POST MATCH RAMBLE: Watford -v- Wednesday

POST MATCH RAMBLE: Watford -v- Wednesday

I have absolutely no idea why I was looking forward to this game so much after all, it’s a long old drive, it’s straight after me finishing work at 8am and to make things worse, we never ever get any kind of result down there…

BUT…

…after the last couple of performances mebbe there was something, just something, however small to cling to…some tiny scrap of comfort to give us all hope…before pounding our hearts to pulp again.

Once I’d got work out of the way it was a short drive home to get all the lucky routines out of the way…

Stonehenge

Is that it?

How the hell do you go about sorting through lucky routines when you’ve been on a run like we have and I’m guessing…HOPING…that somewhere in the Watford area, given their recent run of bad form that there was a Hornets fan struggling to sort out his lucky matchday routine too….

Obviously it would be easier for him as we haven’t won away from home since they put the finishing touches to Stonehenge, stood back to admire it and said  “Is that it? Is there something missing?”

Anyway I went home, clambered into the marital bed and a couple of moments later had the same words running through my head as those Stonehengers and I was back out for the other lucky Sh’s…

I was in a belting mood and feeling totally invincible now…

I loaded the car up and headed out to pick up the Young Un and then on to pick up Danny….

Both of em tucked up in the car and I needed a bit of snackette before the journey got underway so we nipped into the McDonalds drive through for a burger….the Young called ‘WELSH VOICE’!

Obviously now that meant by law that I had to order in a Welsh accent…I tried my best but it didn’t really come off and other than saying ‘LUVLEEE’ after everything I ended up sounding like Apu from the Simpsons doing a poor rendition of ‘Walkin on da Moon’….which happened to be on the radio at that exact time.

The lass at the window knew I was pillocking about as well and flashed an unconvincing but charming smile that once more had the Stonehengers words about it….Wise men them Stonehengers!

The drive down to Watford was plain sailing really, even I can’t get that wrong. There’s not really much to riving in a straight line is there? Mebbe I should stick to that in future…straight lines.

We parked up in the multi-storey car park over the road from Vicarage Road in town and headed over to the ground…

Despite the rubbish I’ve had to endure on previous visits here and the awful results we’ve rammed down our throats I still like going to this ground and I quite like the walk from car park to the ground too…I have no idea why.

It’s not exactly full of charm, character or historical beauty but it feels like a proper footy walk if that makes sense.
There are some places where when you walk to the ground, irrespective of your expectations, your hopes or fears and regardless of form it still feels ‘very footy’.

I get a similar feeling walking to Hillsborough and as the Young Un said when we’d walked through the paved precinct and started onto the road to the ground…there’s something ‘very football’ about walking in the middle of the road amongst fellow footy fans, whether it’s the same team or not and when you have two teams like these in very indifferent form we probably have more in common at that moment than at any other…I dunno….maybe it’s just me but I suppose it feels like a footy bond.
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Watford Stand

Excuse the mess

Into the ground and a quick nip to the toilets before we find our seats…

Whilst I’m in there, there’s a few blokes talking about ‘typical Wednesday’ and despite the general mood being one of ‘expect the worst hope for the best’ ya couldn’t help but feel a warmer bond amongst us all (And not just because I was stood at the urinals) almost like we felt we had to say stuff like that, it was ingrained into us, we daren’t have too much hope for fear of it being dashed so soon.

I caught the back end of a conversation underlining just that. A bloke was talking about getting his hopes up only to see them dashed instantly and insisted there was nothing worse…I disagreed and suggested getting pasted every week and not winning since the Stonehengers questioned their building skills was by far the worst thing ever, well that and standing on a plug…but I suggested we had a good chance today as Watford weren’t in good form either

He said ‘we have a habit of ending other teams bad runs though and starting them on the path to promotion’

It was hard to disagree with him to be fair as we’d seen it so many times recently but not only did I not believe it this time, I don’t think he did either…there was a lack of conviction in his words, maybe the good vibe from the players and the extra effort in the performances was rubbing off on all of us.

