By Julie Gibbens
The planning was over, the T-shirts bought, the balloons and ribbons collected, the car arrangements made. I left Chepstow at 6.20 (unearthly hour - are we mad or what?). Three stops later it was 7am and our intrepid band were settled in the car - myself, Michelle, Craig, Charlie, Steve, Sam and Will Holman - and we were off.
For those who do not know, 'Boro is a long way away - a very long way away. As we headed up the M5, Steve mentioned that he had never been this far North before. No further North than Worcester, are you joking? He meant to 'Boro! We headed onto the M42, Trusty Navigator at the fore, and stopped for breakfast. A few strange looks - who were these yellow clad beings? - we ignored them all! Spirits rose as we continued - hooting West ham, Sunderland and other Hornets cars on the M1. For entertainment we had a tape of 'Pavarotti', 'Who let the horns out' and the theme tunes to two well-known chants.
We reached 'Boro at 11.30. Five miles away, it was a beautiful hot, sunny day. Not so here - it was cold, it was overcast. Did we care? You bet we didn't! The pub was quiet at this stage - even a space in the car park for the Hornetmobile (who seemed to be enjoying the day as much as we were!) Face painting was under way and over the next two hours the place came alive with a swarm of Hornets - most dressed in yellow, with an assortment of wigs, flags and scarves.
Slowly the faces were painted, the kazoos given out (we finally all worked out which end to blow them!), the balloons handed round and the yellow pages torn into tiny shreds of confetti! The police walked in - "Z Cars" on kazoos is a wonderful sound - and offered us an escort to the ground. By this time the pub was resounding to the sound of upwards of two hundred Hornets singing their hearts out with renditions of "EJ's Taylor-made army", "GT's having a party" and a variety of others to numerous to mention here.
At 2.15, we marched on the Riverside - a quite unbelievable sight to the locals who must have wondered where this invasion had come from! Singing, smiling, waving banners and flags and blowing the kazoos, we made our way to the ground.
Once inside the stadium the sight was quite spectacular - everyone was on their feet, everyone seemed to be dressed up, everyone seemed to be in a party mood! Our players came out to a rapturous welcome - I'm sure the 'Boro stewards are still clearing the ticker tape as you read this! - and for the entire game the Watford faithful sang. We sang and we sang and then they scored and we sang, we sang some more and then we scored and we sang and we sang and we sang and in between we blew our kazoos and we taunted the 'Boro who sat stiff and starchy not quite knowing what had hit them! Several new songs were formed - 'Relegation with a smile' being just one of them. We sang to the Winnie the Pooh balloon as it sailed out of the stadium, to the police, the stewards, to our beloved Graham and to all the players and they waved and acknowledged just how brilliant we all were. At the end of the game, GT and the players came over and received another rapturous reception - it made us all very proud!
Outside the 'Boro supporters were full of admiration and we sang some more on the way back to the pub. The journey home flew - unbelievably - aided by a glorious sunny evening, a feeling of being the proudest supporters in the land, and that tape accompanied by a choir of kazoos. We stopped en route - this time our faces painted - and were rewarded with looks of utter bewilderment in some cases and curiosity in others.
With everyone dropped off, I headed back to Chepstow. It was 11pm. I was on a high. When you support a team do you always get back what you put in? I no longer had any voice - what little had been left after the game had gone on the journey home. I had driven six hundred miles, I had been on the go for seventeen and a half hours, yet I had joy in my heart the like of which comes but rarely to supporters of other teams it seems! I was proud - proud to be a Hornet, proud to know SW Hornets who feel just the same and proud that whatever happens I can truly say I am Watford till I die. 'Relegation with a beaming smile' would have been a better description!