Supporting Watford isn’t a perfect experience. Our beloved Vicarage Road has been a three sided building site for longer than I care to remember. We’ve spent and wasted a lot of money. We once signed Kerry Dixon and Micky Quinn. We hired Dave Bassett…
With continued uncertainty around who will own the football club and the ongoing financial constraints, it’s fair to say that all is not 100% rosy in the WD18 garden. If you look hard enough though, as in all aspects of life, you can find some positives.
I have written before about the reassurance provided by the presence of Graham Taylor and Malky Mackay at our club. Both good, loyal men. Watford people. I have also spoken of my pride in the Academy and the clubs ability to bring through home grown players – a story that recently received national recognition in The Guardian (read it here – http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/jul/17/england-world-cup-watford). It’s not just the big, well publicised projects that count though. It can be the little things that make the biggest difference.
On Saturday I was surrounded by little things, well, little people, as I took my daughter and nephew to the Watford FC open day in Bushey. I’ve never been to such an event before and had limited expectations. I guessed the worst that could happen was they’d get a picture with Harry the Hornet and would probably drop their overpriced ice cream on the floor. As it happened, my daughter was petrified of Harry and the ice creams were a bargain. Cheap Solero’s were far from the highlight though.
For the duration of the event, amongst the children, parents, burger vans and exhibits, were clusters of young, athletic men in smart tracksuits. Stopping whenever approached, signing autographs and smiling for photographs. For the entirety of this sunny Sunday afternoon the full Watford squad were face to face with their adoring young fans. For some it got better – modelling the new away kit for the first time alongside Aidy Mariappa and John Eustace, or participating in a game of football with Danny Graham, Scott Loach and Liam Henderson. Instead of watching their idols, youngsters were passing to them.
Now perhaps I’ve gone soft in my old age, or see the world through different eyes now that I’m a Dad, but I can’t be alone in thinking what a fantastic event this was. By giving supporters unlimited and unrestricted access to the players, those that visited were able to take away with them memories and souvenirs that they will treasure for a lifetime. Some will have scored a goal past Scott Loach. Some will have hugged John Eustace. Some will have pictures with Lloyd Doyley and footballs signed by Malky. Tangible, happy memories.
In an era when heroes, whether it be film stars, musicians or sports people seem to be further and further removed from the real world in which we inhabit, it was a joy to see our heroes bringing so much enjoyment to so many.
I don’t profess to know what goes on at other clubs, but I doubt many of those thousands of kids running around in Man United, Chelsea and Arsenal shirts have ever had a kick about with Wayne Rooney, Nikola Anelka or Cesc Fabregas. Well done to Watford for recognising and rewarding us – the fans, with a day to remember.
We’re Watford. We don’t have much, but we make the most of what we’ve got.
Keep the faith, stay positive and Come on You Horns!