October 16 2011
Jamesey took his well-worn route to Watford - bus-train-tube-train - and it was all very much worthwhile in the end.
It was a day of two halves for me when we travelled up to the Hornets' nest (Oct 15).
Sadly, in the morning, Wales were beaten by France in the Word Cup Rugby semi-finals. A totally unfair sending off of their captain and best player played a large part in the 9-8 defeat although the Welsh didn't help matters by squandering several points with missed kicking opportunities.
I played Welsh schools rugby before my parents upped and moved to south London and it would have been a joy at my time of life to have seen Wales in the final against the All-Blacks. Two small nations meeting at that level would be something never seen in football that I can think of.
Anyhow, forgive my old timer's sentimentality because the second half of the day turned out quite splendidly.
For the first time, I forsook the Palace away area in the Vicarage Road Stand and bought a seat among the home supporters in the Rookery Stand.
The main reason is because my old carcass objects to standing up for two hours and as this is what most away Eagles fans do these days, I don't wish to join 'em. Not only that but I left it late and the Palace allocation sold out quickly.
Quite why Watford FC only gave us half of the Vicarage Road area is a mystery. There were acres of unfilled seats all over the ground so they could have probably filled most of the stand with Palace had they been so inclined.
Another puzzling matter was why police and paddy-wagons were there in such large numbers. It looked as though they were expecting a major battle between the Waffen SS and the Red Army. All football clubs have their idiot troublemakers but Palace and Watford are hardly high in the bad behaviour batting order.
One pleasant surprise in the Rookery was the low level of noise from the sound system. In fact it was so low that I could hardly hear the team announcements at the start, unlike the Selhurst Main Stand where the prime intention seems to be to perforate our eardrums with unnecessarily loud kiddies' pop music.
I thought the game was thoroughly entertaining. Our young pretenders, Wilfried Zaha and Sean Scannell, both looked dangerous and - as always with tricky youngsters facing gnarled, tough defenders - endured some bruising challenges. Naturally enough this was interpreted by the Watford faithful as cheating and faking, bless their hearts.
To my mind, Wilf still has a tendency to try and beat a man too many and lose the ball and but I think he is gradually playing more for the team instead of showing off his tricks.
It was the first live game I had seen since our home defeat to Middlesbrough in mid-September when Jonathan Parr had an awful time. But at Watford, Jonathan seemed to be back on track again and showed his mettle as an aggressive, attacking midfielder in the Geoff Thomas/ Michael Hughes/ Aki tradition.
Wilf's goal in the second half appeared to have secured the three points and Jermaine Easter's stoppage time score made the three points certain. I missed Jermaine's goal because, in common with many of the Rookery Hornet fans, I was on my way home, in my case not so much a hornet but a bee line to Watford Junction Station.
Two nil and Palace's third away win of the campaign. That's three times as many as we managed all last season and it's only mid-October.
I am looking forward to a visit from Bristol City on Tuesday evening (Oct 18). We are on the cusp of the play-off zone and they are having a bad time, struggling at the bottom of the league.
So that should be an easy three points more. Er, shouldn't it?
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