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Players: Tributes:
Steve Palmer
"The crux"
By Jamie Parkins

Some things in life, like the first Stone Roses album and the Botham-inspired summer of 1981, need putting on a shelf and left to treasure. If you take a look a little further down, just past Ronnie Radford's 35-yard piledriver, you should find one Steve Palmer Esquire.

By no means as era-defining as the aforementioned Mancunian four-some or likely to star on a MotD video classic, Steve earned his place on this shelf for his attitude and unswerving commitment to Watford Football Club.

True, Nordin Wooter possibly has more skill in one of his dreadlocks than Steve can claim fits snugly into his size elevens, but then skill and wizardry doesn't always bring home the bacon. If it was Mooney's determination and sheer bloody mindedness that got us to Wembley in '99, then it was Steve Palmer's stoicism and unbridled effort in the face of 20m forward lines and bench-warming World Cup winners that for me was the epitome of our brief and ultimately doomed tenure in the Premiership.

For me, the most memorable moment of that season was in the game against Chelsea at Vicarage Road. That was the day that Steve Palmer picked up Didier 'World Champion' Deschamps and neatly tucked him away in his pocket. Cast your mind back and smile upon the two moments when he let him out briefly. The first was so that the Frenchman could kick out in frustration at a pitch side advertising hoarding; the second was when Steve flattened him a few yards outside our own penalty box. Wiping away the dust, I can still recall Steve carrying the ball onwards...but instead of slowing down the momentum or laying off a simple pass to Micah, the Rookery started to suck him towards them with astonished wonder. What on earth did he think he was doing? Who is this thumbing his nose at us, a certain Italian manager may have thought? Steve ploughed on (for he did plough, he didn't sow) and unleashed a thirty yard screamer that grazed the Chelsea bar. You could hear the Watford faithful smirk - Steve was in on it too.

Now my rose-tinted glasses may have doctored the scene somewhat, but there in essence was Steve Palmer. Committed - oh, yes; workmanlike - 'fraid so; professional - do you really have to ask me that? But most of all, he was important. Incredibly so. He was the crux. That's the best way I can describe him. Sorry, but it's the truth. Oh and by the way, after that shot, he took Deschamps out of his pocket and swapped him for Zola!

Queens Park Rangers have done well out of us this summer. I can't imagine that their fans will be spellbound by Steve Palmer when his debut comes. It wouldn't surprise me if he put in one of his trademark anonymous performances that GT and us learnt to admire. But I am pretty sure that after forty-six solid performances, an obligatory own goal away to Cardiff, a point-saving goal line clearance and a rare headed winner at home to Wycombe, they'll start to learn and appreciate what Steve Palmer brings to a club. Just then they might treasure him like I do so.