Anyway….several hours later my ancient bladder was empty and I headed out to find the others and our seats…

We were a good way up towards the back but because it wasn’t a sell out in the away end there were plenty of empty seats for us to move should we prefer to get a bit closer.

We watched the players warm up down in front of us and once they’d finished, Stuart Gray led the applause to the traveling fans and immediately the rest joined in bringing a great response of chanting and warm applause from the Wednesday fans.

As the teams returned to the pitch a few minutes later for kick off we moved down the front to the empty seats and a closer view…

Have Watford always come out to Z Cars?
I don’t remember it before…though obviously with my addled memory that doesn’t mean much and I realise I may have asked the same question many times over when doing these rambles over the years but it doesn’t seem right to me….
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THE MATCH

As soon as the teams appeared it looked a match between muscle and skill with us providing the muscle…we towered above the Watford players, or most of them anyway and it wasn’t long before the home side were showing how good they were the ball at their feet as we struggled to settle.

In those opening minutes Watford passed the ball well and got forward readily and with pace, getting in behind us alarmingly easily….fortunately we managed to clear up after them though they did get a corner which surprisngingly caused more problems than it should.

Barring one or two players we towered above them in the box and we had pretty much every player back to defend yet they still managed an uncontested header on goal that fortunately for us went over the bar, they really should have done better and it reminded me of the chance Nuhiu passed up against Forest last week at Hillsborough.

We really needed to settle ourselves down and keep hold of the ball a while and ya know what, we did just that…it had taken a good quarter of an hour but we took hold of the ball, passed it about and patiently tried to build up play….it was exactly what we needed otherwise we were in danger of losing any foothold we might get in the game.

When Watford attacked again a few minutes later we looked a little more ready for them and quickly we turned defence into attack, breaking out with pace and purpose of our own now…and when Wickham was fouled just outside the box the excitement levels from the Wednesday fans lifted a little and as McPhail and Wickham himself stood over the ball you could hear the Wednesday fans muttering…

‘Let Connor take it…let Wickham have a go…’

Connor Wickham Watford

Weight of expectation

There was an air of expectation about it all…the weight of the whole of Wednesday expectations on the young strikers shoulders…he carries them well…

He strolled up to the ball before leathering it goalward where it found its now customary place, the back of the net…of course we went nuts and so did the players, running over towards our bench and the subs who were stood on the touchline watching anxiously before they all joined in together enjoying the moment and once again underlining the togetherness this squad seems to have these days.

We had a few good minutes of settled play immediately after the goal, as you would expect and Liam Palmer was putting in some truly outrageous cross field passes that found his man, usually Helan, every time but we just weren’t able to capitalise on them….

We were also on the receiving end of some very dodgy decisions from the ref and the linesman nearest us…the linesman was missing foul after foul and throw in after throw in and on at least 2 occasions was actually looking the wrong way when the ball went out but somehow still managed to guess it wrong….his mate in the middle wasn’t faring much better as he let a poor foul on Kieran Lee ride only to see us battle onwards with the ball and watch Maghoma dance his way into the box only to be brought crashing down and for the ref to wave it away…

Of course the Wednesday fans were going ballistic and so were the Wednesday subs and bench…to make things worse the news filtering through on the fans mobile phones stating that the pundits on Skysports were adamant it was a stonewall penalty didn’t help the mood of any of us and the boos only got louder and the now familiar chant rung out…

YA DON’T KNOW WHAT YA DOIN!

The officials were really driving me nuts now and the lino at the side of us especially. I’d decided he was now gonna be called ‘Comedy Lino’

Yeah, yeah I know, I’m the master of cutting comments, it’s a gift I have and given the fact he will have been totally oblivious to his new name it may seem a little futile, not to mention infantile but I DON’T CARE!

HE WAS DOIN’ ME NUT IN!

When he made another god awful decision I decided that was it…I got me phone ready and I was about to let the entire internet world know just how bad this guy was…I opened up twitter and prepared to type…

“this comedy chuffin lino is….”

