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Ex-Watford keeper chooses the three defining moments from his playing days at The Vic

Defining Moments | Tony Coton

LIVERPOOL AWAY IN 1985/86 FA CUP QUARTER-FINAL 

A game I will never forget and probably one of my best performances in a Watford shirt. That Liverpool team in the 1980s was a fantastic side and really blitzing everybody in their sight.

It was the FA Cup Quarter-Final and I don’t think many people gave us a chance, but we managed to go to Anfield, get a 0-0 and I produced one of those performances where everything just comes off. A little bit of luck and skill, and I got all the plaudits.

Things were hitting me and I just seemed to be in the right place at the right time throughout the match. I think it won me Performance of the Season and I still look back on it with good memories.

Even though we ended up losing the replay, it was still special for me to play so well against such a good side and at such an iconic stadium. 

END-OF-SEASON TOUR TO CHINA

A bit of a different one, but I’ll never forget our end-of-season tour to China in 1987. Sir Elton John came along with us and it was just after Graham Taylor had left to join Aston Villa, and before Dave Bassett had come in. I’d broken my thumb but went along on the tour anyway and it’s an experience I’ll never forget.

There were masses of people everywhere we went, mainly to see Elton, and at one point we all had to get on the stage to sing ‘Stand By Me’ with him. He did most of the singing and we just joined in during the chorus, but it was an unforgettable experience nonetheless.

He was there for the whole tour and even joined in some of the five-a-side matches, and I remember Tim Sherwood crunched him in a tackle during one game!

We won the tournament out there and he put an impromptu concert on in the bar at the hotel after the final! Everything about that tour was amazing and having Elton with us made it that bit extra special.

MY RETURN TO VICARAGE ROAD WITH SUNDERLAND 

I left Watford in 1990 to sign for Manchester City but had to wait six years to go back to Vicarage Road and say goodbye to the fans. It was a League Cup match with Sunderland and the reception I got from everybody was a moment I’ll cherish.

I remember walking onto the pitch and I got a massive standing ovation. Fans were even running onto the pitch when I walked towards the Vicarage Road end! It was a very emotional time for me in terms of the way I was treated and the way the fans reacted, and I’m not ashamed to admit I had a lump in my throat.

There was no negativity from me to the fans and vice versa, but it really struck home how much they appreciated me when I went back with Sunderland.

When I got back into the dressing room Peter Reid and the lads even commented, saying they’d never heard a former player get such a reception. Truly special memories, which emphasised the affection I’ve still got for the club. 

Article first published in The Hornet (Watford FC match programme)

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