Ah well, it can only get better. For no particular reason here' a column about going to Vicarage Road I wrote for the Boro programme a few years back and an FA Cup-themed picture of Ironworks Road from the distant past.
Whenever Watford FC are mentioned I always find myself thinking of the approach to the away end at Vicarage Road. The approach to the Vicarage Road away end is something of a football legend. At Darlington’s old ground, Feethams they used to make you walk across a cricket field, but that’s nothing compared to what you have to go through in Hertfordshire. The approach to the Watford away end is Like one of those optical puzzles that used to appear in kids’ comics - the more you advance towards the ground the further away from it you seem to get. You wander through allotments, past balding me in cardigans with spray guns of phosphrogen cradled in their arms like Uzis, through acres of creosoted larch-lap fencing and tongue-and-grooved pitch-pine sheds, between cabbage patches and rhubarb beds, you lose sight of the stands altogether and then, suddenly, just as you are about to fall to your knees weeping in despair, you turn yet another corner and there the turnstiles are, right in front of you. Unfortunately by that stage the native bearers have panicked and run off with all your baggage.
I say the approach to the Vicarage Road away end is legendary, and that is particularly true for Boro fans. During the 1990s, Teessiders would often discuss the mythical tale of the “severed finger”. According to legend a travelling Boro fan had somehow got one of his digits trapped in a fence leading to the Hornets’ ground and. in his hurry to get into the stadium in time to see Ian Baird doing his warm up, had ripped it off and left it behind. Others who passed the finger claim that it was still wiggling, possibly in an attempt to applaud the arrival of Paul Kerr, or a splendid save during the kick-in by Stephen Pears, or maybe just beckoning onwards any Teessiders who were considering turning back in frustration and going down the pub instead.
Whether this story is true or not I have no idea. Medical professionals have told me it is implausible. But plenty of seemingly impossible things happen in football. After all what seems more unlikely to you: that some bloke from Middlesbrough would pull his own finger off so as not to miss a second of action involving Alan Kernaghan and Simon Coleman, or that that Liverpool would pay £39 million for Andy Carroll?