Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Get with the programme, pt. 3

Finally, a programme from a home game: Watford v Notts County, a Division 1 fixture from Saturday September 10th, 1983. I have no memory whatsoever of the match, which must have been one of the few I managed to see before going back to university for the start of my second year. I can tell you that we won 3-1 (I wrote the score on the team page, as I continued to do for many years), with goals from John Barnes, George Reilly and Charlie Palmer – the only one he ever scored for the Hornets, according to Trefor Jones’s Watford Football Club Illustrated Who’s Who.

The Notts County team that played that day is studded with familiar names: future managers Martin O’Neill and Nigel Worthington, legendary hardman Brian Kilcline, a sprinkling of foreign exotics – Aki Lahtinen, John Chiedozie, Rachid Harkouk – and the late lamented Justin Fashanu. It’s odd, looking at the league table in the programme, to see County ahead of their local rivals, but behind ours – now a non-league club, of course.

Although the County game was Watford’s first win of the season, the really significant fixture was the next one: the first leg of the UEFA Cup 1st round tie at Kaiserslautern the following Wednesday. Graham Taylor’s editorial is headed ‘Many thanks – now Europe’ and he spends much of it appealing for Watford fans not to disgrace themselves in Germany. Very much a sign of the times, when hooliganism was at its height.

Meanwhile, the fixtures page is mostly taken up with details of travel packages still available for fans wanting to go to the tie. Prices range from £47 for an economy coach trip to £135, which gets you a charter flight from Luton to Saarbrücken, a night in a hotel and a continental breakfast. I wish I’d had the money, or just the gumption, to make the trip (I was studying German – maybe I should have offered my services to the club as a translator), but I stayed home and listened on the radio instead.

The programme as a whole is a lively affair, though surprisingly thin. It’s printed half in colour and half in black and white, and whoever planned the layout doesn’t appear to have thought it through. Thus the reserve team report (with no pictures) and the kit sponsors page are in colour, while the pictorial spread on the recent Open Day, and another two pages of photos from recent games, are in mono.

The overall impression, though, is of confidence: from the large logo on the front cover to the bold yellow and black on the back, this is the programme of a club that knows what it’s achieved and is proud of it. And why not? We’d never had it so good.

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