Born is the King of Vicarage Road
‘When we got back to the dressing room after the game there was a real belief that we were going to do it,’ says Jay DeMerit.
‘I remember Aidy coming in and saying that everyone was looking at us now. That result was a huge marker in the sand for us.
‘All over the pitch things were going well. There weren’t many better striking partners than Marlon King and Darius Henderson. Ashley Young had matured from this skinny little kid and he could really do some damage. We had James Chambers and Jordan Stewart going forward. Matty Spring and Gavin Mahon hustled everyone.
‘And at the back, Malky and I had got this thing going. He would take the big muscly guy and I’d look after the quicker guy. He had all the experience to organise us well and we were so solid.
‘Sheffield had Ade Akinbiyi up front with Steve Kabba, who had been scoring a lot of goals, but we dominated them. There was this feeling that we were not going to lose too many games.’
The new year had got off to the best possible start, with a 2-1 win at Luton. ‘I came on as a sub,’ says DeMerit. ‘And I was totally fresh behind the ears as far as rivalries were concerned. I didn’t know what local derbies were like. It was fierce but when we won that we went on a run and nothing intimidated us.’
The Blades were second in the table, ten points behind Reading but 11 ahead of Leeds. Watford were third, lurking but unfancied. Neil Warnock’s side were in for a hammering. Chris Eagles scored early on. After 25 minutes United had David Unsworth sent off for pushing Eagles in the face. Even against 10 men, Watford came under heavy pressure but they defended well and administered stinging blows on the counter attack.
Marlon King beat Leigh Bromby to score the second goal before Paul Ifill got one back. King smashed home his second on the turn and Hameur Bouazza seized on another Bromby mistake near the end to make it 4-1. The result may have been a touch flattering but it was a clear signal of intent from the Hornets.
‘Hearing their fans boo them off was a big confidence-booster to us,’ says DeMerit. ‘Because we had gone there with a plan and we made that happen.’
Watford Foster, Doyley, DeMerit, Mackay, Stewart, Eagles (Chambers 45), Spring (Bangura 53), Mahon, Young (Bouazza 77), King, Henderson
Manager Aidy Boothroyd
Scorers Eagles 6, King 47, 69, Bouazza 88
Sheffield United scorer Ifill 58
Why was this match chosen? Watford supporters were probably braced for their side to run out of steam but as spring approached Aidy Boothroyd's side seemed to step up a gear and this result was one that convinced people that promotion might be a possibility.
How do I feel about this game's inclusion now? It deserves its place if only for the fact Neil Warnock was the Blades manager.