Liam Brady in a Watford shirt
By Tim Brennen
You know how very few men actually marry the first girl they go out with?
Well, as a little boy from Watford but living in Rome, I fell in love
with Juventus: well, they used to win a lot. Then we moved to Belgium and
the availability of BBC World Service and then Radio 2 allowed me to tie
the knot with Watford. I was soon drawing wallcharts of the season's trivia
in the Graham Taylor era (Mark I), allowing rapid access to information
about things like Ross Jenkins' exploits and the crowd away at Stoke in the
It was at about that time that I began writing to GT, to give him my
teenage advice from my particularly useful vantage point in Brussels (Hey
Birdseye, you're not the first to suffer from the
Brussels-knows-what's-best-for-the-'Orns syndrome!) . Anyway, he always
wrote back; amongst the exclusives he gave me were: Andy Dibble had not
signed for us because "some people do not know that the grass is not
necessarily greener on the other side of the fence". ("Grass isn't
necessarily greener"? He signed for L***n for gawd's sake). And yes, "Liam
Brady is a very good player and we are always on the lookout for special
players at Watford". At the time I thought I was well-connected...
The six years I lived in England coincided with the Golden Boys being up
with the big boys. Living off a grant I don't think I bought any clothes
and not much food, just beer and BR tickets to farflung away matches. But
then Bassett happened, and it was time to leave the country again: this
time to France. Let us not forget that Harrison was seriously bad news too:
his transfer dealings were abominable and the team he produced couldn't
play. In February 1990 I flew back to England at great expense to see us
away at Port Vale. We were diabolical and I wrote to Harrison asking what
had happened to the passing game he had promised us. He wrote back to say
he agreed with all my criticisms and promptly resigned: yes, not only did I
prompt GT to track Liam Brady, but I, personally, also got rid of Harrison.
Colin Lee was in and out too quickly to benefit from my (informative yet
probing) letters, but I lured Perryman into admitting that Bull and Mutch
could be a real handful (they had stuffed four past us in the Cup). I don't
think I wrote to Roeder: if I did, the answer I got back was so boring and
bland that I can't remember anything about it.
Anyway by the Roederian Age I had moved to Oslo, thereby becoming the most
northerly member of my family: in my immediate family, second most northerly
is Brighton, and Norway was thus deemed extreme. Indeed, in Norwegian, the
Hebrides are called Suderøya - the southern isles. But still, you could
wake up on a Saturday morning in Oslo and be at the Estcourt Arms for
midday. It wasn't that far away.
Then the contract ran out in Oslo and I got a free transfer to Tromsø
(signing-on fee two sealskins). And here we are 300 kilometres north of the
Arctic Circle (fifteen hours' drive: yes, I have tried). That's about
half-way to Oslo, which all adds up to a lot of miles between me and
Vicarage Road. Even so, taking the 07.30 plane from here would get you
there for 3pm, via Oslo and Heathrow. It's just the 400 quid ticket
Anyway, now, even though I am one of "the boys on the Internet", I am
grown-up and don't write to managers any more. But that's okay, because
Hornet exile is a lot less lonely in the global village, what with the
list, BSaD and other Web sites, IRC, not to mention Q-tel.
I sit up here whiling away the dark evenings watching my Grampa's video
collection of highlights from the Golden Years. I had to get them converted
from Betamax, which non-Hornets apparently find funny, but now they are
available for viewing in my lounge. (Message to Steve and Anda: They hadn't
been converted when you were here - that's why we watched Iceland vs.
So, I live a long way away, but still made it to Carlisle: where were you
at Carlisle, eh? And I'll be there at Blackpool in March too.
See you there!