Some kid called Barnes
Report by Graham Walker
Living in Yorkshire, I usually only make a few Watford or London-based
games in a season. However, this is handy - I arrive back from
Amsterdam (shouldn't have stayed so long but just couldn't get it together
to leave, if you know what I mean) and, whoopee, the boys are at Chelsea.
Chelsea! Oh well, get my first defeat of the season in early, I guess.
This is Watford's third season in Division Two - two years of, let's face it,
struggle. Bottom half of the table are we, just like it always was in
our previous brief residence in the giddy heights of Division Two. As for
Chelsea, a big club, sleeping giant. You do not go to Stamford Bridge
expecting anything other than a good hiding on the pitch and, unless you
are quick or well-disguised, a bloody good hiding from the ferocious thugs
on the terraces.
Meet up with some familiar faces on the open terrace and it's a lovely
warm, sunny afternoon. Kick-off and a few perplexed frowns around me.
Strange line-up here. Wilf Rostron, our under-achieving midfield-ace-cum-winger is
playing at full-back. Ross Jenkins is back in favour. What's more, there is
some geezer I've never even heard of playing up front on the wing. I ask who
it is and am told that it is some young kid they found playing for Sudbury
or some such place, came on as sub in the previous game and looked pretty good. Name of
The rest of the afternoon goes according to a script written in heaven.
Or was I still stoned? My recollection is very impressionistic, a
lot of the detail escapes me...remember, I had only just got back from
Amsterdam ! But, not only did we win but it is rare to see an away team so
totally outplay, outthink and outclass a home side, especially one with
Chelsea's credentials. And that away team is us! Little Wilf plays at
full-back like he is born to it. He defends well and overlaps like a
demon. Even scores a goal, something he managed to do only rarely from
midfield. Armstrong and Cally get the others. This Barnes bloke is giving
a very passable imitation of Pele. In the wide-open spaces of Stamford
Bridge, he dances around every tackle and is so good they can't even catch
him to whack him. Crosses coming in from all over the place. Never seen
anything like it. WHO is he? WHERE did they find him? HOW old?
We score three, could have made it six and we leave the Bridge with happy
smiles but too gobsmacked to celebrate. Even the local Nazis (laughingly
labelled a "small minority" by the media) are too stunned to chase us or
create any aggro.
Looking back, a watershed afternoon. One that forever ended our
collective inferiority complex in Division Two and from then on, it was
simply up, up, up. Rostron became, forever, our inspirational left back.
And that Barnes bloke turned out to be quite good too.