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BLIND, STUPID AND DESPERATE
 
Editorials:
Saints and sinners?
By Peter Wilson
 
Funny game, football. You only ever have one true love - in my case, the beloved Hornets - whilst most fans have a soft spot for one or two other clubs. It isn't the same thing as for your real love, but it still counts in a slightly flirtatious way. For instance, the non-league team down the road...it preys on your mind about going to see a game...if I go will I be unfaithful to my one and only? Last night I went and watched St Albans City, down at Clarence Park and had a very enjoyable evening.

City fans were just glad to see some football, after being deprived by a Ryman League ruling due to their financial situation. Whilst the players were a bit rusty, being without competitive football for a couple of months, the 1-1 draw with Hendon was thoroughly enjoyed by the 530 fans present. The game itself might not have been of "Premier League" standard, but was certainly 7 entrance money well spent.

What a contrast, a club on the point of extinction and a club that has financially never had it so good. Watford fans should realise that comparatively we are in a different league; with proposed corporate East Stand tickets costing upwards of 5,000, St Albans were selling season tickets for 200, which includes an additional 80 contribution to the club coffers.

Watford fans are currently moaning about this and that, (do you really need me to elucidate on what?) whilst City fans are very concerned that the club has a secure future. A very humbling experience, if you are a genuine football fan.

Without clubs like St Albans, Hayes, Wealdstone, players like Ian Wright, Les Ferdinand, Stuart Pearce wouldn't have had a later opportunity to get into the professional game. Baldock Town, from whom the Horns signed Kevin Phillips, sadly went to the wall earlier this season. Other clubs are similarly vulnerable.

Compare and contrast, Watford are spending 8 million on a new stand, St Albans needs just 100,000 to survive. The weekly wage bill is probably 3,000 for the City squad, whilst some of Watford's bigger earners probably take home significant multiples of that figure.

Watford are fortunate that the financial future looks pretty good - and long may it continue. It is right that the club moves forward and builds a team and facilities suitable for top-level football. We as fans have to be patient, as Luca builds the team and the club builds the ground, we all know it isn't all going to happen overnight without one or two brick-bats along the way. Meanwhile, City's horizons are much more limited.

While Watford will always come first, if you are ever stuck for a game, give a thought to getting down to Clarence Park to catch City. You'll have a good afternoon or evening out whilst also making a small contribution to their survival.

(13/02/02)