rest of squad and staff, gaining strength and support from one another. It didn't seem right to have football tonight.

But the match began regardless.

I'll leave the details to the usual BSaD crew, but in truth, during the first hour the crowd and the players didn't seem to get going. The sombreness of the occasion and the seeming insignificance of the fixture meant we all were just going through the motions. The players tried to play, the crowd tried to sing, but the 'X-factor' wasn't there.

The mood shifted following a few half chances, an unpunished elbow on Helguson, and the introduction of Jamie Hand and Lee Cook. Suddenly our grief was turned to anger as our emotions needed an outlet, and visibly and vocally we took the game.

There was only going to be one winner thereon in, and substitute Fitzgerald provided it in the 107th minute to ensure we're in the next round of the cup. The players surrounded Webber as he lifted up his shirt to reveal "DAVIS 11" to the Rookery.

As the final whistle went, the team gave their thanks to the fans and Webber removed his shirt so all could see his Davis tribute. A moving gesture from a player so obviously in mourning.

I wrote earlier that we've reclaimed our club, and our family. It's more than that. Ours is a special and important relationship that defines what being a Watford supporter, player, or employee is all about.

R.I.P Jimmy. Our thoughts are with you.