"Alright to introduce him to the boys?"
By Stuart Clarke
It was summer 1977 when my father, Chairman of the Dacorum Friendly League, was told that the vice-Chair, Geoff Smith, who held the same office for Watford FC, would be bringing a special-guest to Ashlyns School in Berkhamsted, to perform the end of season honours (handing out medals to the boys). My Dad, Roy, was actually a bit worried that Geoff might not bring anyone or even, since the function was already underway, might not show at all and he would have to fill in as a V.I.P.
Watford were manager-less at the time and, under the direction of Elton John, looking for a new face. Possibly a name. Bobby Moore was odds-on favourite. 'Roy" said Geoff, I've the new Watford manager in the car park - alright to introduce him to the boys"?
The news had been broken that very day that a certain Graham Taylor was to be the new manager. Not a 'name' but someone with pedigree. Still a young man, of playing age, Graham Taylor had hauled record points in getting Lincoln City up from the Fourth Division.
Needless to say Graham sat down with us at the 'VIP's' table after he had done the honors with the boys and my Dad proudly introduced us to him as his sons but more importantly as Watford supporters (a rare breed in those days). Graham was all ears as he started to probe us on our passion for the Horns. "Tell me which players excite you and why but don't tell me which ones you don't like'. What about their style of play, what pleases, what frustrates ?" My brother and I told him we thought they passed too much without shooting enough, they need to be more direct. He probed and probed - taking us, two teenage boys, with all seriousness. Little did we realise we were helping in a very small way to shape the style of play Watford would pursue under GT.
Doubtless Graham held similar conversations will all and sundry in the coming weeks and months. And later, when he would return again to take the reins at Vicarage Road. But my brother and I had been the first.
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