Every supporter has a special affinity with their club. Each fan knows their club is special. It’s not always easy to articulate, but there is an unbreakable, unimpeachable bond between supporter and football club.
At Watford, it’s tangible. You can often reach out and touch it. Whether it’s players rallying round in support of injured fan Nic Cruwys, attending and participating in the multitude of local events organised by the Community Trust or the laying on of events like the informal “At our place” meeting held at Vicarage Road this week, there’s plenty to indicate that despite the jump into the Premier League, Watford FC holds a big a place in its heart for the supporters as the fans do for it.
The “At our place” event was the latest in a long line of informal events – usually held at venues throughout the club’s catchment area – where fans are able to ask frank questions of key members of staff. The events are off limits to the media, allowing for frank, enlightening and often amusing answers. It’s basically like going for a pint with the Head Coach or a coffee with the captain.
It’s a fantastic commitment from the club and it’s evident from the responses from those on the panel that they aren’t participating because they have to. They are participating because they want to. Quique Sanchez Flores was clearly moved by the reception he received, the genuine warmth that greeted him was testament to the job he has done so far, but also a vote of thanks for fronting up, for giving up his free time to ask what was an extraordinarily wide range of topics.
Scott Duxbury (Chief Executive) spoke candidly about future plans and gave a valuable insight into the ever changing landscape that Football Clubs find themselves faced with, admitting that some decisions simply hadn’t been made yet; “It could be time to take a breath”.
With the assembled squad currently doing wonders in the top flight, Luke Dowling (Sporting Director) was given an understandably easy ride, although him announcing the imminent signing of Gareth Bale and Ronaldo wouldn’t have upstaged the star of the show.
Much has been written and spoken about Troy Deeney in the past few years, with the overwhelming majority of it positive and full of praise. It’s always a delight to realise it isn’t misplaced. The captain’s herculean efforts on the pitch are there for all to see, but not everyone will be aware of the monumental amount of work he puts into off-field activities too. He’s the undeniable poster boy of Vicarage Road (although the debonair Quique Sanchez Flores is setting hearts a flutter across Hertfordshire and beyond) but there isn’t a hint of attitude or arrogance about him. When he speaks he does so with a clear hint of playful mischief and a quick witted sense of humour. More rewarding however is the passion and frankness in which he responds. Every question asked is treated to an honest and considered answer, nothing is shirked or avoided. Last night’s examples involved an honest assessment of Watford’s plans from throw-ins, Allan Nyom’s yoga prowess, Victor Ibarbo’s sense of direction and his opinion on whether opposition clubs spy on the Watford training ground. Nothing was off limits and nothing went unanswered; it was another stellar performance form Watford’s number 9.
Of course the mood in the room would have been different if Watford sat bottom of the table, but that’s not the point. The important fact is that if Watford were in 20th place the event would still have gone ahead. The panel would still have put themselves in the firing line, welcoming questions and providing uncensored answers. That’s the true key to maintaining a special relationship; working hard and committing to supporters not because the club have to, but because they want to.
Watford are looking good on the pitch, but perhaps more pleasing is the state of the club off it. An organisation in such safe hands is a rare thing, and as Watford supporters we should be proud. Long may it continue.
Come on you Horns.