Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Not All Journeys Are The Same.

Here I am.

Missing the buzz of looking forward to the next Watford game already and not a lot going on in WFC related news, either (although I do see some Vydra stories emerging).

Perhaps time to tell you a bit more about myself?

Ahhh, go on then!

Born in the early 70's, in North London, I raised myself an Arsenal fan.

Having been born into a Tottenham supporting household and taking into consideration the period of Liverpudlian dominance that occurred during my formative school years, the late 70's and early 80's, it may have seemed a strange choice to some but Arsenal had the one thing the other two did not, at the moment I made my decision.....

Goalkeeper Pat Jennings.

Pat was my hero as a budding young 'keeper myself and for me, the greatest keeper to have ever walked the earth and yes! Pat having played 48 games for his first English club, Watford FC, in the early 1960's, was my first tentative link to the club that I would become so attached to many years later.

My Dad was (and still is, in my eyes) a legend. Taking me to Arsenal games as a staunch Tottenham man must have made him die inside a fair bit but perhaps the pain was lessened somewhat, knowing that my initial motivation was Big Pat, who was also a Spurs legend. So much of a hero in fact, that Tottenham fans, in general, held no animosity toward him following his switch to The Gunners. It is testament to the man that he is idolised by both sets of fans and is welcomed at both clubs, to this day.

Once at secondary school, my Dad was relieved of the burden of having to take me and I went to Highbury fairly regularly with a group of school mates. We insisted on standing on the North Bank but actually saw very little football (due to our size and the mass of swaying bodies surrounding us), which was probably not a bad thing, as Arsenal were dire in the mid 80's.

Back then, Watford, under the stewardship of Graham Taylor, had captured the football nation's attention via their meteoric rise through the leagues, to finish runners up to Liverpool in their first season in the top flight at the end of the 1982/83 season. This was not lost on me and The Hornet's number 1 at the time, Steve Sherwood was added to the shortlist of 'keepers that I admired and tried to emulate.

A little later, during the late 80's and early 90's, a combination of working in Hertfordshire and the fact my Aunt and Uncle moved to Garston and had become Watford regulars, with their three young kids often being match day mascots at The Vic, meant I was quite often popping over to see Watford play on a Saturday afternoon.

Eventually, the tentative link was to become a permanent one and in May 2003 myself, my wife and my son became Watford residents ourselves and a move to the area naturally increased my interest in the football club.

I've always held the belief that it is a very good thing to support your local team and I also believe that although, as a child, I had chosen Arsenal over my father's team, the fact that I had been a North London lad, supporting a North London team, meant that he could not use the 'support your local team' argument against me and had to respect my decision. For the record, I still hold Arsenal in high esteem and will be cheering them on from my sofa, in the forthcoming FA Cup Final. I'm not going to airbrush out my relationship with The Gunners. I have formed many great friendships throughout my life with Arsenal people and they are forever in my heart.

My son, was only a 17 months old when we moved to Hertfordshire. As he grew and when it was clear that he had inherited my love of football, visits to Arsenal and Watford followed.

My boy is a budding goalkeeper and as he developed both as a person and as a footballer, it became clear that Watford FC above Arsenal was the club for him. He is a Watford lad, not born, but certainly bred and I am proud that he has chosen his local club to support.

As he has grown into Watford, he has taken me with him and I have been a very willing passenger, given the subtle ties I had already formed with the club over time.

Ultimately, addiction has blighted much of my adult life but happily, Watford FC, has been a key component in my recovery, particularly in the rebuilding of the relationship with my son, that had been somewhat damaged by what I call my illness and what some may see as reckless lifestyle choices.

We have been regulars at the Vic for the past six seasons and became season ticket holders as soon as it was apparent that we were in this was for the long haul.

You can think what you want of how I came to be a full time time, paid up member of the family we call Watford Football Club. The bottom line is, I will be around, probably till my dying day. I'm not a glory hunter, swapping one team for another with great regularity. Finding the place I wanted to be in football supporting terms (hell, in terms of life in general), just took a bloody long time. I've made sure that I've not only given the team unswerving support these past years but have acquainted myself generously with the history of this fantastic institution.

I have raised and will continue to raise a lad who will support his local football team, hopefully for the rest of his life and one day, God willing, his children will become Watford fans themselves, or perhaps fans of whoever are the local team where they live, should life sweep my boy up out of Watford and plant him somewhere different.

Watford FC has become a huge part of my life. Myself and my son attend every home game and many away fixtures and whilst I am fanatical in my support and follow what is going on both on and off the pitch religiously, I have managed to balance that with the repair and growth of relationships with my son, my wife and my friends and family.

It would seem that Watford and I were destined for one another.

I feel like I belong.

In fact, I know I belong and I can't wait to see where the Watford story takes us next.

Thanks for reading.


Tweet @hoganwatford


  1. Lovely blogging, fella. Get the vibe it's been one hell of a journey.

  2. Well done Paul. A great read, Cheers,

  3. How you got here is interesting and there's obviously more to it but the above is an interesting synopsis. Really enjoying your blogs. Keep up the good work.

  4. Keep on keeping on. You 'orns!!!!!

  5. Good read. The Arsenal to Watford transition is perhaps not as rare as you may think. My Dad moved from North London to Watford 30 odd years ago, having watched Arsenal as a young man. He's been a wfc season ticket holder for 29 years!