Book Review: Watford FC on This Day
Memories are often conjured up by sensations. As Proust’s nameless hero bites into the madeleine, the physical rush of the tea soaked cake brings childhood reminiscences flooding back. Hence for Watford fans, a wander down a Mediterranean sidewalk in blazing sunshine might remind them of the time they took a cheeky peek at a day old English newspaper in a Greek newsagent’s to discover that Tony Coton had joined Man City for a cool million pounds in 1990; a chocolate egg devoured might remind them of an Easter Monday thumping of hated rivals Luton in 1983, with those twin heroes Barnes and Blissett instrumental; a Boxing Day hangover might evoke a subsequent win over the Hatters three years later, with Kevin Richardson and Gary Porter on the scoresheet. Our footballing memories are inextricably interwoven with the time of year that games were played – the “where were you when Ramon Vega signed” mentality.
Matt Rowson, steward of the peerless BHaPPY blog, has reacted to this with Watford FC On This Day, a trawl through the days of the year and the events that befell Watford Football Club thereon (in case you’re interested, the Hornets went down 3-1 at Derby on February 29, 1992). It’s an ingenious format and is a great book to dip in and out of. Of course Elton, Ross, Luther, Aidy, Kevin and Graham are all present and correct, with the Cup Final appearances, second in the Land finish, and play off triumphs all featured, once again underlining Watford’s ability to punch above their weight as a club; but this reader took as much pleasure at recalling the names of half-forgotten individuals (to non-Hornets at least) such as Neal Ardley, Jan Lohman, Nordin Wooter and Malcolm Allen.
The snippets are accompanied by a Foreword from long standing custodian Alec Chamberlain and the now disgraced Brendan Rodgers is intriguingly thanked in the acknowledgements. Unlikely to be a book read all the way through at one sitting, the episodic format nonetheless rewards occasional browsing and events are described in Rowson’s typically well crafted prose. Part of a series of books published by Pitch Publishing including Rick Cowdery’s Plymouth Argyle on this Day and Matt Bozeat’s Leicester City on this Day, it’s the first in a double offering from the author, a follow-up being planned for the new year. It’s a no brainer Christmas present for any Golden Boys fan.