Passion can mean many things; for some it is two people’s love for each other, for others it is food or wine or clothes. For many, though, it is a sports team, often a football team and perhaps one close to where you were brought up. Well, it is a long time since I had moved away from the area where I had grown up and also a long time since I had been to a professional football match. I put that down to having lived on islands (Jersey and the Isle of Man) for the past 27 years but family and work commitments have played a huge factor in this as well.
This season, “My team” – Watford – had been promoted to the Premier league again only this time there was more optimisum that they wouldn’t just go up for one season as had been the case in the recent past. New owners had pumped money into the club, it had a brand new stand, a brand new manager and in Troy Deeney a proven goal scorer.
So, how come I managed to get to see the match? The first match of the season was away at Everton, but the first home match the following week against West Bromwich Albion appealed especially as Sally was going to stay with her friend Elizabeth over the weekend in question leaving me to “supervise” some floor laying at home and then follow over later.
Although I had not been to a match for some time, I had a fan ID probably from when I had shares in the club so although not on the first priority list for tickets, managed to get one a week or so before the match and I was set.
A late slow ferry to Heysham the night before, an overnight in Warrington and a drive down the motorways gave a brief time in the town before walking the small distance to Vicarage Road.
Not quite a packed stadium – probably a few on their summer holidays but a very colourful and noisy atmosphere, especially from the Rookery End.
My seat was virtually pitch level in the Graham Taylor stand towards the noisy Rookery End.
Historically, a passion about a football team was a male preserve but more recently women are embracing “the beautiful game” not only as supporters but also – as evidenced by the recent Women’s World Cup held in Canada – as players, so it was not surprising really to see a good number of women and girls of all ages at the match.
The hype of pre-season really didn’t live up to reality unfortunately as a goalless draw was the result which still left the Hornets unbeaten with 2 points and mid-table but an enjoyable afternoon nevertheless. Too many passes between midfielders and defence, not enough of the ball getting through to our two strikers, Deeney and Ighalo. Oh well, at least we are still unbeaten. COYH.
Match over and a drive after a tea in town to Elizabeth’s house in Solihull and a couple of lovely walks the following day both before (Malvern and Brueton Park)
and after lunch at the King’s Arms, Warwick Road, Solihull followed by a walk next to the canal at Hatton Locks, a flight of 21 locks on the Grand Union Canal – not a lot of boat activity – but a fair few fellow walkers and cafe patrons.
Off the following day to Tewksbury for lunch – just because we have never been there before – a lovely town that suffered tremendously a few years ago with some flooding of the nearby River Severn.
The town is adorned with flags showing Tewksbury Battlefield Society as part of their campaign to publicise the Medieval history of the town.
The Abbey is also well worth a visit with some fantastic stained glass windows.
Overnight at Phillip & Sylvia’s to get some more ideas on our forthcoming trip to the US and a drive back to Liverpool for the ferry home and preparation for the Motorcycle Festival at the end of August when we are hosting 6 bikers (spectators, not competitors) from the Reading area as part of the Island’s Homestay scheme.