"I thought you lot would be here"
By Peter Fincham
After a few summery weeks of expectation, Don Fraser mumbled something about "a trip to Russia" at one of the pre-season cricket matches, and a mere seven days later, Don, Adrian Spender and myself found ourselves at Heathrow airport awaiting the scheduled flight not to Russia, but to Lithuania. It is one of those memories that will never leave me, the look on GT's face as he saw Adrian (with camcorder), Don (with sticks) and myself (with Don) hurtle up to him at Heathrow to wish him well for the trip.
"I thought you lot would be here," the great man sighed, as he realised that this quiet weekend training session had turned into a bit of an event! After a brief chat about the fact that Phillips was definitely off to Sunderland, we said our goodbyes, and made a pact amongst ourselves to just let the team and manager get on with their tour. That lasted about ten minutes when in the departure lounge GT came and sat right next to us.
The weekend was an incredible learning experience for me, and I am not just referring to the use of the Lithuanian language whilst pointing to the words in the translation book. For despite the football side, and listening to Graham's thoughts on professionalism, playing to strengths, and issues on the game in general, the three days were a lesson in how I would want to treat people. In hindsight I am sure there was nothing he wanted less, as the new manager of Watford Football Club, than three people coming with the team to the other side of Europe to watch two meaningless games against very respectable opposition, before reporting back on the Internet every indiscretion, every event, every misplaced pass or mistimed tackle. What he wanted was a quiet few days away from the gaggling masses to work with the team, to get a team spirit into the team, and blood the new guys in a fairly relaxed environment. Hence the attentions of three fanatical fans could be seen as unrequired attention. But not once during the weekend did any of us feel in the way, or out of place. We were invited onto the team coach for the trip to Kanus, and travelled with the team for the first match of the weekend. They even played along with the fact that we were with the BBC in order that we could film much of the opening days entertainment from the edge of the pitch. Quite what job Don had sitting in his wheelchair in his second of five Watford tops he wore that weekend I don't know; but Graham even volunteered a half time interview during the Alania Vladikavkaz game. Can you imagine Alex Fergusson, Kenny Daglish or George Graham playing along?
Shortly afterwards the weekend ended, we all returned, and the Burnley game arrived. The rest, they say, is well documented elsewhere, but for Don, Aidy and I, we were there at the start of the great mans final incarnation as manager of Watford Football Club.
The best �275 flight I have ever bought, as in one weekend I learned more about how a real gentleman operates, than at any time previously!
Thank you for everything Mr. Taylor.
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