Unlike Matt, I did not watch Doctor Who on Saturday. I used to watch it, as a child, but that had a fair bit to do with my crush on Doctor Who's assistant, Nyssa, and in her absence (Billie Piper not really being my cup of tea), Ant and Dec got the Smart family vote. Or, at least, my vote, and I control the remote, so that's all that matters really.
At the end of Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, for the uninitiated, is a chance for one member of the audience to win a truckload of prizes; five of these are great (cars, holidays, computers, etc.), a few of them are quite agreeable (microwaves, kettles), and the majority are 'every day' items (socks, detergent, bread, sanitary towels...okay, not quite 'every day'). Ant and Dec will ask a series of questions, each correct answer gaining one unspecified prize for the contestant. Typically, they will have four or five of the twenty prizes. Next, not knowing which prizes they have won, they have to decide whether or not to gamble the prizes they've won for a single fifty-fifty chance to win the whole lot.
Invariably, the audience screams "GAMBLE!"
Invariably, a few celebrities are lined up to advise the contestant to gamble. (Actually, there was one exception to this: Sir Cliff Richard advised the contestant one week to take the prizes, advice that was ignored.)
Invariably, the contestant decides to gamble.
Sometimes, the contestant wins. But far from all of the time.
The thing is, up and down the country, sets of football supporters shout "GAMBLE!" every week. Most notably, the West Ham fans have particularly been going for it, with (absurd, in my view) shouts for Pardew to leave, and for huge amounts of money to be spent. Similarly, the Derby fans last season didn't seem to get the idea of being broke, and the board appeared to have succumbed to the shout.
But at Vicarage Road, there were no such shouts. Perhaps we are the 'Sir Cliff Richard' of football support. Questions as to how to prioritise what little money is and will be available, perhaps. But no demand to spend money that we didn't have, and no demand that the manager be changed in the hope that we might stumble across a better option. Well, not from many people, anyway.
Yet it would appear that our board needs no encouragement in that direction.
We still live with the consequences of the last time our board (albeit consisting of largely different personnel) rolled the dice to decide our future. And here we are again. Oh, it's a very different sort of gamble; the 2005 equivalent of Ramon Vega (Harry Kewell?) will not be strutting into Vicarage Road in the summer. But getting rid of a proven good manager (because that's what he was - is) in favour of a rookie, with almost no experience of coaching senior professionals is one serious gamble.
It might work; you won't find me complaining if it does. But you won't find me congratulating the board either. Which may seem unreasonable; you may say, "Well, the board can't win, then". And no, they can't, not as far as I'm concerned. But they have put themselves in this position. Any good that does come out of this - much as I will enjoy it - is born of the sort of gamble that I do not want my club to be taking. We've been there. We've done that. We're still paying. The board don't know, any more than I do, whether or not the Boothroyd era will be a successful one.
Thus endeth Part 1 of what I wanted to say. Part 2 is a simple message.
That none of this is Adrian Boothroyd's fault. He did not sack Ray Lewington. He did not stand on our terraces shouting "GAMBLE!" He starts with a clean slate.
For, such is our predicament, we cannot afford the luxury of a period of resentment. Adrian Boothroyd and the players need to know that they have our total backing. He deserves to be judged, after a time, on what he has done with what he has been given. And I for one will be at Burnley and at Plymouth in full voice, giving our boys my total - and highly vocal - support.
But he needs to beware: at any point, our esteemed board could fall off the wagon. That urge will once again need to be satisfied. And no matter how well or badly things are going, the board will decide it's time to spin the roulette wheel once more.
And just a message for Graham Simpson et al. At the end of the season, when we've survived the drop, as I'm sure we will, and you are all slapping each other on the back, congratulating yourselves on a job well done, know this: I don't buy it. I didn't shout "GAMBLE!" But you bloody well did it anyway. It may pay off, it may not. But if you don't learn to shake this habit, it is going to end up costing me my club.
Graham Simpson said last week: "I'll be judged by this." Wrong. He already has been.