One of the benefits of being married to a Yorkshire lass is that I get to lord it over Leeds fans. My other half comes from Ossett, a few miles south of Leeds, and many of her male relatives and her friends’ husbands support United – and fortuitously, for much of the 10 years that we’ve been together, Watford have outperformed Leeds for what is probably the only prolonged such period in football history. The Championship Play-off Final in Cardiff was a particular highlight, obviously, but opportunities for smugness keep on coming.
For the last three seasons I’ve made the trip to Elland Road in the company of Richard, the husband of one of my wife’s oldest friends and a long-suffering Leeds fan. Having watched his first game in 1967, he’s witnessed plenty of glory in his time, but has nothing but contempt for the current regime, and refuses to put money in Ken Bates’s pocket by going to games – other than my annual visit, bless him. Two years ago we saw a 2-2 draw (with the Hornets only minutes away from an unlikely win), and last season we won 2-0.
But nothing could have prepared me (or Richard) for yesterday’s match, one of the most extraordinarily action-packed games I’ve ever seen. You’ll have seen the match reports, so I won’t run through the litany of incidents here. The point I want to make it is that the identity of the opposition made it exquisitely enjoyable – it just wouldn’t have been so much fun if that had happened to Derby, say, or Ipswich. Now I’m looking forward to dropping the result into the conversation at forthcoming family parties. Winning 6-1 is all very well – but it’s the opportunity to gloat that makes it special.