The writer of Hornet Heaven, Olly Wicken, has a tale to tell about watching Watford at Vicarage Road in the 1990s.
The Vicarage Road stand was built in 1993. It rose much higher behind the goal than the previous terrace had done. It gave my friends and me something of a bird’s eye view of the place.
This was the era of Keith Dublin, Perry Digweed and Mickey Quinn so, despite the better view, the football really didn’t match up to what we’d seen during the first Graham Taylor era.
On one occasion, in 1995, I was slouching back in my seat and rolling my eyes at another defeat when I spotted something above our heads. There was a dead pigeon slumped on one of the metal rafters. It seemed to sum up the state of things at Vicarage Road.
The pigeon stayed there for several months. It became the focus for our gallows humour. During a grim 1-0 defeat to Huddersfield, I remember, we discussed which current player was doing the best impersonation of the pigeon. (It was Kerry Dixon.)
Over time, we began to joke that hopefully it wasn’t a pigeon, but a phoenix — the mythological bird that regenerates and rises from its ashes, born again. We must have been desperate.
By mid-February, Watford were adrift at the bottom of the league table. The manager, Glenn Roeder, was sacked. His replacement (as general manager) was Graham Taylor.
At GT’s first game back, I looked up at the rafters. The bird wasn’t there anymore. Had it been a phoenix after all, I wondered. Was the club regenerating and rising, born again?
Well, you know what happened next.
In 2022, Watford FC will be producing a book to celebrate the centenary of the ground as the club’s home. They’re on the look-out for stories that evoke The Vic.
If there’s something you remember that means a lot to you — a memory from a particular part of the ground, or aspects of the stadium you remember fondly — please share it with the club.
You can email them on email@example.com. Please get in touch with your memories of what you’ve loved about being a fan at The Vic.