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Sunday 7 November 2010 by

This post was originally published on Saturday 6th November 2010 in the Watford vs Forest Matchday programme on page 66.

The world and his wife are always after a ticket for something. From the Rookery End’s Mike Parkin is no different…

My entire world seems to be revolving around the search for tickets. I’m sure I’m not alone in currently being surrounded by an over excited and increasingly frantic gaggle of women desperately refreshing the ticketmaster homepage in a bid to purchase tickets for Take That. It’s quite a sight.

I’m on the hunt too. Not for a chance to see Gary and the boys finally reunited with Robbie, no, I’m waiting to hear if I’ve been lucky enough to score a couple of tickets for the NFL game at Wembley. Even my Father has ticket news. His neighbour is an ex Derby County footballer (who incidentally has shared with me some eye watering tales about Brian Cough) and he has invited my dear old Dad to join him in an executive box at Pride Park for the Watford game. Upon hearing this, my reaction was as you’d expect. I wanted a piece of the action too. Did I get an invite? Did I heck. So, no Take That tickets, no NFL tickets and not even a sniff of the players lounge at Derby.

This seemingly fruitless pursuit got me thinking. They may only be small pieces of paper that these days come complete with an extortionate booking fee, but to me, tickets remain a truly magical thing. A ticket means you are going. You are in. Your favourite band or sporting event awaits. You may have spent enough money to take a family of four on holiday for a week, refreshed every ticketing website known to man until your eyes don’t work or hit redial on your phone more times than you’ve phoned your entire family, but it doesn’t matter. You have got tickets.

It’s the sense of happiness, satisfaction and excitement that I attach to these objects that means I can’t throw them away. Having been so excited to get them in the first place, I can’t bring myself to part with them after the event. Whatever it is I’m attending, if there is a ticket, I’ll keep it. My first gig ticket (Ned’s Atomic Dustbin in case you were wondering), my pass from the final day of the final Ashes test in 2005. I’ve even kept my tatty raffle ticket that served as an admission pass from the Ashton Court music festival in Bristol – and that was free!

I’ll be the first to admit that this behaviour is probably excessive and perhaps slightly troubling. If I’m perfectly honest I could probably lose half of them and never notice. There are some absolute gems in there though, and they include what is one of my most treasured possessions.

The item in question is my ticket from the 1987 FA Cup Semi Final between Watford and Spurs, played at Villa Park. The game itself holds very few good memories, but the ticket is different. I’ll never forget the moment I set eyes on it.

I was ten, and had never been to watch Watford at anywhere other than Vicarage Road, so seeing the words ‘Watford FC’ printed on an Aston Villa branded ticket was cause for absolute wonderment. As I stared down at them on my Dads desk, it was at that moment I realised the thrill and excitement that football could bring. No-one knew what would happen in the game, but I could be sure that I was going to a football stadium that I had never visited before. I could be sure that I would be along side 20,000 other Watford fans singing their hearts out and I could be sure that if we won, we’d be at Wembley. Such nervous excitement,, anticipation and promise. All generated by the sight of a match-day ticket.

I am working on the basis that most of you are relatively sensible folk and therefore won’t feel quite so passionately about tickets, but I’m equally sure you have similar triggers, little things that you see, hear, taste or smell that remind you why you love football. Why you love Watford. In this era of multi million pound deals and the Champions League, those little things are more important and precious than ever.

Come on you Horns!

— Mike

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