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BLIND, STUPID AND DESPERATE
 
03/04: Review:
March 2004:
£1
By Mike Peter

I am quite a selfish chap, by and large. If I were to, say, be caught up in the volcanic eruptions of Pompeii and encountered a man covered in lava, I'd be more likely to steal his - ooh I don't know, something Roman, his toga perhaps? - than pour water over the slowly melting carcass. To quote Edmund Blackadder*, "The most important person in my life is me."

So, yes. This is an appeal to Watford's staff, players, fans, ball boys - WE MUST STAY UP! This is not, you must understand, due to the fact that relegation would be hugely costly to the club, that the standard of entertainment for the fans would be considerably lower or indeed that several people could lose their livelihoods. No. This is because I have bet my Dad one English pound that Watford will stay up.

Think what I could do with a pound! If I were to buy a lottery ticket there's a one in thirteen million chance I would win. I could invest my winnings in the club, become Chairman and then, on match days you could point me out and say, "That's Mike Peter, I read his articles before he became the stunningly handsome millionaire that he now is."

If that's not inspiration, I don't know what is.

The month started with Stoke away, the Bradford game earlier that week was cancelled due to a frozen pitch. A 3-1 defeat seemed hugely disappointing. However, when you consider it...it's not. Stoke were/are on top form and are a far cry from the team that we beat 2-1 at the Britannia nearly eighteen months ago. They also have a massive forward line. Watford can't cope with anyone bigger than five foot ten. It's a fact. So despite the fact we were on a roll, a defeat against Stoke, in retrospect, can't be considered a major failure.

Bradford next. We all know we don't win at Bradford. Never have, never will. In fact, I have a strange capacity to remember away defeats at Valley Parade. Despite the fact I've never been, I can see in my mind's eye the red kits and Xavier Gravelaine's (currently table topping in France) goggling eyes. If you examine the front of that week's WO, you'll see Heidar jump out the way in the wall, allowing the ball to fly through into the net. And we thought he was hard.... Yes, so despite our recent good form we lost to the shower of shite that is Bradford. Again, hardly a surprise when you look at it in retrospect.

Sheffield United, then. We're their bogey team, although we lost 3-0 in this fixture two years ago, so we're not a bogey that can't be picked. That day we were well and truly picked. I'll pull no punches, we were bloody terrible. Interestingly enough, though, despite our awful passing Watford were actually the dominant side, we created a fair amount of chances too! Sheffield United, for all their star players, produced very little apart from their two goals. Despite the general awfulness of the match, I have pulled some hilarious/dreary points from it.

  • Audley Harrison turning up at half time and, having received a ball from one of the United subs, displaying a decent footballing touch. He was pleasantly surprised when he was presented with the Man of the Match award after the game.
  • A huge round of boos when Fitzgerald was taken off. A huge amount of Watford fans obviously not noticing that Fitzgerald hadn't done anything all game, apart from miss a sitter.
  • Robert Page being called a "dirty Northern bastard" having sliced down Hyde - there were obviously a large amount of stupid people in the Watford crowd. Either that or Johnny-Come-Lately glory hunters, who only started coming this season.
  • Every player being literally assaulted with thousands of balls from the Watford ball boys.**
  • Paddy Kenny giving us both the V sign and pointing out United were 2-0 up in one simple gesture. Some idiot complained about this, an extremely twatish thing to do. I suppose Kenny is perfectly within his rights to get the police to have a word with every single fan who called him a "fat bastard." Apparently, Warnock in response to this told Kenny, "Well, you are a bit fat..."
Derby was fantastic. The big one, they said. Graham Simpson sent appeals through e-mail and loudspeaker to make our noise heard. Ray published his heartfelt programme notes to inspire us. And how the fans responded. What an atmosphere. Neal Ardley got the boys together and led them into a rip-roaring display. They went a goal down but unlike so often this season they came back and won it.

I didn't go. My Dad was too ill to drive. Still, he's losing 1 at the end of the season, and if he thinks he's getting any of my lottery winnings he can think again....

The Ipswich game was on Sky. I don't have it, but a mate does and he videoed it for us, however he mucked up and only got the second half. I cursed him for his incompetence. Yet once I actually watched the game, I reversed my opinion of him. Let's just say that one goalkeeping muck up could perhaps be excused. A second one cannot. Admittedly the second half wasn't actually that bad and Watford hardly ever win here. Still we, no wait - Lenny - could have kept this to 2-1.

Watford's final game of the month was against Wigan. Possibly on of the most impressive visitors to the Vic this season, big yet skilful, Wigan went ahead early on. Yet Watford pulled one back thanks to a typical Heidar goal, hurling himself at the keeper like a man possessed to powerfully head home the ball before Filan could catch it. The Watford defence, including the reinstated Gayle and Chamberlain (in for last week's clowns, Ifil and Pidgeley), kept Wigan at bay and indeed Watford were unlucky not to get a winner, giving a full blooded attacking display in the second half.

Two new fullbacks have graced Watford over the past month. The first has been Paul Mayo, a signing from Lincoln for 100,000 funded by the Russo brothers (my opinion of them has risen significantly - how fickle am I? Still the whole Petchey thing is just a minor suspicion). Mayo was thrown in the fray against Bradford due to an injury to Jack Smith against Stoke. In his five displays, he has adapted well to the demands of the First Division (minus the occasional tendency to forget how far forward he is) and has displayed a potent long throw and a thunderous shot. A fine replacement for Robbo.

Chris Baird arrived with a Watford goal already to his name (an own goal when playing for Walsall). Filling in the gap left by injuries to Cox and Smith (and Ray's general mistrust of Lloyd Doyley), Baird has performed well and indeed, imposed himself on the game. He doesn't just fade in the mind like Stephen Kelly. Wayne Brown meanwhile has been allowed to stay at Colchester for the rest of the season. He is surely destined for an exit.

Otherwise, it has been a quiet and indeed strange month. March for me is when the season begins to actually get exciting, when the league table actually means something and you begin to get an idea of where you'll finish. Everyone has become focused on the run-in and thus there is little or no news.

So I'll say adieu for now. Get behind the team, there's 1 riding on this.

* Speaking of which, "Only Fools and Horses" is rubbish and "Fawlty Towers" should have won. Sometimes I have to wonder about this country, I really do.

** STOP PRESS. The ridiculous farce that also occurred at all the other home games this month was well and truly stopped at Crewe, where the referee simply ordered all the balls confiscated like a man whose greenhouse has been smashed too many times. (And then booked three players for time-wasting when they kicked the ball away, including one from the losing side! - Ed)