Sunday, 23 December 2012

Watford 2 Nottingham Forest 0

Since the Mayan soothsayers had not delivered the Apocalypse, I woke up on Saturday morning hoping that the “new cycle” promised the useless feckers might somehow magically coincide with a Golden Age for Boston United. 

There weren’t any airborne horsemen or wailing trumpets, but waking up on Saturday morning, the “End of All Things” had certainly delivered biblical rain. I could hear it lashing on the window next to my bed and it simply did not bode well for my plans to go to Altrincham and watch the start of the Graham Drury “cycle” at Boston United.

I remained in bed until news of the pitch inspection came through on Twitter - it never stood a chance given the deluge over the North. Every game beneath the Championship and north of Nottingham seemed to be off and all the back-ups I’d so assiduously prepared were among them. 

I didn’t regret the decision not to jump on the train at Euston - there were delays and staff shortages aplenty and a very genuine chance i’d have been stranded in Manchester as much of the West Coast line was three foot under water. Definitely dodged the bullet there. 

To be honest, I had been looking forward to just sitting on a train for a couple of hours and doing nothing as I was feeling the after-consequences of a night at the Ally Pally for the Darts World Championships - which is obviously a quiet, couple-of-pint affair...

After watching Football Focus, I decided that sitting in and watching the rain wasn’t an acceptable way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Games were being called off left, right and centre, but anything above the Championship seemed like a safe bet. So I got to Euston after all, and went off the Watford.

At university, I seemed to meet an extraordinary number of people from Watford, including two flatmates who lived on the same street and yet had never met each other. But I’d only been to the town a couple of times and had never visited Vicarage Road, so this was a good opportunity.

It’s an odd venue, with three very modern and well-designed stands and an entire side that is currently used for little more than the press and television cameras. I guess the club would have to be firmly re-established in the Premier League for it to be worth redeveloping and, in fairness, Gianfranco Zola’s side are in with a good shot - this win took them sixth, into the play-off spots.

My ticket in the corner of the Lower Rous stand cost £26, though Watford did that annoying thing where you can’t purchase a ticket without giving them all your personal details and not doubt signing yourself up to an avalanche of leaflets and promotional crap for all eternity. More fool them though, I made up the address...

The place was pretty full - over 15,000 off the back of the recent good form - but the atmosphere was totally flat. Even Forest’s 2,000 travelling fans were lacking in festive boisterousness. After about ten minutes, the Harry the Hornet mascot walked into one of the corners and returned with a massive drum. It was literally an attempt to drum up some noise and it failed miserably. But the character was nothing if not persistent in trying to create some passion and the first-half was played out to the sounds of a booming thud and the high-pitched screech of children going “Yellow Army” in front of me. 

It’s been a good seven years since I watched Forest play and, despite starting the match in the top half, they were absolutely abysmal and a disgrace to the fans who’d forked out good money three days before Christmas to come and watch them. 

They were behind on the quarter-hour when Guy Moussi lost possession sloppily and Almen Abdi’s pass found the Czech Matej Vydra. He made no mistake, blasting the ball at Lee Camp with such force that the Forest keeper could only watch it fly in. 

The Norwich loanee Daniel Ayala was a liability - he’d already been cautioned for fouling Vydra and when he again mistimed a challenge on the wet surface on Troy Deeney, he booking himself a Christmas off. Moments later, Forest were made to pay when Vydra found himself breaking through the Reds’ reshuffled defence to finish with aplomb. 

As the rain poured down after the break, things deteriorated with the conditions. Despite the best efforts of Billy Sharp and Adlene Guedioura, Forest’s best players, they mustered only a couple of half-chances in the entire afternoon. Watford didn’t do a lot either and by the end, it was just nice to get somewhere warm and dry. 

Next Match: Boston United host Corby Town in this year’s Boxing Day derby