"Better than that"
By Colin Wiggins
A great player despite himself. An automatic selection for the Greatest Ever
Watford Team, his obsession with DJing and the superficial world of clubbing
took precedence over being one of the greatest right-sided attackers the
England team had ever known. Sometimes he looked as if he couldn't be
bothered and unfortunately that impression was probably correct. He was
certainly the finest crosser of the ball the club has ever had, a perfect
foil for John Barnes on the opposite wing and a perfect provider for the
immortal Ross Jenkins.
His dribbling skill was the equal of Barnes', his shooting more
unpredictable and often devastating. One of my all time favourite goals came
against Manchester City. He collected the ball in the centre circle,
advanced maybe ten yards and unleashed a cannonball. Often goals are
described as being from 'fully thirty-five yards' but on watching the video
replay, you see a shot from the just outside the penalty area. But this was,
if anything, fully thirty-six yards. His back-heeled goal against First
Division West Ham in the Cup, during the 1981/2 promotion season, was
described by Motty as "the cheekiest goal you'll ever see" and summed up his
brilliant improvisational skills. His free kick two years later against
the same side at Upton Park, during the Cup Final season, was a rocket. So
many others stick in the memory. He possessed surely the best shot of any Watford
player, Tom Walley, Ian Bolton and Richard Johnson notwithstanding.
But he never completely won over the fans. Their loudly-voiced frustration
with his apparently lazy play was surely a contributory factor in his
ultimately disappointing career. Were they stupid or what? Very probably.
But it is right and proper that those berks, cretins and morons who were
forever goading this unique talent should see his name permanently etched
into the Greatest Ever Watford team. If they can read, that is. With a bit
more understanding from the supporters and with a bit more dedication from
the player himself, he could have become an England legend. Instead he
turns up on a Channel 4's late night "Sun, Sea and Sex" programme trying to
impress by putting a condom on his head.
You were better than that Nigel, a lot better.