This is the prize-winning interview with Del Day, a Watford supporter, in Salut! Sunderland annual HAWAY awards. Del took first place – as you can read here – and has expressed a preference for the £50 voucher from Classic Football Shirts (‘I’ll get that ’89 away shirt for my wife – only kidding, it’s the kit she hates most!’) … bravo Del, and here’s your interview all over again …
These were the prizes: we now await the choice of the second-placed interviewee, Chelsea’s Ray Knight, between the remaining two (the Art of Football print and the WSC subscription)
Salut! Sunderland despite our history of great escapes, we look truly doomed this year. Good riddance or do Sunderland belong in the Premier League?
Del Day: If we go with the simple answer then, yes, absolutely, as long as you get the number of points required to do so. I’m old school; I still remember when football was built on tradition, working class values, dreams, and some sense that anything can be achievable. Leicester’s incredible achievement last year reinforced those ideals but I fear it will be a hell of a long time before we see something like that again. I’ve always had a soft spot for Sunderland, a club that incorporates all those old-school tropes so hope you can pull out of the current situation you find yourselves in.
Watford have had good and bad moments this season – from wins v Man U and at Arsenal to the mauling at Anfield and a home surrender to Spurs you described as a disgrace – but should survive with relative comfort. Have they had you worried at times? And you’ve been as careless with managers as us. Was dumping Flores scandalous or necessary and how do you rate Walter Mazzarri?
You are probably asking the wrong guy here as I’m still of the opinion we should have kept Sean Dyche! Since then the manager’s hot seat has worn leather and broken wheels due to the ridiculous level of use! Pozzo’s rotating door policy has been both baffling and, at times, infuriating.
Flores did a great job, with the help of Deeney and Ighalo banging in goals early in the season. It fizzled out toward the end of his reign and I’m not entirely sure he ever had a plan B but I would have given him another season for sure. It’s a tough one as I really have never been totally clear what Mazzarri is actually trying to do. I’m not sure he has a plan A! Or if he has its very hard to see exactly how he wants us to play. He’s forever chopping and changing and really has never found an answer to the now departed Ighalo’s complete and utter lack of form. I guess the answer was a £20m offload. I’ve been worried many times this season – worried that Tottenham were gonna score 10 past us at home; worried that Deeney might have gone to Arsenal and left us rudderless on the pitch; worried that I’ll never get my Band A away level allocation again after giving up my season ticket – but overall I think its been what I expected, a hard fight for every point.
And if not already covered in that answer, is Gino Pozzo good for the club or a loose cannon?
Overall there is no doubt Gino has been very good for the club. For every manager gone there has been a constant strengthening of the ties with the fans and the local community, the ground has been improved no end and his attitude has always been positive and upbeat. We will always be grateful to the Pozzo’s for bailing us out of the Bassini mess..
Are you happy with Vicarage Road despite its obvious limitations or would you be seriously excited, despite the nostalgia, if the club had greater ambition and looked for a Premier-sized ground?
I love Vicarage Road and never want to change it. We are a small, family club that is more than happy with the size it is. Let’s be honest our real hardcore support is around 10–12,000. The rest are there at the moment because we are doing well. That never lasts, being a Watford fan is a transient business, its either great or it’s awful. The ground is more than capable of fulfilling the needs of success and failure.
And tell us what Graham Taylor means to you as a Watford supporter
Taylor WAS Watford FC as far as I am concerned. I started going in ’78 and Taylor has always been synonymous with everything we have achieved as a club. The man is a legend, in the truest sense, and his legacy will remain as the beating heart of our club forever more. I cried when I heard the news, that’s how much he means to me. Both my daughters have Taylor as a middle name. I wanted Blissett but the wife kyboshed that idea.
Deeney and our much-missed Kaboul got the goals at the Emirates and only Capoue apart from Deeney has seemed up for scoring, with Ighalo not managing one in 14 starts before he scarpered to China. Who has shone for you and where are the glaring gaps?
I can’t help feeling that we should have let Ighalo go ages back and look to push Deeney rght up top and bring someone in to play off him a bit more. We’ve brought in likes of Success, Niang ad Okaka so I’m hoping one of them will be able to forge a decent partnership with Deeney. I think Gomez has been great again this season, despite a few slip ups, Holebas has improved, albeit slowly, and I’ve always seen something in Amrabat when he has played which hasn’t been enough if truth be told. I’m hoping Capoue can return to something like the form he was in at start of season for the remainder of the games.
Luther Blissett and Ross Jenkins: the best you’ve seen in Watford colours?
The Dons! Loved those guys. My favourite players over the years include Tommy Mooney, Alan Nielson, and the old Italian warhorse Fillipo Galli. Man, he was awesome. Barely moved more than a yard but swept up everything at the back at ripe old age of 65, or something like that.
