Saturday, 24 September 2011

Watford - Vicarage Road

Watford FC
Vicarage Road Stadium

01923 496000
Official Website

Matchday Number: 24
Tuesday 19th November 1996
Watford 1-0 Wycombe Wanderers
Nationwide League Division 2

My 23rd Matchday was a reverse of my first one. Back in 1991, my first ever game was Wycombe beating Watford 2-1 in a friendly. At the time, Wycombe were in the Conference and Watford were in the second division, with 2 whole leagues separating them. But 5 years later they were equals, both playing in the third division. This was now known as Division 2, following the Premiership rebranding exercise in 1992.

Coming into the game, Wycombe were rock bottom of the league. But form had improved slightly under new manager John Gregory. They had just had the first win of his tenure, beating Neil Warnock's Plymouth side 2-1. And the week before they had disposed of bitter rivals Colchester in the FA Cup. In a very defensive game, Wycombe were unlucky not to grab a deserved draw. But disaster struck on 89 minutes when a mix up between Dave Carroll and Jason Kavanagh, allowed Gary Penrice to intercept and pass the ball to David Connolly, who put the goal past John Cheesewright for the winner.

The subsequent visit from Wycombe was memorable as it was just after the death of Princess Diana and Watford chairman Elton John was recording his "Candle In The Wind" song at the time. Wycombe lost 2-1 on that occasion, Paul Read getting the goal. Ironically the week before, Wycombe had beaten Fulham 2-0 at home. At the time the club were owned by Al Fayed, whose son Dodi had also died in the tragic crash in Paris. My third and latest visit was in January 2011, not for a Wycombe awayday, but for Watford's FA Cup game against Brighton. An error from Watford keeper Rene Gilmartin allowed Brighton to snatch a winner, not that either manager really cared much, judging by their team line-ups.

3 sides of VICARAGE ROAD, are smart new and modern. Behind each goal are a large seated single tiered stand, one of them known as the Rookery End. To the left of the visitors seating when Wycombe visited, or to the right if you go there today is the 2 tiered Rous Stand. The other stand is a bit tatty and includes disused terracing at the side. Plans are afoot to rebuild this stand, though they have been for over 10 years now and nothing has happened.

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