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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)
Winning at Wembley is better than losing on IRC
Report by Tim Brennen

Two years ago, we weren't even on Norwegian teletext any more and now we're back in the Panini sticker album - what a turnaround! Less than two years ago our 2-0 win at Carlisle was greeted with jubilation and the consensus that not many would win there. Now we are in the Premier League. In March we got thumped at Sheffield United and on the journey home the little football Trond and I talked was Vålerenga's chances of recovering a three-goal deficit against Chelsea, so ludicrously remote did Watford's chances of reaching the playoffs seem then. I mean, they would have to win practically all their remaining matches...

Well, they started to do just that and so a lot of time was spent following the 'Orns in ex-pat fashion: teletext, IRC or RA, each worse than the other, each cruel in its own knife-twisting way. And each MUCH worse than being there. Even for a 3-0 defeat, believe me, it's much better to be there and to see why it went wrong, rather than have your Saturday afternoon ruined by

NickG> Goal :(

flashing up on your screen intermittently. Anyway, the winning streak continued and my wife kept on saying, "They'll never get to the playoffs".

Then we did, and notice the "they" became "we" again. And 'er indoors said "They'll never beat Birmingham". But we did, at home. And before the away leg she said "They'll never get through, and if it goes to penalties they'll DEFINITELY lose". So, after Chamberlain saved from Holland at about midnight on a Thursday in May and we were at Wembley, I decided that I had to get to Wembley, if only to avoid the torture of IRC. And at the airport as I left for the match I was thinking, go on, say it, COME ONNNNN, and she said "You know they're not going to make it, don't you?". The pessimist's lucky charm!! It's not her fault: ever since I met her Watford's form has ranged from the spectactularly inept to the imoralee rubbish. And since Norway knocked England out of the World Cup she has had little faith in GT too.

So, Wembley it was, with Uncle Steve, who I stood with at Wembley last time too. My main impression of the day: on the tube, outside the stadium, inside the stadium, on the pitch, it was almost all Watford. This was our day, a day where every sentence began «I can't believe….»…we're here or we're winning or Bolton are so quiet or we're up or I've drunk so much beer or there's so much glass on Watford High Street.

GT, as we know, smiles on us all, but I can't help thinking he's smiling that extra little bit on me, because after 10 years abroad, I'm in England for a year beginning in August. Of course, we all know that "They'll never stay up", but I'm hanging around just in case....