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In the clear...?
By Pete Fincham
If for one minute you thought that we were in the clear, think again.

Whether the transfer of Paul Robinson goes through today or not, the fact that Watford Football Club need the transfer to go through is indication enough that the club is still in a tunnel and there's no sign of light.

Robbo may not be the best left back to play for the club, and he may not have even grown up a Watford fan. But Robbo is a warrior, and since 1996-97, he has been our warrior. He is "Man of Watford", having played for St Michaels School in their triumphant National Cup run, having fought his way through the youth system to break into the first team while still playing for the youth side, scoring against Luton and celebrating like he was one of us. For Robbo was, and we like to think will remain, one of us.

Since Vialli showed Robbo how he could, and possibly should, be getting forward, the sight of him hurtling into the box for a pot shot or block tackle (remember that goal against Wimbledon where he scored with a tackle?) has been a given. He also scored one of the most memorable goals I have seen at the Vic, with his sublime right foot finish against Charlton. It was one of the most complete performances I have ever seen by a Watford player.

Of course, he was silly at times. His sending off against Norwich, that tackle away at Port Vale, the comical own goal against Stockport, and didn't he try and rugby tackle someone once? But for these occasional misgivings, you would take them knowing they were all part of the character we had playing for us; and for every infraction or error, you knew you would see a reward with interest.

I like to think that his celebrations at the end of our victories - where he ran to all home stands shaking his fists like Robert Page with hair - summed him up. Fiercely passionate, always wanting to win, and whatever the result he would always show that he genuinely cared about the fans. I remember the look of absolute disgust on his face when, during the 2001-02 season, his team mates skulked off after (yet) another away defeat. Robbo tried to show some respect for those who made the long trips North by making an effort to thank us. He was not one to hide.

And so to 2003, where after an indifferent start to the season, the finances have determined that Robbo will be a Hornet no longer. 400k is not a lot of money, and what we will inevitably receive now is significantly less. His wages, by past standards, are not that high at around twenty percent of that buffoon Vega. But in this new world of cost cutting and belt tightening, Simpson and company are left with no option but to continue the asset stripping in the hope that what is left can keep our heads above the Division Two trap door. It is a balancing act, and I don't envy anyone in charge having to make these decisions.

But this is possibly the lesson that the fans need. We cannot rely on the perceived generosity of Elton, and we cannot rely on any additional cash injections from directors or other fans who have helped out in the past. The hubbub of a year ago which greeted the Supporters Trust launch has died down, but we are still in the mire. Why have fans stopped appreciating that? Why are the collectors who are trying to raise money for the Trust roundly abused after home matches? Why do people continue to shout "get yer chequebook out, Lewington"?!

The chequebook will remain shut for some time yet, and we just have to ensure that as individuals and as fans, We do the best We can to ensure Our club gets through this expensive mess. The time for wailing and flapping of arms is long gone.