Hat korso es két palinka
By Mark Davies
Whilst in Budapest, BSaD has been the site I've visited most frequently, keeping me in touch with feelings about WFC. The writing is often witty and incisive, so apologies for the plunge in standards that follows....
During the summer, a feeling that things might be different compared to previous years came over me and for the first time in ten years abroad, I subscribed to the Watford site, to listen to and see the season's action. To be able to experience the action live. From afar I have been able to savour and feel a part of the upward surge that the Hornets have experienced in such a short time. But for the playoff final I needed to watch and be in company as in 1999.
Back then, it was a fraught day. Leaving work early and heading for the Irish pub only to find the only Sky source was showing New Zealand in some cricket match or other. A further three pubs had similar audiences. One wonders where they all came from; eventually, sweat dripping and temper frayed, the last establishment with Sky was showing the match and the score still 0-0. The rest is history, albeit a little hazy afterwards.
This time, no risk. A dry run the day before, to confirm seat and channel.
The day was long. Online articles read several times, shuffling around doing jobs. Take Kristof to the children's dance house. Make the dinner in advance. Anything to keep my mind off the game. 3pm CET arrived and I needed to go. Nerve settling Pilsners easily downed. Stomach now feeling fine. For thirty minutes, I was alone. In flowed the crowd, all twelve of them. One neutral, one supporter of Leeds from Leeds. The rest were all for Leeds but from a number of nations including Hungary.
All agreed that the match was important. The winner gets to be on Hungarian TV about twenty times a year. Oh, and there is the financial stability offered.
On the TV the Watford warm up seemed as fluid as mine, soaking in the atmosphere and getting relaxed and ready. As the teams lined up in the tunnel and came out, I felt a surge of confidence. We looked relaxed and up for it, Leeds tense and edgy. My comments did not go down too well but were agreed with.
The match seemed to last forever. Confidence grew as the little incidents went our way unlike at the FA cup final so long ago. Then the goal, a lone shout and whoop in a Budapest bar. Time slowed down even more as we led 1-0, not unlike how the FA Cup Quarter-Final replay against Liverpool felt, when Rush robbed us on their way to the double. We were looking good. Always talking to each other, a team with direction and control. We get away with some luck in the penalty area as Foster takes on two of their forwards.
Then you know it's your day. A second goal that shows that somewhere there's somebody looking down on us, a fact not lost on the true Leeds follower sitting next to me.
So the game plays out. The penalty sealing it. Emotions run high. Handshakes all round. No one disputes that Watford were the better team – some say only team – that turned up on the day. Beer is swapped for Palinka then a happy march home to the Tikka Masala and Rogan Josh prepared earlier in the day.
So it's time to say a big thanks to Graham Simpson for his brave decision and to Aidy Boothroyd for delivering what he had promised. I remember Elton's Yellow Brick road poster and promise of great things for the future. For the second time, Watford supporters have been delivered what many never dared to hope for.