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Why I Love Football - Dougie Brimson

Tuesday 14th February 2012
It started with a cold night at Vicarage Road back in 1969; so miserable that it caused our guest to turn his back on football for a few years in favour of speedway and stock car racing, yet 14 years later he would be driving an old Alfa Romeo to Kaiserslautern with his brother and two mates to watch his beloved Hornets in the UEFA Cup.

This latest Why I Love Football comes from Watford fan and best-selling author Dougie Brimson who offers us his thoughts and memories of the beautiful game.

Who do you support?

I'm a first generation Watford supporter. I say that because by rights I should have been a third generation Spurs fan as my dad was born within earshot of White Hart Lane and used to go to all the home games in his youth. Often with his own father and brothers.
Watford fan and best-selling author Dougie Brimson
Watford fan and best-selling author Dougie Brimson
However, he never understood the simple rule of fandom which states that as a father, your son only has to follow in your supporting footsteps if you actually bother to take him to at least one game! Despite numerous requests my old man never did this and as a result, and as the rules clearly state, I was free to choose my own team. And so after a brief dalliance watching Chelsea at the Bridge which ended when (ironically) I got tired of running the gauntlet of various hooligan mobs at Euston Station every weekend, I went to watch my local side and fell in love with the glorious Hornets.

What was your first football game?

It was actually my dad who took me to my first ever game which funnily enough was at Vicarage Road. March 1st, 1969, Watford v Bristol Rovers. A very drab 1-1 draw which I only really remember for the Rovers kit and the fact that it was cold and miserable.

In fact so unimpressed was I that I didn't really show any interest in attending football for a while after that. Instead, I became immersed in the worlds of stock car racing and speedway thanks to various neighbours who attended meetings most weekends and took me with them.

It was chance trip to Stamford Bridge with my mate Clive when I was about 13 which reignited my passion for the live game a couple of years later.

Best game you've seen live and why?

Oh my god.... where do I start with that? Watford have been involved in so many incredible games over the years and I've been lucky enough to have been at many of them. Stand outs; the 8-0 win over Sunderland, winning at both Arsenal and Spurs, the two play off victories and of course the 4-0 win at L*t*n in 1997. Then there's the FA cup win at Birmingham when John Barnes scored that goal, the FA Cup semi-final against Plymouth and even the game at Wembley when Luther Blissett became the first ever black player to score a hat-trick for England. The latter being the only game which genuinely brought tears to my eyes.

But if I had to pick just one then it would have to be the second-leg of the UEFA cup tie against Kaiserslautern in 1983. The fact it came on the back of our greatest ever season and was our first ever European involvement had everyone at the club buzzing and so loads of us decided to make the trip out to Germany to see it live.

For some reason which still escapes me, I actually drove out in my old Alfa Romeo with my brother and two mates but to say we had a laugh would be an understatement. Not even the fact that we lost 3-1 spoiled the trip as we knew it was only half-time and the night of the second-leg at the Vic saw possibly the greatest ever atmosphere at the ground. It was an amazing night culminating in a 3-0 win and the aggregate victory we never doubted we would secure.

Thanks to the wonder of YouTube, I can re-live that unforgettable night any time I like.

Best player you've seen live and why?

I get asked this question a lot and the answer is always the same and it's always instantaneous; Luther Bissett.

Now I know some people will scoff at that but the fact is that for me ‘best' doesn't simply mean greatest. If it did, then Cantona would be decades ahead of any other player I've seen live with only Ronaldo and Beckham close to keeping him company.

But for me Blissett encapsulates everything I've ever loved in a footballer. Not just because he was a great goal scorer and was a key figure in the greatest period of my supporting life, but because he was a grafter. I've seen Luther play more times than I care to remember and in all that time I don't think I've ever seen him put in anything less that 100%. I actually saw him play a game on our local playing fields a few years ago and he was exactly the same!

The fact that fans of every club he ever played for continue to hold him in such high regard is testimony to the man and his ability. Legend.

Finally, why do you love football?

The million dollar question. Oddly enough, I'm not overly keen on the game itself. I've never been one of those people who can sit in front of the TV watching endless European games involving sides whose names I can barely pronounce nor do I even watch Match of the Day very often. To be honest, if the Hornets aren't playing I don't really care.

That in essence provides my answer. When it comes to the game itself, football for me is about Watford. We have history you see. They're like a family member who you love with a passion and want only the best for even though they piss you off and break your heart sometimes.

Off the pitch is a different matter because I adore the sense of occasion football provides be it in the ground or outside. The fact it generates such passion in people is an endless source of amazement to me but thank goodness it does. It's how I earn my living!

Dougie Brimson has written numerous football related books the majority of which are available to download via Amazon or iTunes. He also wrote the critically acclaimed short movie It's a Casual Life and the multi-award winning feature film Green Street. He is currently working on a new comedy novel based around a small football club.

Full details of all his work including his latest comedy book, The Art of Fart, can be found at www.dougiebrimson.com

Follow him on twitter; @dougiebrimson

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