On my way to the game yesterday, I found myself walking along Liverpool Road and up Occupation Road behind a man and his young son. From the questions the boy was asking, it was clear that this was his very first football match. For instance, he asked if there would be commentary, like on the telly, and his dad had to explain that no, there wouldn’t, but they would announce the names of goalscorers and substitutes.
Mind you, dad was clearly far from an expert himself: when his son asked what time the match kicked off, he answered with a rather hesitant “Three o’clock – at least, I think so.” Apparently he’d only been to two football matches before: a Bristol derby when he was a student in that city, and a Liverpool v Everton FA Cup final at Wembley which ended in a draw, which must therefore have been the 1989 final.
The main question going through my head at this stage was: why now? Why break an 18-year gap between matches with Watford v Scunthorpe? Dad wasn’t dressed smartly enough for one of the corporate hospitality areas, so they were presumably attending as paying punters. And it seemed unlikely they were armchair Hornets who’d finally decided to see a match in person, especially as dad reeled off a list of all the replica shirts the boy owned, which included those of Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea.
In contrast, after the match, the main question that occurred to me was: would either of them ever return to Vicarage Road? Why would anyone want to sit through another 90 minutes of the tentative, unimaginative football currently served up by Aidy’s team, unless (like me) they had years of emotional investment in the club?
Then again, my first game at Vicarage Road was in 1970, a season when we only won six games and scored 18 goals at home. From there it got steadily worse, with two relegations in the next four seasons - but somehow it didn’t matter to me, and I was still there when GT arrived to make everything better.
So maybe that innocent little six-year-old won’t have been put off by the shower of shite he witnessed yesterday. As for me, I just want the season to be over now.