The Championship year
By Chris Salter
The team only registered one victory in the first seven matches of
1968-69, and things looked dire. However, the situation then improved
dramatically and by the end of the year, we were heading the league.
There was also the Cup run, with Scully and Barry Endean netting v Port
Vale in Round 3 for a well-earned victory. Out of the hat for Round 4
came Manchester Utd, away! I got lucky that day. Living in Manchester,
a Utd-supporting friend offered me his season ticket saying, "It
offends me to see massacres, but you might like to remember the
experience of playing the greatest team in the World." With the crush
at the gates, I was filing along to my seat as the game kicked off. The
well-healed Man Utd ticket holders, politely stood up to let me pass,
and as I did so my unbelieving eyes saw Stewart Scullion whip the ball
past the Utd keeper into the back of the net. Man Utd 0 Watford 1; I
went wild and the standing Utd ticket holders sat down to a man as the
whole stand groaned. For the rest of the half, George Best, Nobby
Stiles, Bobby Charlton and Dennis Law were run ragged by the boys in
gold, Scully the Scorer being an inspiration every instant of the half.
It was too good to last, and after a goal mouth mix up, Law managed an
equaliser well against the run of play. It will never matter that, as
"the big freeze of 69" set in, we lost the replay 0-2 before the
biggest crowd the Vic will ever see (34,100). That Scully
second-minute goal was as good as winning the Cup final itself!
There was the natural fear that the Cup run would adversely
affect the team's performance in the league. This didn't happen,
however, and promotion to Division II for the first time in the club's
history was assured by a controversial victory over Plymouth. Watford
went wild after the match, and players wept openly on the field. The
tension was off and the last three games were all defeats, though
Watford still topped the table on goal average from Swindon with,
deliciously, Luton third missing promotion by three points.