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96/97 review:
Hopes were understandably high as we all headed for the South Coast on the first day of the season. That day out was both to confirm and deny those hopes - we won the game with a couple of fine goals but were hanging onto the points for dear life by the final whistle. If we needed proof that we weren't going to stroll our way to the Second Division title, it was all there.

The game itself was memorable only for the unbearable heat and the sheer incompetence shown by the Bournemouth officials, who'd presumably only expected a few hundred Watford fans and were greeted by thousands. Many supporters didn't make it into the ground until half-time, while those of us who'd been there since two o'clock were in severe danger of being fried. It wasn't very nice.

A midweek trip to Walsall brought the first genuine frustration of the campaign - loads of chances, no-one to stuff the ball into the back of the net. Walsall contrived to miss a penalty and still emerged winners, albeit with the second leg to look forward to.

Early injuries to David Connolly and Dominic Ludden did our chances of beating promotion rivals Millwall no good at all. Even so, a shambolic second half performance against a committed Millwall side made for a convincing away win. Three days later, Plymouth came to town and the pattern repeated itself - we dominated the game, yet played with such clueless predictability that we were somewhat fortunate only to lose by two goals. The persistent use of the long ball up to Devon White, regardless of its effectiveness against a big, strong Plymouth defence, left me pretty much speechless.

Two first half goals settled things at Crewe as Alec Chamberlain made a fine debut in place of Kevin Miller. Again, an early pattern had emerged - we were playing well against sides that gave us room and struggling against the more physical teams.