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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)
The scoreboard said...
Report by Pete Bradshaw

The scoreboard said 80. 80 minutes. Bolton 0 Watford 1 - 80 minutes. 10 minutes to go. Only 10 more minutes and we were in the Premiership.

I remembered back to 1982 when we beat Wrexham to enter the top flight. I didn't go as I was living in Derbyshire at the time (but I did go to Derby on the last day of the season with all the fans wearing anti-macassars from the coaches to fend off the heat). Oli Phillips wrote in the Watford Observer that he'd expected to see a giant mushroom cloud emerge over Harrow - surely Watford wouldn't be allowed in with the cream of English football??? (At the time the cream included Brighton, Notts County and welsh Swansea).

Now it was even more incredible - Watford in the Premiership? Surely not! Not after the game I witnessed against Bury. At least Matthew, my son, had brought his glasses to Wembley. For the Bury game we had to sit in the Main Stand and endure no atmosphere and over-zealous officials telling six year old girls to sit in their seats (yeah, over here if you're hard enough). No worries on the atmosphere at this game though! Just worries about enduring the last few minutes.

81 minutes. How I hate being 1-0 up with 9 minutes to go.

It had been a brilliantly strange last few weeks. Getting to the ground early for the Grimsby game only to find that the Vicarage Road end was already full. Coming up from Dorset and queueing from 6 am for Birmingham tickets (could only get two). Should have been back in Blandford at 11 am - slightly optimistic that (arrived at 12.15). Coming back for Wembley tickets, parking in the allotments and not being able to find my credit card, rushing to my parents in Carpenders Park and then finding the wallet under the passenger seat.

Most of the fortnight had been spent in a family vigil at the bedside of my wife's grandmother in Birmingham - she died on the Wednesday prior to the final - everyone else was either a Birmingham supporter or were anti-Wolves (every time I drove up the M40 I stopped to take the scarf and inflatable hornet out of the window before I parked up - kept the ribbons on though!).

82 minutes. I had stopped shouting - I was numb with anticipation. The journey to Wembley from Carpenders Park featured a football special on the local railway - wow! The last football special I'd been on with Watford was to Stoke for the League Cup quarter finals. We felt like a small club then - somehow it's different now. My wife had been worried about violence (she was a Birmingham supporter 20 years ago). It was great getting off at Wembley Central and walking to the ground with all of the Bolton fans.

83 minutes. We'd arrived directly outside turnstile K and so went straight in. I hadn't read my e-mails so missed the WML banner and get together outside the twin towers. Heartless dad - my son had never been before and so he'll never see the towers for real before the redevelopment of the ground.

84 minutes. The first half had flown by. So much better than 1984. Watford were playing well and scored that fantastic opener. How could we really see it as well as we all remember it? I knew it was Nick Wright but so many had said 'Who scored?' Of course, now we will all say that we remember it vividly for we've seen it on the telly!

I was almost unable to think straight as the clock clicked down 85, 86, 87, 88 Hyde to Kennedy to Smart - GOALLLLLL!!! I imagined the picture in next week's Observer 'The scoreboard says it all - Bolton 0 Watford 2'.

Surely now, it's all over - Manchester Utd had scored two goals in the last minutes, so had Manchester City and Bolton - nah! that's just 'Greater' Manchester.

I still couldn't watch people around asked me how long left I counted them through injury time 4, 3, 2, 1, yesssssss!!

Is that really a Watford captain going up to the royal box?

Yep! He is going up, say we are going up...