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98/99: Review:
By Ian Lay
December, and a mixed bag of results which didn't really tell us how much the players were missing GT, who was recovering from a severe throat infection.

First up a pretty dismal encounter at home to Barnsley. But considering the football that had been witnessed in the previous months I suppose we can allow the lads the odd normal game or two. Barnsley were efficient and hard to break down and we wasted the few opportunities that came our way.

Stockport at home saw a return to normal service as the Horns put in a good display to dispatch the visitors 4-2. A game in which we came out of the starting blocks quicker than a whippet with a bum full of dynamite. We could have been 2-0 up after only a minute. In the end it took seventeen minutes to obtain that scoreline with Johno and Wrighty doing the honours. Stockport played their part and had their chances but at every turn found Alec Chamberlain in great form.

Two goals in the second half by Gifton Noel-Williams made sure of victory but the scoreline was rather tarnished by two late goals from the visitors on 90 minutes. But still one of the most enjoyable home games of the season.

I didn't go to Grimsby away. But by all accounts we didn't play badly and were just beaten on the day by the better team. For those that did go I hope you didn't lose too many fingers and toes through frostbite.

Boxing Day in recent years has spelt instant boredom. Those who remember the Gillingham and Notts County games over one such festive period will know exactly what I mean. I even managed to be quite nice about the first of those games. This was until the second one came along a few days later and I wrote a report which consisted of me explaining what one could do with the daily admission fee if one hadn't wasted it at that day's game. It was only when I started getting highly imaginative that Ig told me to stop. Maybe the things involving animals were going a bit far.

But the Bristol City game was a pleasant surprise. Okay, it wasn't the best game we saw at the Vic all season but it was a highly enjoyable game and we did enough to take all the points thanks to an Allan Smart goal which is described as per usual by the eloquent words of our favourite Editor. Do I get a pay rise now? (The answer begins with an 'N' - Ed)

"Smart headed straight at Phillips and Bell fired an ambitious free kick over before the decisive goal. Once more, we were left to gape at the potent beauty of our attacking play. Johnson advanced from midfield to supply Gudmundsson on the right, and the ball was snappily played on into Smart's path. City defender Edwards was also in Smart's path but that didn't greatly matter as the striker trampled over his opponent to slide his shot past Phillips. And it all happened in less time than it took for you to read about it - from here to here to here and GOAL. Wonderful football."
And as it happens that was enough for three points and a lot happier Christmas than had we lost.

The month ended as it started, with a draw. But this was more a point gained rather than two lost against a Norwich team who are very tricky to beat at their place and had only a month previously looked promotion material.

If you want to know how the game went then I suggest you don't read Matt Rowson's report as I can only think he was on some happy pill which made him more appreciative of the game than others. Though I found the match enjoyable it certainly wasn't better than Bolton away earlier in the season. For one thing we didn't win. For another I was surprised we got a draw.

After a fairly even first half Norwich came out the stronger in the second and it was no surprise to me when they scored through Roberts on 54 minutes. Oh, and I would like to take this opportunity to say that I consider him the most ugly person I have ever seen in my life. It is an insult to Welsh people everywhere that he should be one of them and I think he should denounce his roots and just simply say he comes from the planet Saturn. Put it this way Pete Fincham and Rupert Licht have more attractive looking backsides than this man's face. Enough said I think. (Yes, I do too - Ed)

The introduction of Ronny Rosenthal seemed to change the game. All of a sudden we had some penetration up front (Rupe, don't get excited) with the departing Allan Smart having his poorest game for some time. But I believe the arrival of Tommy Mooney earlier at half time was more significant as his energy and bloody-mindedness spurred us on and helped us get a point from the last game of 1998.

In the end the goal came from neither of these two players but their influence in the second half certainly made it possible. Matt Rowson describes the goings on:

"The goal, inevitably, came from a move down the right. Fugelstad, now exhausted, slid in on Bazeley and missed the ball, blocking the full-back's run. The linesman, who'd been receiving some sound advice from the Watford crowd behind him, flagged decisively for a free kick to the evident if inexplicable disappointment of the home crowd. The ball was swung into the box and eventually bundled out to the edge of the area where Steve Palmer crashed home a low hard drive. Roles reversed, the home crowd silent, and "Ipswich reject" and "One Stevie Palmer" echoed around Carrow Road."
So there you have it. Ending 1998 firmly in contention for a place in the Premiership. What would 1999 hold for us? Would GT be back to his old self after his illness? Would Matt Rowson get over the heady night at Norwich? Would Rupe have sex with a sheep? Would Ian Lay finally disappear up his own backside? All good questions. And if you want answers then bloody well read the rest of the monthly reviews...if I ever get round to writing them that is.

Best Moments: Stockport at home without a doubt. Including a truly great game against Stockport Internet in the morning, which ended 4-4.

Worst Moments: For me personally Barnsley at home. For those nutters who braved the cold it would have to be Grimsby away.

Funniest moment: Ben Iroha's first real contribution for Watford; a header back across his own goal while under no pressure, which nearly resulted in an own goal. Heart stopping at the time, but very funny in retrospect.