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The shirt, the Hornet and the wardrobe
By Guy Judge

Have I ever told you about Joe, the teenage Pompey based Hornet? Unlike some of the other South Coast Horns, Joe isn't someone who grew up in the Watford area and then moved down here. He was born here, into a family of Pompey supporters.

At a young age his Mum took him to the Pompey shop to buy him his first footy shirt. Rather stunned at the prices, she noticed a box of "seconds" in the corner. For some reason, which I still don't understand, the box included a lovely yellow WATFORD shirt. "This is the one I want" said Joe, showing wisdom beyond his years. And so it was that Joe became a Watford supporter. He wore the shirt everywhere and proclaimed himself a Hornet.

It was some years before Joe persuaded his Dad to take him to Vicarage Road. Before then he had to make do with brief glimpses from the rare TV moments for the Horns, snippets of information from the papers and magazines. But the Horns were his team no matter how much his Pompey supporting friends would taunt him. And of course every year he needed a new yellow shirt. Not because he was getting bigger, but because the design and the sponsors changed - and you can't be seen wearing last year's shirt! Not such a cheap shirt for his Mum in the long run. And his poor Dad - had to drive him up the A3 to see the Horns when he could have been watching Pompey.

Come this summer. The Hornets are Champions and Joe is proudly wearing his brand new CTX shirt on holiday in Spain. His happy parents thought they had escaped at least for a couple of weeks. Wrong. The nearby resort has a Sports Centre - "Let's pop down for a game of tennis". But who do you think is the manager of the Sports Centre?

"Hi there. Hope you are having a great holiday. Did you get to many games this season? Great to be Champions, eh?" "Oh, by the way, you may be too young to know who I am. I'm Ross Jenkins". Wow!!

So of course Joe got Ross to sign the shirt ("Dad. We'll have to buy another one for me to wear. I want to keep this in perfect condition").

Last Monday I got this desperate phone call from Joe's Dad. He wants to know if I have any old Watford videos showing big Ross in his playing days. Of course I do. A perfect excuse to open up my Watford wardrobe. Opening the door takes you into another world. Watford memorabilia back to the Holton era (yes, I'm an "Old Fart"). Programmes, Watford Observer cuttings, WO promotion, Championship and FA Cup "specials", books by Trefor Jones and Oli Phillips, big game ticket stubs, silly free hats handed out at the game, official club videos and unofficial "Match of the Day" and "Big Match" recordings. Old vintage scarves and shirts. And now (be warned) not only a copy of the BSaD Luddite Edition, but also hard copy printouts of especially interesting BSaD reports and Mail List contributions. On the door is a tile bought from the Watford Shop saying "Watford Supporters Only". My wife says "Don't worry. Do you think I have the slightest interest in looking in there?" Oh dear!

So out they come all the old videos. Of course they are not properly labelled so I have to fast forward through quite a number before I find one with Ross in it. FA Cup in GT's first era. Watford (of the old Second Division) against Man Utd (Gary Bailey, Bryan Robson, Martin Buchan, Arthur Albiston and all the others) at a packed Vic. For us, up front with big Ross is Luther, scurrying and running his socks off. Nigel Callaghan out there on the right with John Barnes and Jan Lohman helping out Les Taylor in the middle of the park. Kenny Jackett was injured for this one. At the back Steve Terry, Ian Bolton, Keith Pritchett and captain Pat Rice. And in goal - Steve Sherwood. Anyone who didn't rate Steve Sherwood, or whose memory has gone a bit - you should watch this one. He was magnificent. And there we are - just before halftime - Jan Lohman scores. Yes !!! Scrappy goal, but who cares?

Second half. Les Taylor hits the bar - or was it in? Video's a bit fuzzy after all these years. At the time I was certain it was in, but now I'm not so sure. Who cares. The Hornets hold out for a famous victory. It wasn't one of Ross's very best games but I think Joe is going to like it.

Now look here. I really must tidy up this wardrobe. Stuff is just wedged into cardboard boxes, not properly indexed or organised. Don't know what's in there. Get round to it oneday. But if I, like, forget - or for some reason pop mi' clogs mid season - maybe Ig or someone who wants the stuff can turn up and claim the wardrobe and its contents. Make sure you are wearing the shirt though, as proof of identity. "Yellows, yellows!"