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Are you with us?
Elton John at Watford, 18/06/05
When we married our church caretaker - in his Saturday "job" as usher - asked our guests, "Are you with the bride or the groom?" This apparently determines which side of the church guests sit. Twenty-five years ago, the problem for the bewildered Sidney Robinson and our guests was that they regarded themselves as our friends - not on either "side".

Before the concert, I wondered how many of the 24,000 there were Elton John or WFC fans - or both? Inside the stadium we seemed to be mainly football fans, judging by the number of club shirts on our backs. I should mention here that we arrived in Watford town centre a few hours before the gig and there was an unusually "chummy", very good-natured atmosphere in the town - nice! We especially liked Fuzz's golden-domed hat, spotted in Watford Market where I believe she might have been buying some outsized "Elton" glasses.

Anyhow - the show started! An astonishingly unchanged (from forty years ago), youthful Lulu did some numbers, some were okay, some average while others were really rather good, particularly "The Man Who Sold the World", which I (believe that I) remember her doing so many years ago. We sat on the pitch, while Pete Bradshaw loyally took up his regular row O seat in the Rookery. During Lulu's set he sent me a text that read "bloke in Row P reckons she's not as good as Cilla Black" - good one Pete! Still no sign of who were Elton or football fans, except that this audience had a higher proportion of women than we see at games.

After a long(ish) break, Elton's band appeared, followed by SEJ himself. This was the first time we'd seen him in person - a surprisingly short, tubby figure. We struggled against a weird "gunshot" echo from the Rous stand during "Benny and the Jets" - but now, suddenly we could see who were the Elton fans, the people that had come the see him, the grouping that knew the words to his numbers - all his numbers - every single word of them. Women! Enthusiastic women, many of whom took the most expensive seats in the central pitch block. Not only did they know all the words, they knew the actions, they stood in the aisles, they danced at their seats, alone, in pairs and some in groups - all happy, smiling, all "just like Larry". Believe me, it was brilliant to watch - absolutely super!

"Our" Elton occasionally talked direct to camera, very open and honestly, saying very candidly how much our club had "given him", how much "he owed this club". Later he said he'd do another gig in two years time when he was sixty years old - let's hope it wasn't simply the emotion of the moment. If so, he seemed as vulnerable to foolish emotion as many of us - nothing wrong with that, absolutely nothing. Not "a great man" at heart - just one of us, another foolish irrational football fan.

With darkness, his set really got cracking, faster, louder and more exciting - terrific! But sadly, miserably we got another indication of just who were SEJ or football fans. Two men behind shifted from the benign "yew orns" to mocking homophobic abuse. Perhaps they "had a drink" (I don't know), later they started "siddahn". When they started to throw bottles at a female fan's head, I tried to intervene, they then lost control with me, a bloke on their row tried to help, they began to brawl, my (sitting down, silent) wife got hit, I called stewards over and thankfully they removed one of them. Unfortunately, he convinced stewards of his innocence and was allowed to return to his seat. Equally sadly, his nasty friend later bullied their target, a standing, previously very enthusiastic and happy Elton fan into tearful compliance with his aggressive, insulting and threatening head-on confrontation. Well done, mate - some girl's night out, thoroughly wrecked.

Yes, we did enjoy it, but it was in large part spoiled by the only violence I've ever witnessed or been personally involved in at any event I've ever been to. We and other fans needed protection from violent idiots. Stewards actually had to be summoned - they failed to see, or just ignored, both events. Despite them seeing someone actually grappling and complaints from spectators, they preferred the aggressor's account of the event. Hopefully these were the only such occurrences in the whole stadium that night.

So, if in two year's time Elton does return and Sidney is at the top of the Occupation Road and asking, "Who are you with?" or "What side do you want to sit?", we'll answer - we know where the fun is!

John Clayton