"Graham Taylor - hard taskmaster or genius"
By Paul Baker
In August 1981, I was lucky enough to be asked to be linesman for a pre-season
friendly between Watford and Northampton Town. This match was purely arranged
to monitor the fitness levels of the teams and was therefore played behind closed doors.
The kickoff was at 12:00 and the temperature on Monday 24th August was about
85° F. The game was generally very poor and Watford won 1 - 0 due to an own-goal by
a Northampton defender. As this was still in the days before 'sports science' and players
didn't attempt to re-hydrate themselves with water during the game, it was very noticeable
that in the last 20 minutes, most of the Northampton team looked shattered and were
constantly asking the referee how much longer there was to go in the game.
Eventually, the game finished and the players and officials went for a shower
and a light lunch. The Northampton squad left quickly as they were totally exhausted.
To my amazement, the Watford squad ate their lunches and discussed who was likely
to win that afternoons cross country race. The moral of the story was that Watford were
promoted to the First Division for the first time in their history and Northampton finished
22nd in the Third Division.
The players may not have appreciated the hard training demanded of them by
Graham, but the success that he led Watford to was total vindication to his methods.
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