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Division 1 Playoff Final, 31/5/99
Watford 2(1)
Team: Chamberlain, Bazeley, Kennedy, Page, Palmer, Robinson, Ngonge, Hyde, Mooney, Johnson, Wright
Subs: Hazan (for Wright), Day, Smart (for Ngonge)
Scorers: Wright (38), Smart (89)
Bolton Wanderers 0(0)
Nice and 'isi
Report by Andy Barnard

Well, luckily my view of the match itself was from Wembley not Tbilisi, but I'm writing this safely back in Georgia a week after The Great Day.

The entire play-offs weekend 1999 is now all pkzipped into my memory as one happy blur. When I use the word happy I mean at the high end of the happy scale, way above Cloud Nine and about as happy as you can get without possibly regretting it later in life. Good omens included a nice view of the Vic as we flew in on Saturday, the successful delivery of my ticket by Pete Clark who drove down specially to Balham from Hemel, finding my court-jester Watford-colours hat despite (or perhaps thanks to) assorted friends and relatives having rearranged my room in my absence, and the other play-offs being won by teams wearing yellow.

Even in South London the Northern Line train had more than its usual share of Wattie colours, and I met a couple of teachers (Nicki and Dennis) from Clapham. At Wembley we hit the Crock Of Gold (a pub, not Tony Daley), though unfortunately we got separated when it was my round. Then I met up with mailees outside the ground and did the photoshoot thing - I'm the one on the pics with the said hat, three scarves (one on neck, one on each wrist), and a commemorative flag. Later I gave the flag to the above-mentioned Nicki and Dennis when we saw each other inside the ground, not so much as an apology for not getting the round but more because Nicki waved it so much better than me.

I found myself sitting between a whinging teenager and a mum. The mum's kids were in colours but she wasn't and was wearing a white shirt, so I offloaded one of my scarfs onto her. Contrary to the whinges from my left, it quickly became apparent that we could in fact afford to give the ball away in midfield as Alec was on tip-top form and Bolton's forwards definitely weren't. We grew in confidence, Bolton couldn't cope with Nicky Wright's surging runs down the wing, and I think with better finishing we'd have scored at least one goal from his through balls. As it was, his overhead kick was, of course, marvelous and I "knew" the ball would go in from the moment he went for it. From then on the mood became ever more jubilant, already approaching Cloud Nine by half-time.

To my mind, the first streaker at the end of half-time deserves a medal for showing just the right sort of defiance at a time when Bolton might have hoped to assert some of their supposed pedigree. She also must have helped inspire the second streaker, who had a similar impact just when the game might have turned Bolton's way. (Has any other set of fans ever supplied two streakers at Wembley?) Somehow there seemed no way back for Bolton after that. Eventually I even managed to dissuade the whinger from moaning on about us needing a second goal, and when it finally arrived he was (possibly for the first time in his life) getting behind the team.

On another day Bolton might have scored early on and our finishing could have been (even) poorer - though we'd still have fought to the death. On yet another day, we might well have scored four or five from the chances we had. But anyway, the Golden Boys and GT were well worth the win - as were the fans. And - borrowing ig's analogy - Watford have not only gatecrashed the big boys' playoff party, we have not only eaten all the trifle and drunk all the booze. (And smoked all the spliffs, emptied the cocktail cabinet and wine cellar and walked off with all the pretty girls and/or boys depending on inclination.) We've also been round with a fleet of red-and-yellow removal vans and carted off everything of any material or aesthetic value.

So we are now Premiership. How scary is that?