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Players: Tributes:
Robert Page
"The only team he wanted to play for"
By Andy Stocks

Just before the Port Vale away game in the 98/99 season, there was a Sponsors Evening. We had just started that dramatic charge for the play-offs and I was sharing a table with Robert Page.

Hope and wonder filled our thoughts, these were heady times. We had no right to consider making the play-offs, for heaven's sake, we had just come up from Division Two the previous season.

Pagey was great value. He chatted tirelessly with us, answering the same questions many times over - questions about Watford, Wales and playing against Brazil. He seemed to enjoy it, he had an enthusiasm for it, winning does that to you. Then I managed to collar him without others listening, and asked him what he honestly thought...I mean, "do we really have a chance of the play-offs? How do the other guys feel about it?" Without a moment's hesitation, he looked me square in the eyes and said "Oh yes, we're going to make them and we're going to win. Next season we'll all be Premiership footballers".

He said that with such conviction that I knew he truly believed that he believed what he was saying. He wasn't just stringing me a line, he really felt it, we were going up. It was tremendous to hear - indeed, as a fan that's exactly what you want to hear. It was obvious how much it meant to Robert, he was our captain and it meant the world to him. He'd signed as a lad, came through the ranks and formed a formidable partnership with Steve Palmer at the back. Watford was his club, the only team he wanted to play for and he was loving it. Like the other lads in the squad, he was riding high on the tidal wave of success.

I told him a few anecdotes about students at my college trying to distract me by continuously asking me about Watford and our chances, when previously only derision had been heard from them. He loved it, and a few days later I heard him passing on these anecdotes to others at another club function. He cared passionately about Watford FC, something that should never be doubted.

His Watford career started slowly, Glenn Roeder never really gave him a consistent run in the team, but following his departure and the return of GT, Page became a fixture in the line-up.

The height of his Watford career must have been that day in May at Wembley. His performance was composed and commanding. How he could calmly see the ball past his own post when 38,000 Watford fans there having palpitations, I will never know. How proud he was to collect the play-off trophy and how he deserved it.

He was "player of the season" in our Premiership season, despite being in the centre of the division's leakiest defence. The following season saw a downturn in form and in fortunes for our captain. How much of this was due to family tragedy will never be known, but as Watford's fortunes dipped, so did Pagey's. At times, it was painful to watch. Some people got on his back and criticized him endlessly. They forgot about the many years of solid service he had given us, they forgot about his passion for the club, they forgot about how mad he went on the very rare occasions that he scored (remember Hillsborough?).

Taylor left, Vialli joined and Page found himself dumped on the list without a word of explanation from the incoming manager. It was harsh in the extreme. He received little sympathy from some Watford fans with short memories, which is very sad. His passion and commitment to Watford could never be doubted, he was a leader on and off the pitch. Page was always one of the last players to leave the pitch after applauding the fans after every game, he never forgot us.

Wherever his career takes him, I wish him well and thank him for the memories. After all, he was our captain during one of the most successful periods in Watford's history. Cheers, mate.