And who should have been allowed nowhere near Vicarage Road?
Mick Quinn was actually nailed to the floor when he came to Watford on a loan spell. My seat became a “restricted view” one due to his bulk. And lets not forget Ramon Vega. Jesus, that guy basically epitomised everything about Vialli’s reign – over paid, under achieving mercenary.
Your best and worst moments as a Watford fan?
Well there have been many in both departments. My best moment was the playoff game against Leicester when Almunia saved the penalty only for us to go straight back down the other end and score. I find it hard to even think about it now without welling up. It was carnage. The euphoria of the save was at full height and then add the goal on top, jeez. I nearly exploded. Ive never felt emotion like it, ever. Worst moment? Hearing Taylor had died. Nothing on the pitch comes close. It’s all perspective.
What about Sunderland? Did you see our nightmare coming? Any thought on the club, the fans, the North East, Moyes?
Something needs to change up there, surely? You seem to be in a recurring nightmare every season and this looks to be one that will end in relegation. I think there must be something very deep rooted in the very fabric of the club that isn’t right. I felt Moyes might have been able to turn it around but it appears he’s in the same boat. Bar a last minute run of wins, which doesn’t appear to be coming anytime soon, I fear its Championship for you guys end of season.
Looking back, did you spot Kevin Phillips’s potential? I recall wondering if Peter Reid had bought the wrong Watford striker by mistake since Connolly seemed the star at the time.
I don’t think you could have missed his potential. He was a class act for us, knew exactly where the goal was and never looked in any way out of his depth with the step up from non-league football. I was extremely gutted to see him go at the time, as he was one of the best strikers I’ve seen at Watford over the years. Connolly was the young pretender, he came into the side when Phillips was injured I seem to recall and hit the gound running. Again, he had an eye for goal but a bit of a temperament to match. He only really played a handful of games for us but made such an impact that it seems like more. He didn’t leave us on best terms.
Chamberlain, Poom and – in a bit-part way – Costel are keepers who’ve played for both, Connolly came eventually and there are mutual links with Colin West,Wilf Rostron, Danny Rose and Nyron. Any stand-out memories?
Chamberlain and Rostron are Watford legends, no doubt about that. We’ve been really lucky over the years to have some great keepers and Alec was one of the best both in terms of ability and attitude. Wilf, who I think we signed from you guys as a winger but turned into a great left back for us, will always be remembered at Watford for missing out on the cup final in ’83 due to a booking. I still feel sorry for him even now. Colin West is worthy of a mention for that haircut alone!
You have your own version of the north/south divide, feeling OK about clubs north of the river but disliking those south. Explain!
Well, we seem to have a bit of a rivalry with Palace at the moment. What with Luton off the radar for years we needed someone to focus on I guess. My big games are always against QPR, more because my best mate is a Hoops fan and to us it’s the cup final every time we play. I despise Chelsea too so I guess my beef is more with the West.
Give us the final top four and bottom three
Top four – Chelsea, Man City, Tottenham and Arsenal.
Bottom 3 – Sunderland (sorry!), Boro and Hull.
Diving: they’re all at it so do we just give up and coach our players to cheat more effectively? Or still worth trying to eradicate?
It NEEDS to be eradicated but until the FA grow some balls and put a coherent strategy in place with punishments that actually hurt the clubs I fear it will just continue. It doesn’t help with ex pros condoning it all the time as simply part of the game. It ain’t. It’s cheating. Full stop.
Best ref, worst ref?
Best ref has to be Collina. Them eyes, man. Worst is Roger Mitford who sent off Rostron at Luton which led to him missing the Cup Final. See, I told you I held a grudge!
Will you be at our game? What will be the score?
I’ll be in a recording studio so won’t be there but will be keeping up to date on the game via radio. I’m going for a scrappy 1-0 Watford win.
* Del Day on himself: My name’s Del Day and I run an independent music PR company, Ark PR, a small boutique booking agency, Big City Lights, and a record label, Maiden Voyage Recording Company with my good friend Danny Wilson.I started supporting Watford in ’77 when my dad brought me home a yellow and black kit. I looked up in my Subbuteo catalogue and the two teams it could be were Wolves and Watford. I realised I was a 306 bus ride from Watford so that was that. I’ve had two spells as season ticket holder at both ends of the ground although currently based down in Sussex so getting to games these days is a little trickier and less frequent. In those 39 years I have experienced pretty much everything I could hope (or fear) supporting what is a wonderful family club – promotions, relegations, near financial ruin, and everything in between. It’s been one hell of a journey.
Interview: Colin Randall