They’re Here!

Pre-Season Friendly – Boreham Wood FC v Watford FC
Tuesday, 17th July 2012, 7.45pm
Meadow Park
Distance 34 miles (the way I went), Attendance ?
Wound tight and waiting to run – like a clockwork toy – I pass the time, every close season. Most suffer with S.A.D. through the winter months but, for me, the deathly silence of the footballing summer is far more troubling. My wife’s given up, she knows she can’t help; there’s only one cure… live football.
Through this period the stoking of transfer rumours hardly touches my ears, never calms my fears, and rarely affects my tabloid-free gaze. And whilst it always upsetting to see the longest-servers depart, I’ve often felt that supporters place too much emphasis on the comings and goings of the players. Changes will occur, but footballers are no different to any of us, whatever our profession, employees – from alphas to gammas – we are all replaceable.
I won’t lie I’ve crammed in a few games since Watford’s beat Boro back in April but this is the one I’ve waited for. Boreham Wood away – the first game for Watford – this is where my heart lies. Rushing home to grab a change of clothes, a snack, and most importantly my son, I check the route and timings. The sun was shining, we have new owners, and our new kit will be on display (albeit with a chicken and egg theme), what could go wrong!
Leaving in plenty of time you sometimes wonder why you bother. Proving they’ve never charted a course through Kew Bridge and the North Circular in rush hour, Google said exactly that; an hour. Muttering obscenities under my breath I choose another option and headed up the side of the capital to avoid both suggested nightmares, and the reported accident on the Westway. Sadly so had everyone else, and so there we sat as time trickled steadily away… On a positive note my son, tapping on his DS, was ecstatic to be seeing another away game. I was ecstatic to hear this, and his mother was I’m sure content just to have peace for an evening.
Two hours later, full of despair for the google folk and other drivers, we were kindly turned away by the steward at the club car park (I know, there was no chance at this time but we were passing so I had to ask/plead/beg). Fortunately it was time for kick-off. Sadly it was also time to tear round packed suburban streets to find a space to shoehorn the car into. Thankfully it didn’t take long. Greeting the steward again moments later, we were in, but what’s this? Sold out?? NO PROGRAMMES!!!

Collecting a team sheet each, as I started muttering again, we wound our way round the neat terrace behind the goal, towards toilets and tea bar (both of which we were by now desperate for), stopping only to inspect the convex pitch and an assortment of players warming up. Finding a suitable perch, the excitement was tinged with an atmosphere of both pre-season calm and curiosity all about us.
From kick off we seem second best, so much so that I begin to wonder which was the Non-League side. For the next two hours my son and I – like many others – chatted throughout the proceedings. Well some of those on the nicely manicured lawn seem distracted so why shouldn’t we? Even in the busy media area journalists were deep in conversation. They’d all come to see the hyped-up ‘Orns, and were probably wondering why… no Pozzo, no Inzaghi, no del Piero, and no coherent play (not that those are connected). I know its early “project” days but the being a talking point is something neither I, nor Watford, tend to deal well with.
Many fans are excited about the changes, but interestingly, those whose words I tend to heed have been fairly reserved in the past month… and hearing the half-hearted cheers as both Hutton and then Mingoia scored – despite the laidback nature of the fixture – I certainly sensed some unease.
In truth the score matters so little that you have to wonder why we all make the effort to turn up for these meaningless fixtures, but then like pilgrims crawling to hot springs; it’s the close season cure we’re all seeking.
After inspecting Zola close up, driving home again, I wondered if what I’d seen had “cured” me. Watford fielded totally different teams in the two halves. Jonathan Bond, despite his tender age and some indecision surrounding the conceded goal, continues to impress me. John Eustace and Lee Hodson again showed their worth in the first half, but the second half team overall looked the more promising. In defence Martin Taylor was solid, and both Adam Thompson and Dale Bennett performed so well that I’m left wondering why One Size is needed at all. In midfield Dan Pudil stood out but no more than Matty Whichelow on the wing, and the other new face Almen Abdi hardly spoke to another teammate all game which is concerning. But it was sunny and we didn’t lose.
“Was it worth it?” inquired a sleepy wife as we walked in… The question hung in the air whilst I thought for a bit. We’d seen two goals, felt the sun on our backs, eaten non-league chips, seen a lovely line of trees, got still wet paint on our clothes, didn’t see the chicken or the egg, saw some familiar faces, and even more familiarly missed a penalty.  I shrugged optimistically, “Yeah!” It wasn’t perfect but I knew it was right to go. When it comes to the pre-seasons, it’s great they’re here, but thinking of Project Watford that I now support, deep down like Carol Anne Freeling, for once I am just a little wary.
This entry was posted in 2012-2013, pre-season friendly and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to They’re Here!

  1. hopticklist says:

    Nice report! I have the same antipathy (right word) to pre-season games, even ones you can claim are in May (have a look). Pal/Watford Aug 18th, when the serious stuff begins 🙂

  2. joebillgibbo says:


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