I called in at 10:30am on Saturday to get the Rous stand tickets for myself and my
father for the Fulham game. As I walked down Occupation Road with my wife and two young children I
noticed that the players' entrance was open. I asked my wife if she wanted to
see the stadium, so we walked down the steps, past the changing rooms, out the tunnel...there
they were in the brilliant sunshine...GT and the squad training! After watching for five minutes, my wife
said, "Why don't you take your daughter (aged 3 and 3/4's) to her first match. After
all, it's only £1 for the kids". Great, I thought - it was
the only way I was going to get an afternoon pass to Vicarage Road!
We arrived at the ground at 2:30pm after collecting a Casper the Friendly Ghost
comic (£1.30), Opal Fruits (30p) Wotsits (28p) and two cartons of juice (90p) from the news
agents. We took up our seats in the lower Rous after taking advice that the view
in the East stand family enclosure was not that good despite the attraction of the family crêche
with the slides and toys for a potentially bored three year old.
2:38pm, Wotsits gone, Opal Fruits gone (including wrappers which she had not
noticed whilst she was transfixed to the big teddy bear aka Harry the Hornet), one carton of juice
down. The comic wasn't much use (I forgot she can't read), luckily the biro in my
pocket meant she could draw all over it.
2:50pm Players troop off back to the dressing room...."Where's the big teddy gone,
2:55pm Out come the boys. "Come on Watford," she shouts. Big proud grin on my face -
can't wait until my 18 month old son starts singing "We hate Luton Town, we hate Luton Town, we
hate Luton, we hate Luton, we hate Luton Town". Currently his vocabulary is restricted to "Mum", "Dad" and "that".
2:56pm Crisis...why isn't Harry on the pitch playing? What do I say? How
disillusioned is she going to be? "Oh...he has got a poorly knee" - I think the bluff worked.
The next 37 minutes were a combination of one eye on the game and one eye on my
daughter. She wasn't bored but it wasn't the football keeping her interest, it was Harry the Hornet
over by the East stand. Warming up quite well on the touch line for a teddy
bear with a duff leg.
Then Millwall scored, she was out of her seat like a jack in the box, jumping up and
down punching her fist in the air screaming "GOAL" as I had taught her in the car on the way to the
match. I couldn't stop her, she'd gone mad, little did she know who was
playing in the black and white! The Watford thugs down in the front rows looked up to see who was
cheering - funny thing was that her age matched their mental age! How did they get into the family
enclosure - it wasn't for me to ask where their fathers were.
Half-time came, so too did a visit to the kiosk, another £1.25 on coke and
another 45p on crisps. To date that's £1 for the ticket and another £3.58 on food, drinks and comics to entertain her. On that ratio
my £12 ticket would buy me £42.96 of beer - I didn't need it though, the missed chances and second
half pressure by Watford kept me entertained.
The full time whistle came, by now Ellen was crawling along the ground between the
seats ready to go home. I asked if she had enjoyed herself - of course she had, maybe Watford would
have won if Harry had come on as sub.
This was a day to remember, a far cry from my first game I can remember back in
1977 when I was threatened by a mad Southend fan with a knife wanting my scarf. The next match I
take her to I shall come prepared - twenty two Mars bars, fourteen tubes of Smarties,
eight cans of coke and a guaranteed Watford win. Roll on Valentines Day!