"Stunned by a tranquiliser dart"
By Colin Wiggins
Roger Joslyn was an appalling sight. We hated him. Sweat-stained, teeth
bared, saliva foaming from his mouth. His caveman-style beard and flowing
locks made him instantly recognisable. He was a throwback to the days of
ancient Rome and would have thrived in the Colosseum. No-one, not even a
fully-armoured Russell Crowe, would have stood a chance. "That man's an
animal!" we used to shout, "GET HIM OFF!"
Then, he signed for Watford.
He was still an appalling sight, but now he was our appalling sight.
Suddenly, we loved him. He was signed by Mike Keen in November 1974, shortly
after a particularly savage midfield display against the Hornets for his
previous club Aldershot. Memories of him, with his boots caked in human
gore, were still fresh in our minds. He was delivered to Vicarage Road,
under sedation, in a heavily secured crate. If you remember the opening
scene of Jurassic Park, you will be able to picture the sight. Between
matches he had to be kept in a reinforced steel cage and a little known fact
of the time was that Watford Football Club had to employ a full-time keeper
for him. He was fed on raw meat, seasoned with a sprinkling of broken glass
and rusty nails. As an occasional treat, a Christian was thrown to him,
secretly supplied by the Rev.John Boyer, then Club Chaplain.
Joslyn's contribution to the early years of the Great Era was crucial. He
was tireless. Tackling back, ball-winning and saving desperate situations in
his own penalty area were all part of his game. Seconds after clearing his
own lines, he would be forcing his way through defenders in his opponents
box, to score with one of his trademark downward headers from the edge of
the six-yard box.
Whether he would have survived in today's climate is debateable but times
then were different. Dirty, no; reckless, yes. If ball-winning rather than
career-ending was adjudged to be the purpose, two-footed lunges and tackles
from behind were acceptable. Nobby Styles was still remembered with
affection, even if now we watch old footage of him and wonder how he got
away with it. Mistimed tackles were seen as such and tolerated, rather than
interpreted as attempted murder. Think, for example, of Uriah Rennie and
Xavier Gravelaine (Watford v. Sunderland 1999/2000) and we have to conclude that
now, Joslyn's type of game has been consigned to the past.
But in his day, Roger Joslyn was a supremely effective lower division
player, who left the club shortly after helping them arrive in Division Two
(today's Division One). He was a vital component in the side that won two
successive promotions and one of several heroes bequeathed to Graham Taylor
by Mike Keen, a manager whose posthumous contribution to GT's miraculous
achievements should be recorded somewhere on this site. We loved Joslyn for
his never-say-die spirit, which is still alive at the club of course, in the
form of Tommy Mooney.
But Tommy Mooney does not need to be stunned by a tranquiliser dart at the
end of each match, aimed by a trained marksman seconded from Whipsnade Zoo,
in order to be safely manhandled back into his cage, to await both the next
game...and the almost inevitable win bonus of one of the Rev John Boyer's