The last time I spoke to Sir Nigel Gibbs he was standing in the garage opposite the Red
Lion on the evening of the SEJ concert at the Vic. He was there with his
wife and rellies and had just parked up.
I was trying to explain to the steward that I needed more space to park than
most, not only because of my 'skilful' driving, but in order to get my
wheelchair in and out the car. (A fact that the steward didn't seem to
understand). The steward walked off and SNG guided me into a big enough parking space so
that I could leap majestically into my wheelchair.
I know his mother in law, as she used to work in the same place as me, as
does my friend who I took to the concert, so we had a little chat before
wending our way down to the concert.
A truly magical evening.
Lump in throat time whenever Sir Elton John mentioned WFC, and being down the front, I
swear that SEJ mouthed "Wow, look at the Rookery". I was so chuffed when he mentioned SNG's anniversary to, and remembered
watching him play for the juniors up at Woodside.
It was also my birthday, and what a way to celebrate. At the most magical place on earth and seeing, and being with, the
people who mean the most to me in the world and always will. Most of these people I have met through watching WFC over many
years, some I only know as 'faces' that I see at footie, and some mean more to me than mere words can say. We met through
football, through WFC.
Of course, in an ideal world, the Horns would win every game and the trophy
cabinet would be full and require an extension every May. But, no, WFC are the greatest team in the world because they are
my team and I truly don't care what division they are in or whether we win trophies. That's not why I support the
Horns. Granted we will occasionally flirt with the cups and may one day get back to the top division, and get our passports
out for trips other than pre-season.
Okay, I'm a sentimental old git but for those ninety minutes we are all in ittogether, whatever our circumstances out
in the 'real' world. Of course, as in the 'real' world, players and staff come and go. Some are soon
forgotten, some move on to bigger, not necessarily, better things, and we think no less of them for that.
I thought that the sacking of RL was an absolute disgrace, to say the least. He was - sorry, is - well respected within
the game and if we had been relegated I don't think we would have had a problem getting promoted, and I
was gobsmacked that a club like Watford had done this but a few short weeks
after the board were singing his praises. After all, we are different from
all the others, aren't we?
I found it very painful to watch the reasons that GS gave out, was too busy
shaking my head. We finally, I felt, were getting the 'old' WFC back...and you
can keep your Moan U and Chelsea, that is something special. Can't explain,
but you know what I mean.
From memory, one of the reasons given for sacking RL was the need to develop
our 'own' players. Now, this is something that WFC has always had to do, and done very
successfully over many years, and no doubt will always have to. Had GS forgotten that two years previously, the Ressies, playing some
fantastic football, had won the Premiership Reserve League with a largely home grown team?
Somewhere deep in my Hornet heart an alarm bell started to ring, but I dismissed it. GS and his mob were always going on about
continuity and stability so we lost our Ray, and what a loss, but Nige would be okay.
The rest of the season was a blur. I've never met AB, save for a few minutes at
the sponsors' evening and have nothing against him. Still trotting around the country watching the first team and ressies, I
noticed how much better and relaxed the ressies seemed to play when SNG was
in charge. The club 'policy' was that the coaches alternated.
Surely AB, or whoever, would notice this?
Having 'finally' found out where WFC pre-season tour would be, I was relieved that I
managed to book the time off work in order to go to Denmark and was trying to
work out how I'm getting to Redditch. Was on the computer sussing out the flights and whether to go there and back
for the two games or stay for the week. Decided to wait a bit and haven't
booked the flights yet. Going into work earlier this week, I was just getting into the lift when
someone told me that they had received a text from someone who knew Barbara
(SNG's mother in law) and there was a rumour that he was getting the sack.
Just as the doors closed, I said, "Never - he is WFC," They wouldn't do that.
The suits may be prats, but they wouldn't do that. At lunchtime that day, I texted a few people with the 'rumour', but could
not believe it was true.
The previous week I had received a letter from WFC, which I get every year
asking for a donation so that I can park in the garage opposite the ground
for WFC games. On the way home from work, the day after hearing the SNG rumour, I went down
the Vic to renew my parking and said, more in passing, that I hope SNG will
be here. Nobody said anything.
Friday lunchtime and as I have this message thingy on my mobile from WFC about
the signings and so send this to a fellow Hornet. Next thing my mobile rings to tell my that the rumour was confirmed.
Went back to work to see the club's latest communication.
I don't care if AB goes on and wins the league by Xmas. Even if he does, well done
but the damage is done and if the people in suits don't understand then it
says it all.
I have had four letters in the last 2 weeks all with reply envelopes asking me
to renew my Hornets Foundation Membership so that's where the money is
going. When I 'renewed' my parking space, I said not to bother to send it out, I will
come and collect the pass to save WFC money as I only live and work a short
distance away. A letter arrived this morning to say that my application had been processed
and they will send my pass out close to the start of the season.
Not sure if I will be needing it.
Unlike my tattoo, the memories will never fade. My heart is broken.