Let’s not beat around the bush here, I have nothing against Watford whatsoever. Their recent history is in part unfortunate power struggle and part breeding ground for promising new managers. First Aidy Boothroyd, then Brendan Rogers and now Malky Mackay have turned their hand to making a silk purse from a sow’s ear – a thing all too uncommon even considering this isn’t the 17th century and sows and silk purses are thin on the ground in the average commuter town.
It’s very rare indeed that I go to and then return from Watford with anything but less cash, acid lager indigestion, a fear of concrete and shattered hopes and dreams. But this is over-ridden by the Watford of the early to mid 80s, Mr Taylor, John Barnes, Wilf, tubby Nige Callaghan and Luther. Even so, I do still really want to see them beaten by Brighton. Why? The answer was written here, before the match.
But in addition to that, we are therealfacup and Brighton are, perhaps narrowly, the underdog from League One. So, as enjoyable as the Watford performances I have seen in recent months and as much as I hope the pip the Budgie peril to the Championship playoffs, I am afraid today we are 100% behind the FA Cup shock.
I must stop here, briefly, because the inimitable European Football Weekends have already covered the whereinafter, howsuchbefore and the whereinthehell about this game better than we can. So we’ll gloss over that stuff and wander into whimsy.
The Brighton fans were top notch and Watford, well, “We forgot that you were here”, of course. We got into this one courtesy of the kind folks at the Eon Blogzine and we were high up in the Rous stand in front of the glamourous Elton’s Bar! It’s one of those locations that is great on view and a grade ‘A’ vantage point over the massed ranks of the Seagull Army. It’s also good if you are a polar bear and fancy a doze.
That was, without doubt, the coldest I have ever been at a footy match. It’s the main reason this report’s a bit late, could not use fingers to write, type nor Tweet. We didn’t even get to hear ‘I’m Still Standing’. My – Oh – My! The only audible sound we heard apart from ourselves was a woman mutter “this is embarrassing” about 70% of the way through a 30 pass Brighton move that was only interrupted by a half-tackle.
All 30 of those passes were met with ‘Ole’ and for an encore “we’re fucking brilliant”. If we’d had cockles, even the icy Vicarage chill wouldn’t have stopped them being warmed. As far as Watford’s moves were concerned, the good ones were all performed by Harry The Hornet. What a repertoire.
The universal managerial code for “calm down”, the hands pressing downwards, palms down, was a common one when the Brighton fans were in full voice. When the “Seagulls, Seagulls, Seagulls” rang out he cocked the trigger and shot them out of the sky. His piece of resistance though was the body-popping/vogueing. Whether this stunning piece of showmanship was to rally the troops or whether he’d seen the dour faces in the Rous and was in mind of the Madonna song “Look around, everywhere you turn is heartache”, we can only guess …
The cheeky chappies from the South Coast were partying hard. When a powercut wiped the floodlights and gloom descended it was “Shit ground, no lights” and “You can’t afford the ‘lectric” but the “Seagulls, Seagulls, Seagulls” song was bothering me. There’s a certain timbre to the anthem that makes it difficult to clearly pick up the word in a baritone mass. Transport your brain from Hertfordshire to early 1940s Germany and it’s quite easy to hear “Sieg Heil, Sieg Heil, Sieg Heil” instead. I’m not for one moment suggesting Brighton fans are Nazis, god no!! Though there is surely a footballing analogy in here somewhere but I’m fucked if I can find it … although the raised arms …
Any more misheard chants? “Well, yes” said Simon. “You know when Palace fans sing “Eagles, Eagles, Eagles”? Yes? “Cheese Rolls, Cheese Rolls, Cheese Rolls”. For sure. It’s up there with the Stranglers “Lays me down, with my Mike Sherons” in Golden Brown. I’m rambling now.
Oh, The Game
Yes, Brighton, while not in total control of the whole game and in receipt of a realfacup yellow card for not killing off Watford, they were utterly superb. If you don’t think you can get out of League One playing football then go and watch the current league leaders. Some of the ticqi-taka triangles were a joy to watch. Gary Dicker stood out, hugged the touchline and retained possession well with some nice passes while Glenn Murray kept everything ticking over. Man of the Match though was Inigo Calderon for his overlapping forays down the right flank. It was like watching Tarrico in his pomp.
Having not got a programme, we’re pleased to report that our earlier Tweets of England-hope Scott Loach’s demise were premature. Instead Rene Gilmartin must accept the blame for a dodgy keeper moment and the most truly atrocious kicking display since we last saw Andy Marshall in goal. He did, however, redeem himself with several very good saves to deny Brighton some breathing space. Watford had their moments but it was largely long range efforts from the frustrated Danny Graham and, I think, Stephen McGinn.
Reports of Brighton being the League One Arsenal are not wide of the mark and with Burton, Hereford & Stevenage gone, them and The O’s remain therealfacup’s last hope for glory this season. There is, of course, Crawley, but as we’ve said before, we’re torn there.
Jolly good to meet Mike and the chaps from Rookery Thoughts and the Rookery End podcast. As a non Watford fan I hadn’t checked it out but now have and it’s well worth a listen even if you aren’t a Hornet. And, here’s a top tip for decent away fans that they might not thank me for but, if you want a nice pint on your way to Watford, why not stop off in Bushey and then walk across the park to the ground – much better welcome than the town centre boozers. We even went back after the game.