Laura Goode on a day that was so special for more than just that goal
Were you there when Doyley scored? Of course you were. You may have even bought the T-shirt and have it tucked away alongside your Southampton 7-1 pen and ‘Local man is pleased’ top.
Few of us who witnessed our loyal hero’s first Watford goal on a December night 13 years ago will forget it. For me, that game will stay burned in my memory for a long time, but for a different reason.
It was my first Watford game following my dad’s death. He’d taken me to my first match in 1973 and been an integral part of my Hornets journey. I was dreading the game so much and had walked to the stadium with an extremely heavy heart, knowing that tears would stream down my face at the slightest provocation. However, by the end of the game, my emotions had turned 180 degrees. I was elated by the result and Lloyd’s goal, and the reaction of the fans, his teammates and the great man himself.
On the walk home my dread turned to comfort and gratefulness that Dad had taken me to the Vic as a child and enabled me to experience the highs and lows of following the team. My favourite game with him was the aforementioned drubbing of Southampton – still the best game I have ever seen. It was so exciting that he smoked about two packets of cigarettes during the match, a lot even by his standards, though I imagine he would argue that the game was 120 minutes rather than 90 so this was acceptable.
Not that our match-day experience together was always plain sailing. One of the personality traits that we both shared was always thinking we were right. He was a Chelsea fan who had taken his daughter to support the local team and was mainly interested in seeing a good game of football. I was an ardent Watford fan who just wanted the team to win. This led to some heated discussions during and after the games. I also got embarrassed by him shouting advice to the ref very loudly.
On one occasion after a game, he stormed off following our post-match ‘analysis’. I waited about ten minutes for him to return and then decided to make my own way home. The trouble was that I was driving so he had to go home by public transport. It was a strained atmosphere at home that weekend…
Mum wasn’t interested in football which was probably a blessing. She went to the Vic only once, when Dad decided he didn’t want to come as it was snowing (soft, these Chelsea fans!) It was the early 1980s and I decided that morning that I wanted to go to the game. The only tickets we could get were on the Vicarage Road terrace as opposed to the relative comfort of the Main Stand where I would normally sit. Ipswich Town were the opposition, and when Paul Mariner scored the home terrace was mute apart from Mum, who exclaimed loudly “Oooohhhh, I’ve heard of him...” I’m pleased to report that our club’s family focus shone through and she didn’t get lynched!
Dad’s interest in going to matches started to wane, but my paternal aunt and uncle were season ticket holders so I sat with them. Despite his non-attendance, Dad always wanted to chat about the team’s performance and catch up on all the footie gossip. My grandfather was president of the Middlesex FA, so I reckon that football’s in my blood and my obsession with Watford FC is hereditary. I’m pleased to say it’s continued onto the next generation, as my nephew is a season ticket holder in the Rookery.