October was dominated by injuries (for the players), flu (for the supporters), phone calls from Rupe (for all of us).
As like most months so far, there was no clear pattern over the four weeks. It started poorly and then suddenly got much better. So maybe there was a clear pattern. Just not the clear pattern we want. Which is? Well win, win, win, win, win. Yeah, I know, I'm dreaming.
The poor start was due to the loss of Dean Yates, who had really started to look in form at the end of September. This meant shuffling the pack at the back. And in came Steve Palmer for the game against West Brom. Robert Page, who might have been expected to make a start in this game, damaged his back whilst bending over to pick up a bag!! Yeah, Robert we believe you......not.
Anyway, the game was on telly, so we lost. As we always do on telly. 4-1 to be exact. And I went..... and somehow enjoyed it.
It was a fairly good game to be fair, but we looked lost at the back without Yates. And it was also starting to become noticeable that the 3-5-2 formation just wasn't working that well.
The only person to come out of the game with any credit was Nick Wright, who is looking a bit of a bargain to be honest.
Oh yeah, and the West Brom stewards are *^%%^%$^%$, but then again you knew that already.
Six days later and another Midlands team. This time Birmingham at home. The way we played in this game, the fact that we had put the previous game behind us so well was a sure indication that we can cut it at this level. Though, to be fair, in the first half we weren't exactly at the races. The second half was a complete turnaround and not only did we equalise, but we made a very good case for a winner as well. This against a side that was one of the pre-season favourites for promotion.
Tranmere away was next up and the only game I missed in October. A good match, apparently, which we could have got something out of. Some people reckoned we should beat teams like Tranmere, but despite the fact that at the time they were bottom of the table, they have in recent years been a good side and I expected that they were in a false position. And they were. They went on after beating us to have a nice little run and have now pulled themselves off the bottom of the table. I have no doubts that if we don't go up we will be playing them again next season.
October 20th 1998 will go down in Watford history as a day to remember. It is unlikely that I will see a better game this year. Both sides played some blistering football. We played a 4-4-2 formation. Which is maybe very significant. Because the first fifteen minutes against Bury aside, that is what we played for the rest of the month, and also into November.
Most of us were expecting to get a good spanking by Bolton (Rupe was especially looking for a good spanking). And after twenty minutes, in which though they had the better chances we were creating things, they scored and we all thought that that was the start of the floodgates opening. But amazingly it wasn't. We equalised just before half time and spent most of the second half keeping Bolton at bay, though looking dangerous on the break.
With three minutes remaining, and everyone checking their watches and counting down the seconds, the unexpected happened. We scored. It was unbelievable. We'd come up to the game expected to be beaten easily and had come away with a win. Even now as I watch the MPEG file of Kennedy's goal I still can't quite believe it.
Back to reality on the Saturday and Port Vale at home. After the midweek heroics, this one should have been a formailty. But it doesn't work that way, especially against a team who are quite capable like Port Vale. In the end the game could have gone either way but a draw was a fair result.
The game gave us some good performances from the Golden Boys. Allan Smart is looking the part up front and a certain Johann Gudmundsson bagged two goals on his full debut. Definitely a great find and a star of the future.
Bury away on the 31st, and what a way to end the month. This was Bolton all over again, in a way. We knew we could get a result at Bury but after the opening twenty minutes the only result you could visualise was defeat. We were 1-0 down. It could have been 3-0 or 4-0. But then the game changed very suddenly with a piece of pure magic from Darren Bazeley. The words to describe the moment come from.... erm... me actually:
"Bazeley, just outside our area, picked the ball up and went on a surging run down the right flank. As he crossed the half way line he cut inside and played a neat one-two with Allan Smart. This left him on the edge of the Bury penalty area. He cut inside again, held off the defender and sent a low curling shot past the despairing Kiely. If it doesn't win goal of the season, then I'm a funny shaped banana."
Then, just before half time, we took a very unexpected lead through Ngonge, who according to Dr. Dave had down "f**k all" so far (he said this twenty seconds before he scored).
And the second half was, well...a formality, really. We didn't look in much danger after the first five minutes, and even added a third ourselves through Smart.
So two wins, two draws and two defeats. Still in touch with the leaders. In the play offs. Not bad really.
Best Moments: Bolton and Bury away and Bazeley's goal at the latter.
Worst Moments: West Brom without a doubt. I HATE SKY. I HATE THEIR STEWARDS.
Funniest moment: The West Brom fans singing "Elton takes it up the ahhh" in response to our "We only ahhh when we're winning". Which all came about because we shout "aahh" at opposition goalkeepers when they are just about to kick the ball. But that day we took it a bit further because we were bored. And this is now the longest ever "funniest moment" I've written.