As I was putting the text in I looked up and Watford looked to have beaten us all ends up…a lovely floated ball in behind our defence and their player nipped in and finished it expertly before running across in front of us celebrating…

I let out a huge HARRUMPH! And was just about to return to my text about the Comedy Lino when I looked up and saw he had his flag up proudly and defiantly cutting the Watford celebrations short…

Almost instantly me, the Young Un and Danny chimed up with a rousing chorus of…

YA DO KNOW WHAT YA DOING!
YA DO KNOW WHAT YA DOING!

I trashed the text…it didn’t seem right now to bad mouth our new mate…our lino mucka…he was ok he was! I liked him.

They weren’t done with just yet though and Watford managed to breach our iffy defences once more before halftime getting in a superb shot from all of 20 yards which Martinez was only able to parry down and forward…Watford had a player all over the spilt ball and in a flash he was on it…this time there was no way Martinez could recover to keep it out…

The Watford player couldn’t quite get enough power on it but the ball still headed goalwards…Martinez was having none of it…he was in determined mood and somehow managed to rearrange himself to keep it out, great stuff and earned the young loanee a fantastic burst of applause from the Wednesday fans for his efforts…

The half time whistle blew and we could recover our composure and settle down for what was surely going to be a difficult second half…

We’d ridden the Watford storm well in that half, such as it was and settled into our task well…could we hold on for another 45 minutes though and collect not only our first away win but our first clean sheet…I doubt many Wednesday fans truly believed either was achievable….apart from me of course.
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Those fears of a Watford onslaught weren’t misplaced…

OK, maybe not exactly an onslaught but they had a hell of a lot of the ball and they tried like hell to break us down but no matter what they threw at us we stood firm and as the game went on you could feel the will and drive drain from some of the Watford players…

True enough they are a skilful bunch of players but they don’t look up for a fight, a bit like our players have looked at times over this season…a lot of their possession saw them pass the ball sideways all the way across the pitch and when they did get it forward into and around our box we stood firm.

The actual possession was a bit embarrassing if we’re honest as we just couldn’t get a grip of the game and when we did get the ball we gave it away cheaply…I was watching the clock from a long way out and it seemed to be stuck….I’m sure we’d been on 60 minutes for 3 or 4 hours now….we’d been joined by Owlbob for the second half and he was just as bad as me…clock watchin, twistin’ and turnin’, trying to kick the ball clear, heading it for our defence….it was getting painful and there was so much time left…there’s no way my ticker could see this game out never mind our defence…

We did get the odd, very rare moment of respite as we put the ball across the heart of the 6yd box a couple of times only to see it go right across unhindered on its travels.

Let’s not make any bones about this, this was Watfords game and it was most definitely their half…Zola made changes and they turned the screw and it was agony to watch and SURELY only a matter of time before they got the reward their play probably deserved…

I say deserved…but it would also be fair to say our defence were outstanding…all 11 of them…that’s not to say we parked the bus, we didn’t, we just couldn’t do anything else but defend and hack the ball clear…when it dropped a couple of times into the box there were probably 20 players in there, it was pinging around like a pinball and never mind the players on the pitch getting it clear there must have been a couple of thousand twitching feet and twisting bodies in the away stand doing their bit too…I was shattered…I’d twist to my left and there’s Bob twisting the same way, both us trying some crazy voodoo type thing to help the players…I turned the other way and there’s the Young Un, Danny and every Wednesday body doing exactly the same…

You could say things were getting a little tense….

You also know that when things DO get like this, it’s when the Wednesday fans are at their best and vocal support helped alleviate the tension amongst us and I’m sure rallied the players on the pitch, it was outstanding stuff…

COME ON WEDNESDAY! YOU CAN DOOO EEEET!

HOLD THE CHUFF ON!

Both me and Bob were at our wits end now….I was turning away, I couldn’t watch most of it….when I could watch all I could shout was

GET SHUT! GET IT OUT WEDNESDAY!

I think I squeaked it rather than shouted though and no sooner had it left my gob than I was turning away again….muttering all the time…come on, come on, come on….hold on…hold on….

When they got a corner I was most definitely not watching…I was convinced they would score…the ball came in, I looked away…

The Young Un and Danny shouted GREAT TAKE MARTINEZ!

