"The only team he wanted to play for"
By Andy Stocks
Just before the Port Vale away game in the 98/99 season, there was a Sponsors
Evening. We had just started that dramatic charge for the play-offs and I
was sharing a table with Robert Page.
Hope and wonder filled our thoughts, these were heady times. We had no
right to consider making the play-offs, for heaven's sake, we had just come
up from Division Two the previous season.
Pagey was great value. He chatted tirelessly with us, answering the same
questions many times over - questions about Watford, Wales and playing
against Brazil. He seemed to enjoy it, he had an enthusiasm for it, winning
does that to you. Then I managed to collar him without others listening,
and asked him what he honestly thought...I mean, "do we really have a chance
of the play-offs? How do the other guys feel about it?" Without a moment's
hesitation, he looked me square in the eyes and said "Oh yes, we're going to
make them and we're going to win. Next season we'll all be Premiership
He said that with such conviction that I knew he truly believed that he
believed what he was saying. He wasn't just stringing me a line, he really
felt it, we were going up. It was tremendous to hear - indeed, as a fan that's
exactly what you want to hear. It was obvious how much it meant to
Robert, he was our captain and it meant the world to him. He'd signed as a
lad, came through the ranks and formed a formidable partnership with Steve
Palmer at the back. Watford was his club, the only team he wanted to play
for and he was loving it. Like the other lads in the squad, he was riding
high on the tidal wave of success.
I told him a few anecdotes about students at my college trying to distract
me by continuously asking me about Watford and our chances, when previously
only derision had been heard from them. He loved it, and a few
days later I heard him passing on these anecdotes to others at another club
function. He cared passionately about Watford FC, something that should
never be doubted.
His Watford career started slowly, Glenn Roeder never really gave him a
consistent run in the team, but following his departure and the return of
GT, Page became a fixture in the line-up.
The height of his Watford career must have been that day in May at Wembley.
His performance was composed and commanding. How he could calmly see the
ball past his own post when 38,000 Watford fans there having palpitations, I
will never know. How proud he was to collect the play-off trophy and how he
He was "player of the season" in our Premiership season, despite being in the
centre of the division's leakiest defence. The following season saw a
downturn in form and in fortunes for our captain. How much of this was due
to family tragedy will never be known, but as Watford's fortunes dipped, so
did Pagey's. At times, it was painful to watch. Some people got on his back
and criticized him endlessly. They forgot about the many years of solid
service he had given us, they forgot about his passion for the club, they
forgot about how mad he went on the very rare occasions that he scored
Taylor left, Vialli joined and Page found himself dumped on the list without
a word of explanation from the incoming manager. It was harsh in the
extreme. He received little sympathy from some Watford fans with short
memories, which is very sad. His passion and commitment to Watford could
never be doubted, he was a leader on and off the pitch. Page was always one
of the last players to leave the pitch after applauding the fans after every
game, he never forgot us.
Wherever his career takes him, I wish him well and thank him for the
memories. After all, he was our captain during one of the most successful
periods in Watford's history. Cheers, mate.