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98/99: Review:
By Ian Lay
The month of May in the year 1999. I don't think many Watford fans are likely to forget this period in history, the history of Watford FC. When I'm older I'll be able to turn to my grandchildren and tell them that I saw that goal by Wright, that penalty shoot out, that agony and ecstasy. How do you describe it? How do you tell them how you felt as you saw Kennedy smash home from the edge of the box to give Watford the lead in the final league game of the season against Grimsby? And then to describe the relief as a few moments later Alec Chamberlain manages to get finger tips to Handyside's shot and tip it round the post.

And as the minutes tick away and the messages being passed back and forth between friends that results are going our way anyhow and that we are in the play-offs; a sense of relief that after this hard season, whatever is to happen, we've achieved something.

If there were any nails left on the end of my fingers after that game they were completely erased after the second leg of the play-off semi-final. Having taken a slender one goal advantage from the home leg to St. Andrews all that was needed was a clean sheet. No such luck. Two minutes in and Birmingham score. A messy goal it was too. The King of BSaD Towers describes the unfolding events:

"And then they kicked off, and it all went instantly pear-shaped. With two minutes gone, we cleared a corner but didn't push out far enough to catch Ndlovu offside as the ball was lobbed back in. He dinked it over Alec Chamberlain, it hit the post, evaded Adebola's cumbersome prod, bounced around on the line, nearly got belted away by Steve Palmer, struck Adebola once more and ended up in the net. Classy goal, as the description suggests."

For much of the rest of the game we seemed to be clinging on. Half time came and passed but things started to get better. We started creating chances. Knowing that a goal, a precious away goal, is maybe all that we needed.

But then a stroke of luck. Holdsworth is sent off for two bookable offences. Surely now our chance...but, no, we can't find a way through. Normal time comes and passes as does extra time yet still no end to the deadlock. But finally there must be.


Perfect penalty after perfect penalty rained down, bar one poor one from each side. Something had to give and eventually it did. And we were at Wembley. Chamberlain guessing right to Holland's spotkick.

Wembley here we come.

The feeling of relief, joy, excitement rolling around inside me was incredible. We were there, in the play off final and nobody could deny us that. All the season, all the doubters, all proved wrong. But even now Bolton would be the favourites. They would be the ones that the experts would back, not us. So still more time to confront the doubters and show them they were wrong.

Monday May 31st of the Year 1999. Watford v Bolton in the First Division Play-off Final.

Nothing I can say can fully describe the feelings and emotions that this day holds for all Watford fans. A moment of history, a moment of pure joy, a time to remember. So I won't try. There are many tributes to this day that can be found here on BSaD. Reading them will allow you to take in what it felt like for those people that were there on that day.

All I have to do now is end this month like I've ended all of them....

Funniest moments: Laughing at all those that doubted us, all those so called experts who thought they knew better. To those that doubted Graham Taylor. To those that doubted our players.

Best moments: That sunny Monday at the end of May. The day we joined the top of the professional game in this country. The Premiership.

Worst moments: What are they?