End of season video reviews are definitely something I miss from my early years as football fan. I have recently reclaimed my old collection of Watford FC videos from my mum’s loft and started reviewing the footage for first time in over a decade. This could be considered a masochistic undertaking as the standard of footbal is often worse than terrible, and genuine highlights are in scarce supply. The early 1990’s was not a great period in Watford’s history, but that’s not the appeal of these tapes. Instead I’m nostalgic for the woeful production and comical commentary.
This was before saturation coverage of football on TV, so simply being able to see footage of Watford’s games and watch replays of goals was something of a novelty. But, even as a twelve year old, I knew the quality was laughably bad.
However, sometimes these videos would throw up something unintentionally memorable. In the case of Watford’s almost disastrous 1990/91 season (narrowly avoiding relegation to Division 3) it was a 3-1 defeat at Bristol Rovers. The footage that had been provided by Rovers featured their own commentary team, as was often the case with these ‘productions’. It seems that each club would distribute footage to other teams and then attempt to stitch all their clips into a coherent package. Throw in some Ceefax graphics and what you’re left with is something resembling what could realistically have been produced as part of a school project, on sale in the club shop for £12.99.
The commentators of each club are partisan, as they should be, but the Bristol guy takes some beating. He ticks all the boxes – over enthusiasm for every pass made by the home team; he’s got his own catch phrase “that is DE-served”; and most important of all, he’s unashamedly biased in his delivery. Have a look at the video below and you’ll see what I mean. You’ll notice a less than subtle change in tone when he’s commentating on Watford’s equaliser (you might also admire the slick approach play from Watford, leading to the award of a penalty). The commentator can barely bring himself to speak (perhaps momentarily stunned into silence by Watford’s tiki-taka short passing game). He needn’t have worried, as Rovers went on to secure victory, quite deservedly so.