There are some weeks you just want to get to the end of. On Monday my employer announced a programme of redundancies and financial cutbacks designed to steer the company through the choppy waters of the next year or so. My job is safe for the time being, but the atmosphere around the office has been a bit tense all week, as you can imagine. Meanwhile, a family member went into hospital for an operation on Wednesday, and that’s been the cause of plenty more stress, for reasons I won’t go into here.
So I really needed a trip to Vicarage Road yesterday – especially as a combination of postponements, family commitments and holidays meant I hadn’t seen a game for a month. The last game I saw was the FA Cup tie against Palace, but a lot has changed in the interim. The defence looks more solid with Williamson at its heart, Cowie was impressive on the left wing... but you know all that. The really big news is that we have a song! I’m sure ‘Hoist up the Watford flag’ (a nifty adaptation of ‘Sloop John B’) has been nicked from another set of supporters, but who cares – as chorus after chorus rang out from the Rookery, I felt my spirits lift.
In truth, it wasn’t a great game, thanks mainly to Palace’s constant niggling – charmless nerks, the lot of them, as Norman Stanley Fletcher would have said. But to me, it was one of those afternoons that epitomise the joy of supporting a football team. I got to celebrate two goals (one of them possibly offside, the other untidily bundled over the line), bite my fingernails as our defence indulging in some last-ditch clearances, abuse Neil Warnock (always a pleasure), sing a rousing new song... and, for 90 minutes, forget all about life outside the stadium. And that, for me at least, is a big part of what football is for.