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Promotion had been secured but the championship was still up for grabs and Graham Taylor really wanted that trophy. Watford had to win this, their game in hand, to have any chance of overhauling the leaders, Bristol City, on the final day.

It could have been a tense day but for a light-hearted move to enable Steve Palmer to become a record-breaker. In those days before squad numbers were ubiquitous, Palmer had the honour of becoming the only player to wear each of the numbers one to 14 in a season.

All he needed to do was line up in goal, wearing the number one.

‘It was a strange one but it was nice to set a record. For it to count, I had to go on the teamsheet as number one,’ says Palmer. ‘So I went out in Alec’s top and did the warm-up as the goalkeeper.

‘We’d agreed with Bournemouth that whoever won the toss, we’d have the kick-off. So we were relying on Richard Johnson kicking the ball out to allow Alec and I to swap jerseys.’

Chamberlain says: ‘I had won player of the season but I was photographed with the trophy wearing an outfield shirt, which was odd. I didn’t know what to do in the warm-up and it did affect my routine.

‘I had to line up at centre-half. My biggest concern was if Johnno had fallen over, Bournemouth could have attacked and I’d have had to make a tackle on the edge of the box.’

‘When we went 1-0 down early on I thought we’d jinxed ourselves.’

Watford recovered in the second half to win 2-1 and a championship showdown on the Thames was all set.

  In the days before squad numbers at every level, Steve Palmer wore each shirt from 1-14 in 1997-98. It was a feat deemed so peculiar at the time the club produced a jigsaw to mark it.

In the days before squad numbers at every level, Steve Palmer wore each shirt from 1-14 in 1997-98. It was a feat deemed so peculiar at the time the club produced a jigsaw to mark it.

Watford Chamberlain, Bazeley, Kennedy, Palmer, Millen, Mooney, Noel-Williams (Robinson 81), Hyde, Lee, Johnson, Hazan (Slater 45)
Manager Graham Taylor
Scorers Lee 47, Noel-Williams 69
Bournemouth scorer Stein 14
Attendance 12,834

Why was this match chosen? Watford had a chance to win their first piece of silverware for exactly 20 years – but had to win this game to keep the title dream alive. Of course, promotion was already secured so the pressure was off, to an extent, and the gimmick regarding Steve Palmer's shirt lightened proceedings that little bit more. Even going a goal down to a goal scored by a former Luton player failed to spoil the evening.

How do I feel about this game's inclusion now? It was a memorable occasion – a great way to round off the home campaign and to set up one of the greatest days in the club's history. But that's all still to come...

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