Before the game yesterday, I popped into the Red Lion to have a chat with Lionel Birnie about Tales from the Vicarage, which he was selling there. The place was rammed with Hornets fans watching the Man U-Arsenal game on TV, and when I went to get us a couple of drinks, I found the queue at the bar was three deep.
After a few minutes, I spotted a precious couple of feet of space at the bar opening up, and used the technique (known to all Englishmen) of angling my shoulder into a narrow gap in order to ease the rest of my body through and claim the space.
Then a voice came from behind me: “If you don’t mind, I think I was in front of you.” The man didn’t sound aggressive, more irritated, but in any case I quickly stepped back and made way for him, apologising as I did so.
A moment or two later, he turned round. “I’m sorry mate, I didn’t mean to have a go at you,” he said. I assured him that it was okay, and that he was quite within his rights to say what he did. These things happened in busy pubs.
But that wasn’t the end of it. After a couple more minutes (I told you they were busy), he turned round again. “Look, you go in front of me. I shouldn’t have said that.” I told him again that it was fine, but he insisted, so I took advantage of the offer, assuring him that I’d be quick, as I was only getting two pints.
I dare say similar scenes were being enacted in pre-match pubs elsewhere in the country at the same time, but it struck me later that this trivial incident tells you a lot about Watford fans. We are, essentially, nice people who want to get on with everyone and don’t like upsetting others. It might mean that Vicarage Road is anything but a scary place for opposing teams, but, on the whole, I think it’s a good thing.