My God, I loved last Saturday’s match against West Ham. Absolutely bloody loved it.
We comprehensively dominated and defeated a top flight team in the top flight. We hadn’t done that since the 1980s – when it felt like we did it every day. Before breakfast.
I was caught off guard about how much this meant to me. The last twelve months have been fantastic. But Saturday went deeper. It was as if I’d returned to my happy place after 30 years of searching for it.
But you know what people say about things that seem too good to be true. So, on Wednesday, I went to the ‘At Our Place’ fans’ forum at the club.
I’ve usually steered clear of these events. I’m not interested in a selfie with the head coach. My acrylic cardigan (Primark) would be put to shame by QSF’s knitwear (New Sheriff). And for many years the men who ran the club weren’t people I wanted to meet. I certainly never wanted to press the flesh with Bankrupt Baz, that renowned helmet-head.
The Pozzo ownership, though, has had me interested from the off. Compare it to previous regimes and it’s chalk and cheese. Cathcart and Catleugh. From the moment it started, I’ve wanted to understand it better. But on Wednesday there was something else I wanted to know. Even though we’re enjoying great success, three years into the regime, I can’t help worrying whether our club actually is in good hands.
A well-balanced person would tell me I’ve got trust issues. But I’ve watched Watford being run by the likes of Jim Bonser, Jack Petchey, and Graham Simpson as well as Bassini. I’ve been scarred since childhood.
And, to be fair, it’s only natural to harbour doubt about someone who’s looking after something you love with all your heart. Does a parent ever fully trust a childminder? Does a father ever fully trust a daughter’s boyfriend?
So I rolled up at the fans’ forum. It started well. My club’s top brass – chief exec, head coach and captain – were happy to answer any question on any topic from any Watford fan who’d wanted to be there. It felt open, welcoming and transparent – which ought to have been good enough by itself to overcome my trust issues. But then it got better.
The chief executive was impressive. The head coach was huggable. The captain was… Well, he was Troy Deeney. He was engaging, down-to-earth, funny and honest. Exactly how, in a perfect world, you’d want all sporting legends to be.
It felt as if there were no barriers. No them and us.
I couldn’t find fault. As the evening ended, my happy place tapped me on the shoulder at Vicarage Road for a second time in a week.
So. Do I feel that our club is in good hands?
Perhaps I’ll never feel complete trust. (I know what it is to be a parent.)
Perhaps the owners are doing a brilliant job at pulling the wool over my eyes. (Soft, comfy, beautiful-smelling wool.)
But right now I want to answer ‘yes’ with a certainty I never would have thought possible as a Watford fan for so many years. Not since Elton.
Call me deluded, call me an old fool.
But right now Jimmy Armchair is in his happy place and he never wants to leave.