This store requires javascript to be enabled for some features to work correctly.

Say What You See: Goalmouth Scramble

What do old photographs get you thinking? Olly Wicken gives us a stream of consciousness on a shot from February 1982.


"It’s 1982 and I see the kind of goalmouth scramble that rarely happens these days. Barnesy and Luther are getting stuck in. Cally’s putting his head where today’s players wouldn’t put their fancy orange boots.

It was the kind of football that got us out of our seats – recognisably the same game that we played on park pitches ourselves. “A game to excite the people,” as GT famously said in a BBC interview later that year. The thrills came from the spills. Football’s different now.

This was the 1981/82 promotion season when we went up to the top division and stayed there for a while. It’s the equivalent of 2014/15 in that sense. Both Watford sides were among my favourite ever. But I don’t remember Ighalo and Vydra, or even Deeney, throwing themselves into goal-line bundles like this.

We’re playing Chelsea in the photo. I’d watched Barnesy make his first start for us at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season. He was incredible. The home fans weren’t happy – especially the one I saw dressed in full SS uniform. There was a lot wrong on the terraces in those days.

My memories of that era are golden, but the photo doesn’t make things look pretty. I loved the Shrodells stand, but it was clearly just a corrugated iron barn with seats. And look at the pitch. The divots are the size of small mammals.

Football has a much higher level of packaging and presentation in 2020. And I haven’t stopped loving the game. But, deep down, I think I’m still “the man on the terrace” that GT used to talk about."