Main Menu
What's New
Whose party is it?
By Peter Wilson
Saturday's game against the Baggies was bizarre in its own right, but the most absurd event of the day took place before the game kicked off. A presentation was made to Charles Lissack of a bottle of champagne celebrating his ten years on the board of Watford FC, which was extremely cringe-worthy.

With the advent of television and City investment into football clubs in recent years, there has been much made of the improved professionalism of football management. The age of butchers, bakers and candlestick makers - a period when the owner of a football club was the biggest fish in the local pond and who gloried in the association with the football team - was supposedly at an end.

For a relatively small investment, people like Bob Lord in Burnley were the big men in their home towns and the board of the Football Association. Players were bought and sold on a whim, salaries to players were kept to "manageable" levels, but nobody could be more important than the chairman or his team.

Watford may be currently flying high with success on the pitch but it looks like the directors have lost the plot in back-slapping one another. Rather than the butchers and bakers, in the modern age, the accountants, solicitors and property speculators have replaced the local businessmen.

Let's not forget that until Graham Taylor returned to the club, Watford were on a spiralling descent into the obscurity of the Second Division. Turfed out of the First Division after years of under-investment in the squad, an annual flirtation with relegation, knee-jerk managerial appointments and financial handcuffs imposed on those managers, the board and particularly chief shareholder Jack Petchey were at the helm as the Hornet ship headed for the rocks.

During this depressing period supporting the team, there were no bottles of champagne being given to managers, let alone directors, before a match. Hence, the backslapping amongst directors on Saturday was completely out of place in relation to our recent history.

The club has, since Graham Taylor's return, turned the previously tenuous relationship between club and supporters around. Exciting games and results have been achieved with GT's return and fans forums and other club events have helped to mend the bond between the club and fans. Though this may be vulnerable once Graham decides to call time on his 28-year career in football management.

If anyone deserves to get a champagne presentation, it can only be one man - Graham Taylor - for his very visible achievements with the club.

Many people outside of football work for organisations for ten years or more and are often not recognised by their employers. Perhaps a small celebratory lunch or drink held in private but never a public spectacle. In club terms, there are other more deserving candidates for a public ceremony - they would be from the professional (and voluntary) staff who have worked and dedicated their lives to the club - for instance, the one-club player, groundsman, team trainers, medical staff, kit-cleaners, etc.

The directors of the club showed themselves out of step with the fans on Saturday. If they want to maintain and develop the relationship with supporters they will have to forego the silly backslapping ceremonies. The team should have one focus this year and that is getting back to the Premiership - anything else is irrelevant. Let's save the big party for sometime in May and ensure that all Watford fans are invited.