Some time ago on a rainy bank holiday weekend, I was flicking through the TV channels and chanced upon a marathon of Simon Schama's History of Britain. I watched with increasing fascination as, century after century, the same mistakes were made.
While I was moving out of my flat in Boston recently, I had a clear out of some old Watford Observers, many of which were from the Vialli era. At the time, we were told that this was a brave new era for the club and we had to move on and accept that this was the way forward for the club. Well, we are still suffering for that monumental mistake.
The events of last Friday have left me feeling angry and betrayed by the club that I love. A small club like Watford needs to engage with the fans in order to survive. If you just want to watch football, there are many places within easy travelling distance of Watford where you can see football of a much higher quality. The special attraction of a small club is the sense of community around it. Nigel Gibbs was a great ambassador for the club and kept the outreach going even during times when there was no effort elsewhere in the club to engage with the community. The current chairman makes lots of statements about being a Watford fan, but in order to qualify as one myself, the main criterion seems to be that I have to agree with him. Dare to disagree and you are suddenly "not a real fan". The manner of the announcement of Gibbs's departure was extremely ill-advised. Styling the departure of someone from the club after over twenty years of service as a "restructuring of the coaching staff" was just rude. Doing it on a Friday, so the news is a week old when the WO comes out next week and simultaneously announcing the arrival of two players, ditto.
As for the new manager, he comes with no track record in management, just the fact that he is a mate of Mark Ashton's (hardly a recommendation, that one). He has made lofty pronouncements about no player leaving the club unless he wanted them to. And his predictions of fighting for promotion sound suspiciously like "We are the Man United of the First Division." He keeps declaring that he is a winner, but I haven't seen anything in his record that could be used to bolster this rhetoric. So far, he has culled the central defence and let go of all the strikers (not sure why he didn't want H, but he can't have or he would have stayed given his earlier pronouncements...and don't give me that couldn't-stand-in-his-way rubbish as he was on his way to anyone who would stump up the cash). All he has brought in are two players who come with very mixed reviews. Forgive me if I don't get too excited about next season. I was very unhappy about the departure of Ray Lewington, but was happy to give the new man a chance. The goings on over the last few weeks (Friday's announcement being the final straw) mean that Boothroyd's reserve of goodwill is already used up. The 2005/06 Hornets had better hit the ground running or they will quickly hear it from the crowd.
I had planned to take some time off to go to Denmark in a couple of weeks, but can't muster the enthusiasm at this point.
I saw Nigel Gibbs at a cricket game yesterday. His message was that "he'd still be around". Once a fan, always a fan, but sometimes it really hurts.