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BLIND, STUPID AND DESPERATE
 
Editorials:
An open letter
By Chris Demetriou
 
Sometimes it's more than just the football.

I've been a season ticket holder at Watford for eleven years now and I have seen the good, the bad and the indifferent come and go and what I've noticed is that the talented players aren't necessarily the most popular. If talent were enough, players like Jermaine Pennant, Stephen Hughes, Craig Ramage and David Connolly would have been more popular figures at the club. Watford fans demand more we demand commitment (sometimes over pure talent...does the name Mooney spring to mind, anyone?) and we demand mutual respect between the players and the fans (Robbo) that's when a player truly becomes a Watford legend.

I like it this way.

So, what's the point in me writing this everyone knows Watford and what we're about. Well, it's Gifton Noel-Williams. Gifton first found a place in my heart after watching him miss a penalty in a junior's cup game against Luton a few years ago. Standing at Watford Junction waiting for the train back to Kings Langley, I noticed Gifton sitting on the platform in tears I tentatively went over to him, not wanting to disturb him in his moment of sorrow and embarrassment. I told him that I thought he played brilliantly and that the penalty miss was an unfair reflection of his performance. He didn't really respond (I didn't expect him to) he just looked up, smiled and said thanks.

From then, Gifton has had an inconsistent career. Having broken into the first team at around the same time as Wayne Andrews, he quickly became a popular figure among the Watford fans while he wasn't the most polished or accomplished player, or even blessed with an incredible footballing talent, Gifton was part of the Watford cause.

And then he got injured. No one knew if he was ever going to play football again, so on the rare occasions that he made an appearance on the pitch, he was greeted with warmth and sympathy from the fans and we all felt grateful that his career didn't appear to be over.

So, to this season. Gifton has made a few appearances and with each passing game, he receives more and more abuse from the people around me. No, he isn't playing well. He looks unfit, he lacks sharpness and he is slow. To be honest, these features have always been part and parcel of his game to a certain extent, but they seem to be accentuated these days. Somehow, a number of people seem to think that hurling abuse at him will somehow help if people scream at him every time he makes a mistake or is second to the ball, he will do better next time. It won't happen.

I have a wild idea...let's try getting behind him. He's not lazy, I don't think that he actually wants be second to every ball I see him as a player who is trying to come back from a debilitating, career threatening injury. Let's sing his name, let's encourage him, let's see what a bit of confidence boosting can do for him. It goes back to what I was saying at the beginning Watford players aren't all about talent dedication, hard work and commitment is also part of it and Gifton once had all of these qualities.

So come on...sometimes it's more than just the football.

(03/03/03)