This Time For Africa
by, 12-10-2011 at 09:57 PM (2642 Views)
As soon as I found out Ghana vs Nigeria would be held at Vicarage Road I knew I wanted to go. I was at Wembley when Ghana played England and some of the noise they generated was fantastic, if a little strange. Obviously it had to be rearranged due to the riots in London at the time but I was still adamant I would go and didn’t return my tickets.
On my walk to the ground it certainly didn’t feel right. As usual I stopped off at Ebb-Tide Fish & Chips to get large chips with a battered sausage, £3.15, but the strange thing was, it was match day but there was no queue out the door, I strolled in, ordered and got my food (which was actually a slightly larger portion, I’m sure that they give smaller portions when Watford are playing) and walked my usual way to the ground. No stream of supporters walking up ‘The Hornets’, the away fans in ‘The Oddfellows’ pub garden and no fat northerner outside it in his replica shirt, it didn’t feel right. As I walked onto Vicarage Road it felt more like a football match but certainly not a Watford one. No queue outside Fry Days as I smirked that I’d already got mine while people waited at a worse Chippy in my opinion. Instead there were stalls selling Ghana – Nigeria scarves, still with the Original date on which made me s****** a little. They were also selling Flags, whistles, and yes, it’s back. The Vuvuzela. The instrument that was far from music to the ears of the majority of football fans across the globe in the 2010 World Cup. Bought myself a programme for only a £1 as it is sure to become a bit of a collector’s item, I can’t see it happening too often!
Plenty of people seemed to be buying their tickets on the day and I’m glad I bought mine what turned out to be months before as there was still people arriving 30 minutes into the game. I turned off Vicarage Road and walked down Occupation Road and it certainly didn’t feel right, no Watford Dave screaming ‘Programmes!’ and no ‘Harry’s 50/50!’ whispered by the teenager who doesn’t really seem to care if people buy them or not. Turned down what is now known as ‘Stadium Way’ and what struck me most was the large amount of litter surrounding the turnstiles, as there was plenty of people handing out free wristbands and hats and the plastic packaging was just chucked on the floor, it wasn’t very ‘Watford-y’. Everyone was cramming in the first turnstiles that you meet at The Rookery so cleverly walked along to the South-West corner turnstiles to avoid the queues and made my way to my seat. I could already hear the noise that was being made and it was deafening, but what struck me most was when I walked up the steps to the upper concourse of The Rookery was the emptiness of the vBar. As I walked in I was the only person present in the whole bar, a very strange thing to see ten minutes before kick-off, and there was plenty of bar-staff there, with nobody to serve. No Sky Sports News on the screens and the general chatter over whether Deeney is a striker or a winger and a strange place to be.
Made my way to my seats just before kick-off and it was already a real carnival atmosphere, something unheard of at Vicarage Road. The teams came out and both sets of fans were going crazy, screaming, blowing their whistles and Vuvuzelas, just because they’d seen their national heroes. The game started off at a very quick tempo, and instead of a ripple of applause after a cool pass from centre back or a good tackle there would be a large number of fans jumping up screaming when their team didn’t something that you expect from them, such as a 10 yard pass. It happened over and over, every time the ball went anywhere near the goal and when the Ghanaian striker was through and goal and tried to go past him he went down, as the Referee pointed for a goal kick, when it was clearly not a penalty, all the Ghanaian supporters seem to believe him signalling for a goal kick was signalling for a penalty and in turn went extra crazy, and it took them a while to realise that it was not in fact a penalty and plenty of supporters looked confused.
Then quite far into the game what seemed to be Ghanaian version of the England band at Wembley turned up and walked across the South-West Corner Walkway and into the Lower-Rous, now the party really started. They had Drums, trumpeters, whistles, plenty of clapping and singing along with lots of colourful support accompanying them and as the game went on lots of supporters went and joined them, and just seemed to dance along the front of the Lower Rous instead of watching the game, and I couldn’t help thinking what would’ve happened if The Yellow Order had done something similar.
The first half came to an end and there was no real chances other than Nigeria hitting the cross bar with a long range effort. I thought at least it would quieten down at half time but no, they carried on and the noise if anything got louder and I was very impressed with the drummers in fact. Second half I decided to move to the Upper Rous which while still being able to hear the party atmosphere allowed me, as a Neutral to focus on the game of football. I’ve never sat in the Upper Rous before and this was a strange thing for me, I had a fantastic view of the whole pitch, but it didn’t feel right. I missed my seat in the Rookery. As the second half began, Asamoah Gyan came on for Ghana and he was treated as some sort of God, as massive reception for the former Sunderland striker who has recently moved to the United Arab Emirates, as clearly they have a massive league out there, with heaps of quality players playing in.
I can’t remember too much happening second half, and it was very similar to the first, no real chances, but played at a very high tempo the game came to a close and as a game of football it was not the best, had 0-0 written all over it, but it was an experience I’ll never forget. I don’t think I’d want it like that every week at Watford, but I’d love to see similar event at Vicarage Road again. I don’t think I could handle the screaming every time the ball went anywhere near the goal, it seemed to remind of playing in Under Nine’s and the Mum’s would be standing on the sidelines screaming ‘KICK IT!’, ‘SCORE, SHOOT!’ every time their son went near the ball. The game made me realise what little things we do as Watford fans that I don’t even notice anymore, the little shortcut alleyway along Occupation Road, walking along The Hornets and I can’t wait to get back to the Vic for Palace on Saturday.