I suppose this is the start of the melancholic few weeks where the play offs
are ended, where we have just over two weeks to go before the fixture list
comes out and we are able to start booking our Apex Savers for the trips in
August and September to the historic and scenic towns of Wolverhampton and
But, apart from missing the football itself, the friendships that you make
over seasons are often put into a state of limbo during the summer.
Fortunately playing for WIFC and being on the mailing list keeps you in
contact with many of those regular faces you grow to... er... recognise over
the forty-two weeks we put ourselves through the agony of being Hornets.
However, I'm sure you'll agree that WML and the WO take on an almost surreal
quality over the summer months, as people are desperately trying to find
something to say in order to keep the interest alive; an attempt to keep the
I'm sure we have all tried to be interested in the regular summer columns of
Olly Phillips about the great penalty miss of the 1954-55 season by someone
who lived in Watford for a full five years after his retirement, but it just
doesn't have the same cut and thrust that a match report about one of this
season's many victories has. I mean, even a match report on Walsall away at
least holds the imagination if only just to see who won the sweep on how
many away fans actually were there!
But there is more to the summer than just a lack of football (which, to be
fair, is getting less and less each year, especially in this World Cup year).
It is the fact that during the season you can always guarantee that on a
Saturday morning if we are away, Rupert will turn up at my place looking
even more of a deviant than usual in his long black coat whatever the
weather, moaning about how either he needs a girlfriend, or how now he has
one, she is moaning about him going to football "again"! Every week the same
arguments are quoted religiously from 'Fever Pitch' that "I've been watching
Watford for fifteen years; fifteen years! And she comes along and tries to change me
in two months. I am right aren't I?" It might seem a joke, but this happens
Then we may stop to pick up Ian Lay, waiting outside his mother's house. He
has to give me a ring on the mobile about ten minutes before I pick him up to
ensure that I haven't overslept, which I am prone to regularly do. Ian will
never hear a bad word against the team, a stubbornness that nearly got him
lynched by everyone at Wigan away this season, with the only blows struck
The other of my regular travelling companions is not on the list, but I have
been going to away matches with Elvis Mark since the 1991-92 season when I
met him at the front of the Vic terrace where we all stood until it was
heartlessly demolished at the end of the 1992-93 season. As far as I know,
Mark has never started a chant; in fact I believe he is constantly
embarrassed by me, and I know he is embarrassed by Rupert sometimes -
especially when his famous hairy white bum gets displayed to all and sundry,
like away at York, when even the application of chips and curry to Rupert's
cheeks (face cheeks that is) could not awake him from his slumber. It was
testimony to how drunk he was that the stewards believed he was handicapped
and thus didn't eject him! But that is the thing about football. We are all
so different in our character, but all so similar when it comes down to the
basics, that of our love for Watford F.C..
While Rupe gets drunk and often comatic, I argue with anyone in authority
about anything they want to argue about, Ian just argues with everyone about
the smallest of issues and Mark, well, Mark watches a lot of things, and makes
a mental note about how not to act if you want to retain a sense of
credibility while on the terraces.
When you arrive in the town where Watford are playing, the bit I love is
just walking into the pub wherever we have arranged to meet, and all of a
sudden there is a little piece of Watford hundreds of miles from home. The
Commitments brought Soul to the people; we are bringing our version of
Fandom to the country, and for generations they will talk about the visit of
the Watford masses in 1998, and how they turned a quiet local pub into a
celebration of GT and Elton John for a mere ninety minutes before wandering off
into the rain.
So now what do Saturdays hold? Well, the garden is in need of a good going
over, and I know I've got some shopping, sunbathing and womanising to do.
But I'd trade it all for the buzz of a day out traveling with Mark, Ian and
Rupe into the never-regions of England, meeting up with Adrian freshly
arrived from an agonising cross country train journey from Leeds, and then
out-singing the home crowd as we occasionally do. Meeting new people along
the way is great; but staying true to your kind is what separates us as
football fans from every other thing in life. A sense of loyalty born out of
nothing except an interest in a club. A way of life has been set out for us
to follow; but when the music stops there is the unnatural gap in-between
songs that lasts far too long.
Bring on the pre-season friendlies; bring on the highlights video.
But most of all, BRING BACK THE HORNETS, as there is Rupert's sanity to