diamond geezer

 Monday, May 22, 2006

London's Premiership teams: Arsenal, Charlton, Chelsea, Fulham, Tottenham, West Ham, Watford

Watford FCOK, so the final team in the above list is a bit of a cheat because Vicarage Road lies a couple of miles outside the Greater London boundary. But blimey, don't Watford look the odd one out there. One small tinpot Championship side comprising several insignificant non-international minnows, up alongside the League champions, the FA Cup runners-up and some Champions League finalists. It's just that yesterday's playoff victory (nay, thrashing) against Leeds entitles this minor Home Counties side to step up to the big time, at least for one season. Isn't football great?

Vicarage RoadI have to express an interest. I was born less than half a mile from Watford's Vicarage Road ground, so by rights I should be a huge Hornets fan. I should have spent yesterday afternoon bedecked in tasteful(?) yellow, black and red, whilst boozing myself into celebratory oblivion. Things didn't quite work out that way. At the age of six I was seduced instead by one of the big name clubs, inspired by their winning of the League Championship and the FA Cup in the same week. It's easily done, especially when your local side is languishing insignificantly in the lower divisions.

But half of my family did become avid fans of Watford FC. My dad and brother would walk down to Vicarage Road come rain or shine to experience the agonies and ecstasy of League football (and, if we're honest, it was mostly agony). There was a freak week back in 1982 when Watford were the top league team in the country, and they even managed to come second overall that season, but on the whole being a Watford supporter meant decades spent watching grim nil-nil draws against Port Vale in the pouring rain.

Premiership survival next season won't be easy for a club more used to lower-division mid-table obscurity. Watford have been here before, back in 1999 when they last succeeded in the playoffs. They won some early Premiership matches against Liverpool and Chelsea, then collapsed and ended up with an embarrassingly low points total. Only Sunderland have ever failed more convincingly. I'm fully expecting Watford's 2006-7 season to be equally disappointing. But hey, you never know, they might just do OK this time, particularly with the £40m windfall that promotion to the top flight brings. And I might even deign to support my old home team, just perhaps, if they start winning repeatedly in the league or manage a stunning cup run. I guess I've always been a glory hunter.

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