Obviously not to my fellow Rookeryites, though. Of the six seats to my left and right, only one was occupied by its usual resident. Taking the same block of seven seats in the row in front of me, there was only one regular; in the row behind, two. That makes five out of 21 season ticket holders who could be bothered to watch Watford play in the only major tournament we had any chance of winning this season.
In their place, for the most part, were families with kids. And I mean young kids – the ages of the ones around me ranged from five to eight, I’d say. I was nearly nine when I went to my first match, and I don’t think I’d have been able to concentrate on 90 minutes of football much before then. But I hope I wouldn’t have spent the entire game kicking the back of the seat in front of me, as the irritating brat behind me did. Or whining for a hot dog, or chasing a balloon up and down the row, like his pals.
The two boys directly in front of me were positively angelic by comparison. Possibly a bit wet, judging by the fact that their parents had brought a blanket to wrap round them, but fair enough, it was bloody cold. In the second half, though, whenever Watford were on the attack and people in the Rookery stood up, Dad would hoist one little lad onto his seat and Mum the other. This clearly took a lot of effort, so the parents were unwilling to lift them down again until the excitement was definitely over. As a result, I spent far more time than I wanted to staring at the backs of two little boys while the ball was down the far end of the pitch.
Don’t get me wrong: I know we need to encourage the next generation of fans to come along to Vicarage Road. But one of the reasons I choose to sit behind the goal in the Rookery is so that I’m surrounded by passionate, noisy fans (though those terms are relative when it comes to Watford fans, obviously). If I wanted to spent an afternoon surrounded by whingeing brats with short attention spans and an obsession with junk food, I’d go to my local multiplex. Now I understand why Graham Taylor created the Family Enclosure all those years ago.