On a crisp but sunny Saturday, January 24, 1998, two deadly rivals met. The Bees (Brentford FC) and the Hornets (Watford FC).
There was no honey here. The teams' hatred goes back to the 1970s when violence around the pitch was more entertaining than the football match. At Brentford's Griffin Park, west London, police presence was strong in January 1998.
Happily, the event passed without incident. Watford's 2,500 tickets were allocated in full. I couldn't get on their side, and instead stood on the terraces with Mike Goodman and his friends (die-hard Brentford supporters) on the Brentford goal end. A total of 6,800 football fans attended the match. So, sorry I couldn't meet many of you who I know attended from Hercules.
The match opened in earnest with the first goal, by Watford, within five minutes of the game's start. Brentford, which are threatened with relegation to Division 3 while Watford eye Division 1, were left glum and angry. I kept my pleasure to myself! The Watford supporters were in joy.
Within another 20 minutes Brentford equalised. After half-time, Watford took 20 minutes to get ahead, and finished the game with a 2-1 victory. The game put Watford top of Division 2, ahead of rival Bristol City. With playing like that, the 1998 season could end with a definite Watford promotion to Div. 1.
Elton's Watford has also broken a record. As the Brentford programme noted: Watford's defeat of Luton 4-0 on Oct. 4 1997 was the biggest away win for any team in Div. 2 this season.
The match has similarities with the historic match on Feb.24, 1979, when ITV cameras came to Brentford's stadium for the first time in 7 years, and Watford were the league leaders. The teams were led out by Playboy Bunny Girls and over 13,000 spectators came (to see the match!). Despite losing a number of players to Watford's team, Brentford won that match.