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Players: Tributes:
Roger Joslyn
"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 Christians.