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Ice hockey doesn't cut it
By Paul Green

The support for Watford F.C. spans the globe, as well as my little corner of the world in Bethlehem, Connecticut, USA. Bethlehem is situated about half way between New York City and Boston on the East Coast.

A few of us exiled Brits usually gather around our shortwave radios on a Saturday morning (remember, we are five hours behind), to tune into the World Service to listen to a second half commentary and get updates and final results from the English leagues. It's not the same as driving to the ground, parking down the same road, at the same lamp post, walking to the ground through the allotments, buying a programe, looking to see if your favourite players are playing, going to the same part of the ground you have always seen the game from, and meeting the same people every week at your little corner of the pitch and discussing the in's and out's of the last game or why the manager has picked this guy over someone else.

Nope, it's not the same but the memories always come flooding back every Saturday during the season and wishing you were with your mates at the Red Lion catching a quick pint before the game. You can even smell the beer if you try hard enough. Then it's off to the ground, with a sense of anticipation that for the next two hours you are going to be transformed into another world that people from outside of the British Isles, especially here in the States, just don't understand. I try to tell people that United States' culture does not revolve around the game of football (or 'Soccer' as they refer to it in the U.S.), as it does in England but more on Baseball and American Football and Basketball and Ice Hockey, which, for me, just doesn't cut it the same as leather meeting leather on a grassy field between twenty-two players every Saturday afternoon. When you are brought up on a diet of football from such an early age, it's no wonder it stays with you for the rest of your life no matter where you happen to be.

I was last at Vicarage Road in the summer of 1993 and couldn't believe the transformation that the ground improvements have done to the stadium but to me it's still the "Old Vic".

My first memories of the club go back to the 1957-58 season. I had just moved from Harlesden, NW10 to North Harrow (February ' 58), and my new best friend (Barry Manser - Abbotts Langley, Herts now), asked me if I would like to go with him and his Dad to a Watford game. I remember it was towards the end of the season and Watford played in blue and white and were called "The Blues". I don't remember who Watford were playing that day but from that moment I was hooked on Watford Football Club. I used to go and watch all first team and reserve home team games - that's how much I liked supporting the club. Of course, away games that were within a reasonable distance were seen as well.

I think that the best period for me was the era of Holton and Uphill, considered by some to be the best scoring duo that Watford has ever had. The season of 1959-60, when Watford gained promotion from Division Four (after only two seasons since the Division Three South league had been scrapped), saw Cliff Holton score 42 goals and Dennis Uphill 30 goals (as well as 6 apiece in Cup games). Cliff Holton's 48 goals still remains (as far as I know) a club record. Arguably the most consistent team Watford has ever put on the field, week after week was:

Jimmy Linton

Bobby Bell    Vince McNeice    Ken Nicholas

George Catleugh    Sammy Chung

Cliff Holton    Barry Hartle

Mickey Benning    Dennis Uphill    Freddie Bunce

Best goal scored at Vicarage Road: 1967-68 season against Stockport by Stuart "Scully" Scullion. He first beat five defenders, before being dispossessed by the keeper. The keeper threw the ball out to his full back as "Scully" raced to the wing and beat the defender to the ball. He then beat five more defenders before rounding the keeper and scoring. Even the keeper applauded the brilliant display by the young winger. A truly memorable moment.

Best come-back from behind: 1980 - Had to be the second leg of the league cup against Southampton (who at the time were second place in Division One). Watford (Division Two) trailed from the first leg 0-4 and ended up winning 7-1 in extra time, an incredible come-from-behind display; which in my mind was the best match I have ever seen at Vicarage Road.

I managed to get back to England in 1984 for Watford's appearance in the Cup Final and, although we lost to Everton, I was very proud to have been at the game and see the "Golden Boys" walk out onto the pitch that day, a day I had always thought would never happen in my lifetime.

So now it's crunch-time again for the Horns and it's coming down to the wire whether they make the playoffs or not. For me Watford F.C. and Vicarage Road will never lose the charm or memories it has whether I am living in Harrow or Bethlehem, Connecticut.