Apart from football, my other great sporting love is cricket, sadly not recognised as a sport here in Belgium. But, as I was pondering how to start this collection of words, I recalled seeing an article in a cricket magazine about "One Test Wonders" and it prompted me into thinking about "One Game Watford Wonders".
You see, I can claim a unique "One Game Wonder" double. There may be more, but the two that come to mind are Doug Allder and Bobby Svarc.
Doug Allder stands out. I remember vividly that sunlit afternoon at the de luxe stadium of Spotland when the GREAT MAN entered the arena at about 2.55 and shimmied around in the warm up, heading imaginary balls, sprinting after imaginary passes. Somehow the ball seemed to have made its mind up to ignore him. Had he massaged the wrong hair cream into those jet black locks or used the wrong foot powder?
What I was soon to find out was this was to be the pattern for the next forty-five minutes. You couldn't say he had one of those in and out games, more an out and out game. He proceeded to hug the touchline for the entire half.
May I digress for a moment? Hug the touchline is one of those great pieces of "football speak". Why do they hug the touchline and not the goal line or the halfway line. It puzzles me just as much as it's only the left foot that is "educated" and most deflections are "wicked".) You see, I have to explain these things as one of the hats I wear is that of an English teacher and one of my contracts this year is to teach certain footballers of AA Gent English so that they can understand and communicate with their Norwegian coach. But that's a story for another occasion. Back to Doug.
As the half wore on I began to think that GT had this master plan of using him as a decoy so that the remaining players could go on the rampage. He struck a forlorn figure as he meandered up and down, yes you've guessed it, THE TOUCHLINE not only being ignored by the ball but by all of the Watford AND Rochdale players.
The first half came to an end after forty-five or maybe more minutes - in 1977, a strange looking guy holding up illegible numbers was twenty years away - and OUR HERO headed into the players tunnel never to be seen in that pristine yellow shirt ever again.
I was thumbing through my copy of Trefor Jones excellent book when Doug Allder's name jumped ot at me and I thought, I saw him, I WAS THERE. He must have had something because as the book states he had a League career of 332 games.
Those of us lucky enough to be in the valleys of Lancashire that day saw a minute snippet of his life.
Doug,thanks for the memory. It was a privilege to be there!