By Pete Bradshaw
I didn't go....
14 August 1954. All Saints' Church South Oxhey. The wedding of Mr Eric
Stanley Ronald Bradshaw and Miss Josephine Ellen Withers.
Needless to say, I wasn't there. I'm not that old. But my parents' wedding
was undoubtedly a joyous occasion, despite the impoverished surroundings
of the post-war London County Council estate and its functional parish
Fifty years later and a Golden Wedding celebration. Not in August, that
would have been too conventional. But in December. My brother and his
family down from Langley Park, County Durham (home of Sir Bobby Robson, ex
England manager). A weekend away in the Peak District tucked away on a
farm in the extreme east of Staffordshire.
One hundred and fifty miles away, another golden celebration. The faithful come to Vicarage
Road. To see another ex-England manager and his new found charges. Wolves.
Memories of past games come flooding back. Foremost is the 5-0 win at
Molyneux. Mo Johnston hat trick. Kenny Jackett imperious. The cup win, 3-0
against all the odds. And then more recent times. Kerry Dixon fumbling
around. Kevin Phillips scoring a late equaliser in a game in which we were
Not quite like the 1950s, but certainly of a different era, this Saturday.
We went to Ashbourne for lunch and shopping. No radio to hand. No way of
knowing what was going on. In the market we hear the unmistakeable sound
local radio. "Last season Derby beat Forest by four goals to two. This
season another emphatic victory by three goals to nil." It must be nice to
have emphatic victories in the league.
A text message. Ah yes, I'd forgotten that. "H 1 0." The coded message
brings a smile to my face. Another "Dyche out, Devlin, Ards in."
Another, "1 1." I suppose Olafinjana would be a bit much for predictive
A third "HT 1 1. We're being totally outplayed." My heart sinks. Totally
outplayed again, I think. After West Ham and bits of the Leeds game, we're
being taken apart by Glenn Hoddle's Wolves. That hurts. And with no Dyche
either he missed the game at Crewe, I seem to recall.... We go back to the farm.
I await the final score. Nothing. There is no signal here. Just like the
old days. We have no way of knowing the score. I'd missed "Final Score" or
whatever they call that thing with Ray Stubbs. I'd missed Sports Report,
or whatever they call that thing on Radio Five Live. I couldn't get the
scores from Division Two, or whatever they call it, on my WAP phone. For
reasons that pass me by I can't bring myself to look at the teletext.
Somehow I want this grief to be private, I guess. Not something to share
with all the family. I go upstairs. Maybe the signal is stronger.
Eventually, at about 9.20 the message comes through."FT 1 1, much better
second half, MoM Richard Lee." Phew. Another draw maybe, but not a defeat
and only twenty-one points left to get. Six wins, anyone?
Sunday evening, I arrive back home. Look at the Watford FC website and see
that Ray is somewhat disappointed. Look a BSaD and see nothing. Oh well,
I'm sure someone will do a report on Monday. I could give Lee 4* on the
basis of my text messages but would be stumped beyond that.
It is very odd missing games when you've so little communication with the
outside world. Back in the days when I first started watching Watford,
away games were a mystery only partially cleared up by the Sports Echo
report. Now I usually feel part of the game even if I'm not there.
Paradoxically this mass media makes me feel more part of the club, makes
me want to go to games more. I suppose that might be why attendances are
up since ten years ago. After all, who'd want to stay at home and "listen"
to a series of draws, when we who go know that the team are playing much
better than that.
One final thing. I should thank London County Council for re-housing my
mother's family after the war. They had always lived within a Paul Furlong
volley of Loftus Road (or a Chris Day goal kick of White City). I could
easily have been a Hoop and not a Horn. When she married my Dad back in
'54, and they decided to settle in Watford, my future was cast. As I
walked round Ashbourne on Saturday, all my memories were golden.