At the risk of opening by stating the obvious, it isn’t always easy supporting Watford. It isn’t even always fun. Having said that, I count myself lucky to be a Hornet.
We’ve had a brief stint in the limelight, we’ve been in Europe and played at Wembley. Not many fans of clubs our size can say that. What pleases me most of all is that when all is said and done, we are far, far removed from the Sky Sports generation and all the ghastly hype that goes with it.
Alright, so we’ve had a crack at the big time a couple of times and continue to sail pretty close to the financial wind as a result. However, we have a three sided ground and when asked for their favourite player, most Watford fans would answer Lloyd Doyley. Watching Champions League football from a fifty quid seat we are not.
Occasionally I see Watford fans complaining that we don’t get enough coverage across the media. This has been an oft repeated complaint, and during our pomp in the 80’s, it was made with some justification. Now though, why should we have any coverage apart from that afforded by the Watford Observer and seeing goals on the TV? We are an average Championship club, and quite frankly that’ll do for me.
At our level, there is still just the faintest hint of what football should be like. There are still brick outhouse defenders, awful refereeing decisions and quaint grounds to visit. You can get a ticket. If you were so minded, you could probably get a couple of your heroes to sign your match programme. Who knows, you might beat a bigger opponent in a Cup competition (although judging by the celebrations when Priskin netted against Chelsea last year, simply scoring could be enough…) It’s all pretty straightforward really.
Tuesday night was a prime example. Anyone other than Sheffield United or Watford fans would probably have to have been paid to watch the game. Had they seen the first 20 minutes, they would probably have to be paid again to stop them from leaving. It wasn’t pretty, and Watford’s three goals came as a result of calamitous defending as oppose to breathtaking attacking. It wasn’t a great game or a great spectacle, but then again it didn’t need to be. We don’t, or at least shouldn’t suffer from the illusions of grandeur that seem to inflict much of the footballing world. We don’t need to qualify for the Europa Cup and to then pretend that playing in Europe justifies the ludicrous sums of money paid out in fees and wages. We don’t need to play slick one touch football to keep those football tourists paying £1,000 for a season ticket happy. We don’t have to put up with endless speculation about our mollycoddled, overpaid, undereducated players and their performances on and off the pitch. If our team turns up and wins, that’ll do for us. In fact scrub that. If our team turns up, plays well and loses that’ll usually do too.
I rarely watch Match of the Day any more. I find the whole thing so tiring. The endless analysis. The banal comments from players, managers and pundits. The inevitable highlighting of an awful challenge, constant diving and woeful refereeing decisions. I just don’t need it in my life, no matter what Sky Sports and Andy Gray tells me. I still love football, and I thoroughly enjoyed Manchester Uniteds’ demolition of Arsenal on Sunday. My view isn’t so jaundiced that I can’t recognise and enjoy brilliant football. I just don’t need to be endlessly told it’s brilliant over a Kasabian soundtrack.
Watford V Sheffield United didn’t matter to the wider footballing world. Watford don’t really matter to the wider footballing world and the coverage we get reflects that. But that suits me just fine. Why? Because Watford matter to me.