I wrote a letter to When Saturday Comes (@WSC_magazine) in response to a reader who spoke of the toxic history between Watford FC fans and those of Luton Town. It’s unlikely that they’ll print it as it’s far too specifically partisan, so here it is instead. (Note added 19/1/16: Wrong! It appears in WSC’s letters page in issue 360, Feb 2017)
Tim Turner in WSC 359 tells us that Watford‘s relationship with Luton Town was always toxic. He is so right. I was a solid Luton supporter until & after I actually moved to Watford of all places in the 80s. My divorce from Luton came during the time of fences and plastic pitches and I became that creature, “the man who always looks out for their results”, while getting my football fix at various non-league grounds around NW London.
My visits to Vicarage Road had been as an away supporter, and I was always dismayed at the supine, suburban atmosphere. Kenilworth Road always buzzed and jumped, and that was my template for what football supporting should be. We found “Elton John’s Taylor-Made Army” cringeworthy and, to be fair, we hated their success.
Living in Watford, I tried to get to like the team, but it was a dead loss. My last attempt was a game against Port Vale, and as Vale’s Martin Foyle powered a shot into the Watford net my half-standing, smothered “yes!” told me that I would never ever make the transfer – either that or I had been harbouring a secret Port Vale passion all this time.
But here’s the thing: years later, Luton have been through the wringer and I’ve only been distantly interested, but I’ve still never stopped hating Watford. There’s no logic to it and I’m sorry for it: these days I live on the South Coast and am a later-life scarf-carrying Hastings United ultra, unthreatened by Watford, yet here I am, a vaguely intelligent man, “well stricken in years”, still getting that little buzz when they lose. I may never grow up.
What I didn’t add as another reason for my dislike is the shafting Wealdstone FC got from Watford when they entered into an ill-advised groundshare at Vicarage Road. A good club with top-class supporters nearly went to the wall, and Watford got a new stand out of it.
No. Well, yes. No. These clubs and all the others up and down the land at a similar level (and Runcorn) are what football’s about. OK, the standard is often more Harry Kane in Euro 2016 than Harry Kane in most of his club matches (other players who were s**t in the Euros are available). These guys are still better than you (I) ever were (was), even if that stretches belief sometimes. Also, these are all clubs kept going by people who care, one of whom maybe repainted that barrier you’re leaning on (it’s still wet lol (made you look lol)), who sometimes wonder why the left-back is being given money when he does that stupid bloody thing ALL DAY. On a good day the 1000, 700, 400, 30 or whatever of you go home feeling as good as anyone leaving their bloody Theatre Of Dreams. Go to the game, have a pint or three, get worked-up about their dirty bastard number 4 , moan, go home and smash the furniture (Eight-Bloody-One!) . Next week go to an away game. Have fun. You’re winning, even if that useless mob aren’t..
From Dorking, which is in Surrey. Minted. I saw them in the Sussex County League a couple of seasons ago (at Eastbourne Town) throwing away a 3 goal lead. They haven’t done much of that since. Bastards.
Had a difficult season last year, following a difficult season the year before. We think they’ll have a difficult season, to compound the obvious difficulties of being from East Grinstead.
(I like their website; it has a nice unflashy (pun and no pun) layout with all the information you need easily found from the front page. It is amazing how many club sites can’t manage this small thing /rant).
A warm welcome to the players, directors and supporters of Godalming Town as they make their debut in The Ryman League.
They look grim.
According to this thing here (see map below), Godalming is the westernmost club in the division, apart from Guernsey. This may be the first & last time Godalming is ever described as an “outpost” of anything.
I’m dead certain they wish they could have gone into the Southern League so that they could all go to Devon every fortnight. See also: Whyteleafe.
Guernsey is an island whose people insist they are not French. Unlike noisy Charlie Hungerford neighbours Jersey, Guernsey decided to be a proper football club rather than playing Sark all the time in dumb “internationals”.
Seemingly nicely monied-up. Working on the principle that “if he ever played for Hastings he must be OK”. This is a theory that may be tested to destruction this season. Have they signed Richard Rose yet?
If there were any justice Whyteleafe would be moved to the Southern League so they had to go to Devon all the time. That’d Harsh their Smug.
We love you really. It’s just we’re going to build a wall around Whyteleafe, and THEY’RE GOING TO PAY FOR IT.
Club motto “Qui Curat?”
13/8/16 First Game -Corinthian Casuals away.
Predicted League Position: 38th
The Ryman League
Its proper name is the Isthmian League. It used to be an amateur league for clubs in and about London, but now it’s a semi-pro league in the South East, at a level equivalent to (or even better than) the old Southern League. Ryman have sponsored it for years now because Theo Paphitis actually likes his football, proving that some rampant capitalist bastards are only rampant capitalist bastards most of the time. (Disclosure: he bought me a pint once but never knew it). I remember when it was the Rothmans’ Isthmian League ‘cos I’m old.