Martinez

Go-Go Martinez

Apparently it was a great take….I’ll take your word for it…

I looked up the line at Atdhe Nuhiu who was clapping and urging the players on…when the ball went anywhere near the line he was shouting his lungs out at the lino…making sure he got it right…he didn’t stop, working his plums off…he probably did more in those closing stages than if he’d played…it was incredible, it was wonderful to see!

We were counting the clock down…5 minutes to go….come on…hold on Wednesday…then I remembered there’d been a Watford player down at the start of the half. He’d been down for at least 4 or 5 minutes and that would have to be added on…

OH CHUFF ME SIDEWAYS!

I could feel my heart pounding like mad….and it struck me at that point…I hadn’t felt like this at a Wednesday game in absolutely ages and as agonising as it was…I LOVED IT!

It seemed as though I was now spending as much time grabbing hold of the Young Un and watching the clock as I was looking at the pitch…OK, definitely spending more time looking away from the pitch…

I said to the Young Un…THAT’S IT! TIME UP ON MY WATCH!

No sooner had I said it and Watford had burst through with a beautiful piece of skill leaving our battle weary defence for dead.

Their lad drove down on goal with just Go-Go Martinez to beat and I swear you could feel the sharp intake of breath from the Wednesday fans and hear the cracks in every single blue and white heart as it prepared for breaking…

We were every single one of us, man, woman and child 100% sure we had been done at the death…but as the Watford player prodded the ball forward and we contorted as one ready for the pain…we watched as it slowly….slooooowly and  gleefully slid wonderfully wide and past the right hand post…

The collective sigh was like a hurricane of relief and there was now a huge question mark above the away end…we were absolutely gobsmacked…we stood there slackjawed wondering…how did he miss?

What happened?

We couldn’t believe it and our gaze turned once more to the referee as we tried with all our psychic prowess to make him blow for full time…it worked…he did just that and the tension, in an instance was gone.

We’d won nothing.

We celebrated as though our lives depended on it…the players celebrated, piling on each other…the subs and bench getting involved, so happy…it was incredible, there was no cup, no promotion, no relegation avoided, just a dull old mid-season away game but this meant everything…it was our first away win of the season, the first here in a long time and it felt beautiful…we were back together at last.

The Wednesday fans lifted their voices again and not one of us moved until the players came over to us, which they did, led by the Roger Johnson roar…he was lovin it…pumping the air and bellowing out a victory roar, soon followed by the rest of the team….oh man…what a moment…what a moment…
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We were second best here in football terms, it may be harsh in Watford but that won’t bother us…we’ve suffered too many results like this. Games we should have won, games in which we’ve been by far the better team yet come away with nothing…it felt good to have it the other way around and at times you really could see the shoulders drop on some of the Watford players….

What we lacked in skill to match Watford we more than made up for with heart and steel…every single one of those players, subs used and NOT used can take a bow…this was a gutsy, battling, hard fought, balls to the wall performance and maybe we didn’t deserve it on football skill alone but we deserved it twice over on mettle alone.

There was a lot to like about the performance, not individually as there wasn’t really anyone that stood out but as a team, showing real togetherness, we were outstanding…I suppose I can put a word in for Reda

This was a much improved performance by the big man…forget what we’ve seen of him recently, they were shocking performances, this was a long way removed from that and he gave his all and did very well indeed against a skill attack, at times looking composed and skilful and they didn’t mug him many times if any times during this game.

The walk back to the car was a joy…it was very easy to pick out the different fans…you don’t need colours to separate fans after a game like this, the smiles and frowns will do that…even ’waiting for ages in the car park wasn’t a bother…the heavy traffic through town was a doddle and the 3 hours back up the motorway a cinch…but things always look brighter when you win away don’t they?

Don’t they?

We’re new to all this….

I’m pretty sure after a game like that Watford fans will be thinking the same as those Stonehenge blokes….

Is that it? Is there something missing?

Yes, the 3 points…ZOINKS!

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Cheers
Steve:Beastie
Owls Alive
E-MAIL: admin@owlsalive.com
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive or @beastie_


2 Comments

  1. Good ramble mate. Was Maghomas a pen or not. ???

    • Not seen it since Ian but it looked a great shout from our admittedly poor view at the opposite end

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