1. Caring and sharing.
For a little while now, Watford fans have felt that their club was slowly returning to the community centric, caring, family focussed roots that served it so well during the rise to prominence in the 1980’s. Now it’s not just Hornets fans that know Watford is a special club again. Thanks to a unique and special gesture, the footballing world know it too.
On Saturday 8 January, Watford entertain Hartlepool in the FA Cup at Vicarage Road and in a fabulous show of generosity, the club have agreed to donate their profits from ticket sales on the day to Marie Curie – the chosen charity of the Football League for 2011.
With ticket prices reduced to £10 for the fixture, seats are reported to be selling fast, with the club optimistic that they will be able to make a sizable donation to the cancer charity. As a fan, this makes me immeasurably proud. Once again, my club is seeking to make a difference and in doing so is itself being different – this is the first time the proceeds from a competitive fixture in England have been donated to charity.
In addition to the gate receipts, Watford’s players have agreed that if they slip up against Hartlepool, to waive their fee. In an age where players are willing to engineer scenarios and stories solely designed to boost their already astronomic earnings, this show of support from the Hornets team is a welcome and refreshing addition to the story.
It is perhaps cause for regret that with all the money washing around the English game, no club has made a similar effort (Aston Villa’s reverse sponsorship deal with Acorns perhaps the exception) and the fact that Watford’s finances remain precarious makes the scheme all the more admirable.
If you can’t support the fundraising effort by attending the game, you can donate online by visiting http://www.justgiving.com/watfordfootballclub
Well done all at Watford, for once again recognising that it isn’t just what a club does on the pitch that is important.
2. Enjoying it while it lasts…
In my experience, there are two kinds of football fan. The first type is epitomised by my partner in podcast crime, Jon. He is the football fan who can find the positives in a game that saw your team beaten 0-4 at home, your star striker breaking his leg and your captain wrongly sent off. He is unrelentingly, unswervingly and admirably optimistic.
I on the other hand represent the other side of the coin, the second type. I’m the supporter who at 3-0 up with 2 minutes to go, will still be thinking ‘we really need a fourth here…’ I don’t mind admitting it, when it comes to football, I’m a dark, tortured and pessimistic soul.
That is until recently, and at present even I, the Rookery’s personal raincloud, have to admit that things are looking pretty good at Vicarage Road. We’ve won five games in a row including the clinical dismantling of the divisions top two sides, we are the top scorers in the Country, Danny Graham is the leading scorer in the Championship and we’ve got an awesome away shirt again. It would take an effort of Victor Meldrew-esque proportions not to be at least reasonably content with where Watford are right now.
One of the common themes we have discussed on the podcast has been the youth set up at Vicarage Road and due to the financial climate, the club’s current reliance on it. Despite being heavily tipped for relegation by those supposedly in the know, those of us with Watford in our hearts always had a sneaking suspicion that actually, the kids may be alright.
Listening back to those early season podcasts there was a definite sense of hope and confidence…even from me.
Apart from the obvious fun to be had watching Watford at the moment, it is also rewarding to note that the wider footballing community is having to sit up and take Watford seriously. Those who wrote the Hornets off as broke and hopeless are having to quickly reassess and review their opinion. With media coverage of Watford historically woeful, nothing gives me greater pleasure than lazy pundits having to backtrack and give us credit where it is undoubtedly due.
Of course the season hasn’t been without it’s hitches and with Jordon Mutch and Andrew Taylor back at their parent clubs and the treatment room looking alarmingly busy, there may be tricky times ahead. Staying in the division remains the only realistic target, but for now it’s nice to know that the confidence we had in our club wasn’t misplaced. It’s nice to know that our faith and support is being repaid. It’s nice to know that the system at Watford works and it’s nice to know that money isn’t everything.
Being a football fan has far more downs than ups, so whilst Watford’s stock is high I’m taking a leaf out of Jon’s book and am just going to sit back and enjoy it. That is of course until Malky Mackay leaves for Burnley and we lose at home to Hartlepool!
3. Australian humiliation.
Not strictly related to Watford this one, but it won’t have escaped many peoples attention that England have won the Ashes on Australian soil for the first time in almost a quarter of a century. In doing so they handed out one of the biggest spankings the cricket world has seen and the fact that Watford FC supporting fast bowler Steve Finn played such an integral part in the series gives me just cause to mention it here. Another Hornet that we can all be proud of! Well done Finny and well done England!