Dave Woodhall look ahead to the first day of the season.
Watford away. What a lovely prospect that is; another club who got into the Premier League, gained themselves another fifteen thousand supporters and suddenly think they’re our equals. And this from a club who, before Sir Graham worked his first miracle, were Walsall without the market.
Back in those halcyon days of mass unemployment, and he threat of imminent nuclear holocaust, Watford were a welcome annoyance to the Big Clubs. they came up from division four and briefly threatened to upset the established order. Not only that, they did it with a playing style that was best described as basic and didn’t the press hate it, but as Sir Graham said, “They didn’t say anything when we were going from the fourth division to the first. They only started moaning when we began to beat Liverpool and Manchester United.” The other good thing about Watford at the time was that they had some novel idea about treating supporters as part of the club rather than as a necessary evil and that included away supporters as well. Villa were the visitors when they opened a new stand. This was at the time Luton were getting some well-deserved abuse for their membership scheme and as he cut the ribbon Elton John turned to us and said, “Away supporters will always be welcome here.” Those were revolutionary, and welcome, words back then.
But that was then, this is now and Watford have spent the past decade and a bit careering between the top two divisions. Last time we played them we were diabolical at Vicarage Road over Christmas and at Villa Park they came up with the sort of gamesmanship that would have had Sir Graham turning in his grave and Sir Elton turning in his hairpiece before justice was served with a last-gasp winner from Ezri Konsa. They’re also famous for the sort of player turnover that Barry Fry could only dream of and their own Manager of the Month competition every season.
This being the start of the season they’ll be up for it and we’ll be saying we have to be ready for the first challenge of the post-You Know who Era. The eyes of the footballing world won’t be on us, because we’re irrelevant now and will remain that way until at least five minutes after we dish out our first hammering to a Big Club. Troy Deeney will probably be playing for them and whatever he does won’t be enough. We’ll win, no problem. One down, thirty-seven to go.