After eight years and 269 games, Lloyd Doyley finally scored a goal. What a goal it was too. A diving header that rocketed past the QPR goalkeeper Radek Cerny.
Doyley’s long wait for a goal had become something of a standing joke. He was ribbed by his team-mates about it and the fans urged him to shoot as soon as he crossed the halfway line.
The goal led to a chant ‘We were there when Doyley scored’ and a t-shirt. And it spurred Watford to come from behind to beat QPR.
Rangers had taken the lead through Patrick Agyemang and it looked as if they were going to reach the break with their lead intact.
Just before half-time, Watford had a spell of pressure. The ball was played from the left flank to Don Cowie, who was in space on the right-hand side of the penalty area. The Scot lifted the ball back across the goal with a beautifully-judged first time cross.
Doyley, who had been involved earlier in the move, had continued his run to the edge of the six-yard box, and threw himself at the ball.
It was the perfect Superman-style diving header. ‘I kept going forward and no one really picked me up,’ he says. ‘Don sent over a cross-shot and it was coming straight at me.
‘My first thought was to make good contact with it. I threw myself at it and after I’d headed it, I kept my eyes open so I could watch where it went.
‘It went straight into the net and as I landed on the ground I looked across to make sure I wasn’t offside.
‘Then I heard the cheers. The goal was at the Vicarage Road end, the opposite end to where most of the Watford supporters were, so there was a split-second before they realised it was in. Then another split-second before they realised it was me who’d scored.’
Jay DeMerit was coming back from injury so was on the substitutes’ bench. ‘I saw someone dive in at the far post and it went in,’ he says.
‘Then the crowd went absolutely crazy. It was louder than for a regular goal. We were looking at each other and going “Was that Lloyd? Did Lloyd just score?” I have to admit, I didn’t believe it until they called out his name because I swear, I had never seen Lloyd score in training.’
Doyley confirms that it was the first goal he had ever scored for Watford. ‘I’ve never scored for the junior or reserve teams,’ he says. ‘I’ve scored a few in training,’ he adds, grinning, before qualifying the statement when we say we’ll check up on him.
‘I’ve always been a defender. Even in youth and schools football I was a defender and my job is to stop goals.
‘I used to get some stick for it from the other lads and someone suggested I should take a penalty but they never let me.’
In the dressing room at half-time, everyone slapped him on the back and congratulated him but Doyley says the players soon turned their thoughts to winning the game.
‘It was only 1-1. Scoring a goal was great but I wanted my goal to be in a match we won rather than a draw or a defeat. Everyone was really up for the second half and we played very well.’
Cowie scored Watford’s second but they had to wait until deep into injury time to put the match to bed. The brilliant young midfielder Tom Cleverley, who had dominated Rangers for large spells of the game, found himself with plenty of time and space.
But the game is remembered for being the night Doyley finally broke his duck.
Watford Loach, Mariappa, Doyley, Harley (Severin 82), Cathcart (DeMerit 46), Hodson, Cowie, Cleverley, Eustace, Graham, Ellington (Henderson 57)
Manager Malky Mackay
Scorers Doyley 43, Cowie 56, Cleverley 90
QPR scorer Agyemang 33
Why was this match chosen? For sentimental reasons – purely because of Lloyd Doyley's goal.
How do I feel about this game's inclusion now? Doyley sort of spoiled his record by scoring a second goal for Watford after this book was originally published. He got one in a 2-1 defeat at Bolton shortly after Gianfrano Zola arrived. This victory over QPR is perhaps too high in the ranking now that Doyley's goal is no longer is only one for the club.