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On pie eating...
By Stuart Campbell
Pies have long been a favourite topic among the football faithful. Mince, steak and kidney, apple, even balti pies. Which ground offers the best, which the worst, and which goalie eats the most.

Personally, due to a long-ago fan apprenticeship in the lower reaches of the Scottish League, I still nurse a masochistic longing for the great Mutton Pie. Usually - and somewhat bizarrely - teamed with a cardboard cup of incandescent Bovril, a greasy mutton pie was the only feasible way to fortify the body and stay vaguely alive through the ninety minutes of a goalless draw on a freezing January fixture between the mighty Sons of the Rock and the Warriors... a true aficionado's fixture if ever there was one.

But the pie that's been exercising my thoughts in the last couple of weeks has been of a different flavour altogether. It's the old 'umble pie.

I don't regret for a second being amongst those who publicly berated the club, both on this site and on the letters pages of the WO, for their handling of Nigel Gibbs in particular, and their approach to fan PR in general. However unpalatable, the chairman and board had every right to do what they did over the last few months; it was the way they did it which so depressed so many Watford fans.

The feeling was that they weren't listening to the fans and didn't seem to want to. But, without doubt, they have listened. There is suddenly less heavy-handed spin, a disappearance of ego-driven missives. There are fan forums being organised. There is much more straightforward communication coming out of the club. The arrogant PR approach seems to have been quietly ditched. It feels much more genuine, as well as more professional. If that amounts to a touch of humble pie for the club, then so be it. I'm happy to share the plate.

It has helped, of course, that the team has started the season in blistering form. Nothing banishes the blues like good displays on the pitch. Adrian Boothroyd has been true to his promise of bringing exciting football. Only the most hopeless curmudgeonly moaners would deny our new man a decent period to prove his worth. And, despite one or two strange and debatable transfers, he has made a fine start. He also seems able to bring the best out of players, significantly both existing players at the club and newcomers. To a Forest fan, Marlon King must seem unrecognisable. Ditto Leeds fans and Clark Carlisle. For Watford fans, who would have thought we would be seeing a born-again Macker? And the exciting development of up-and-coming talents like Ashley Young is enough on its own to quicken the step down Cardiff Road before kick-off. With my built-in Scottish bias, the appearance of the gloriously uncompromising Malky Mackay is also a decided bonus. The cloud of pre-season disinterest is definitely lifting.

Time, as always, will tell. Injuries and off-days will inevitably test the true mettle of this new-look team. But so far, AB's rollercoaster is proving great fun. He's giving us that eternal fan nourishment, too - hope. Maybe, just maybe, it'll be apple pie, custard and cream this season.