By the time you read this you will probably telling us what a marvellous atmosphere there was at the Vicarage on Sunday (v. Leicester) and either feeling elation or heartbreak. It does however seem increasingly likely that many of you will be feeling anger and frustration. A large percentage of Watford fans hail from or are based outside the area and travel some distance to see the Hornets play and many have either work commitments, travel problems (i.e. too far to come midweek after work, etc.), or study commitments (and health problems to boot to make those commitments worse) as I have in my final year of this degree. That hasnít stopped me going to 18 home games and 13 away games this season but it means I, like many others, donít have a season ticket although we are only a stoneís throw away from benefitting from it.
31 games in a season is a lot more than most people in the ground on Saturday will have been to. Nonetheless, expecting people to be able to pick up a copy of the Evening Standard in Northampton, Milton Keynes, etc. to find out that it is all-ticket is ridiculous. I picked one up in East London at 4.00 unaware that I had a Ďcity pricesí version rather than the Ďlate prices extraí version supposedly with the details in. Not everyone has teletext either and there was nothing in the national papers on Tuesday morning. Some of us were lucky in that their mates rang and told them the night before the last day tickets were available before being sold out with the advantage of owning a credit card. Others wonít have been so lucky. No warnings were given over the tannoy v Grimsby or v Norwich and there was nothing in the Watford Observer.
If the police made the decision to say it must be all ticket on Monday, then one asks oneself who is to blame. We can say that the local police were short-sighted in not predicting this would be necessary but they have more pressing commitments than football. One can say that the club should have given two days for the word to get around and started selling on Wednesday. A fair point in many respects. Having realised the problem they could have stopped selling tickets 200 short of capacity and made an announcement that those who have attended the last 5 home and away games and can show proof of that may enter the ground on the day. Maybe the number of loyal fans who wonít have a ticket may be small. Maybe they will waive the all-ticket ruling on the day. However if there arenít a fair number of angry supporters who knew nothing of it until the day of the game, I shall be very surprised.
Even if everything runs smoothly this is a problem that must have cropped up at club after club, season after season where sides who are involved in promotion/relegation/championships at the end of season dictate last minute all-ticket status for games. So are the police to blame or are the club to blame. Well, I think you have got to look further than that.
The Endsleigh League committee and their predecessors should have recognised this as a problem and made the decision to make the last home game for every club an all-ticket game until stated otherwise. Loyal fans can then be prepared long in advance. The Endsleigh League therefore are the biggest culprits here and must be prepared to accept their errors and pay the price.
The first thing that should happen in a circumstance such as this is that first class letters be sent to all supporters on the mailing list with the Endsleigh League footing the bill. So wake up to yourselves Endsleigh League committee! Accept you are in the wrong and donít let this problem happen ever in the future regardless of what happens at Watford on Saturday. We will have a large numbers of people in the ground on Saturday who havenít watched a Watford match in 10 years. If any are left outside who have been there throughout our attempted escape act then it is you who are to blame!