After his fantastic book “Enjoy The Game”, Lionel Birnie is coming back with a new book “The 100 Greatest Wins” which runs down the Top 100 post-war Watford wins. For more information look at his website. And this week Lionel writes about an object that is is synonymous with one of those historic wins.
WFC in 100 Objects – # 11 7-1 Pen
I was not at that barmy game on a balmy early September evening in 1980. It was way past my bedtime and Watford FC featured only briefly at the edges of my life. I was still a couple of years or so away from full-on addiction.
My bedroom then was decorated with posters of Tom Baker. Television’s time travelling genius, Doctor Who, was my hero. My appreciation of the omniscient brilliance of Graham Taylor would come later. I would soon form the opinion that GT, like the Time Lord, knew the answer to everything. In fact, wouldn’t Graham Taylor have made a brilliant Doctor? Initials on his tracksuit top, long scarf, ability to confound alien enemies with long, slightly-rambling team talks…
Improbably, Watford won the second leg 7-1. If you were at the match, you won’t need reminding of the details. If you weren’t, check out my forthcoming book, The 100 Greatest Watford Wins. It’s in there. Probably. Shameless plug over.
How did Watford FC’s marketing department choose to celebrate this monumental result? That’s right, they got on the phone and ordered a batch of pens bearing the score. Pens. Truly, the early 1980s were a more innocent time.
What would it be these days? An App, probably. Something flashy and gizmo-y that appeals to our shrinking attention spans. With just the right combination of flashy graphics to be fleetingly attractive yet instantly forgettable.
But a pen. Who wouldn’t want a commemorative pen?
As I slowly immersed myself in all things Watford FC in the early 1980s, I read voraciously. Programmes, yearbooks, newspapers, Match magazine. I learned quickly but, in contrast to today, not at my own pace. Information was not flying at you from all angles. You had to work at it. These days, you can get on the internet and find out who won the 1972 League Cup immediately. (It was Stoke City). Back then, you had to buy a book, or wait for a magazine to print a roll of honour. Ridiculous. So there were great gaps in the young football fan’s knowledge. Our understanding of past football seasons you hadn’t witnessed was only partially complete.
Then I bought a bundle of Watford programmes from late 1980 at a car boot sale and saw adverts for the commemorative pen. Not only was the result real, they made a pen? Dad didn’t have one.
He’s brought with him a shoulder bag that looks like a girl’s satchel. And a pencil case. Loser. This guy’s just graduated from university and he still has a pencil case?
And then he pulls out a pen. I see the seven and the one on the lettering first. I can feel myself hold my breath.
If I had one of those pens, I think to myself, I’d keep it in a decorative stone sarcophagus. This wally is willing to risk it rubbing against other ‘ordinary’ pens in an unpadded pencil case?
Years later, eBay came along and although I’ve bought all manner of Watford-related nonsense at stupidly inflated prices, I’ve never come across a 7-1 pen. Not so much as had the chance to bid up to £50.01 for it. Where are they all?
Anniversaries have come and gone and the club’s marketing department has inexplicably failed to produce a replica. How about a range of ‘epic scoreline pens’. Watford 8 Sunderland 0. Watford 3 Kaiserslautern 0. Luton Town 0 Watford 4?
Cheers to @putajumperon for sending us the photos of the pen