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Last weekend, I attended a charity game at Berkhamsted FC. This provided quite a sobering experience as a guy near me pointed to John Barnes and said to his young boy, ďSee that fat bloke. He was a legend.Ē I was hit by the realisation that the little lad just saw a fat old man and would never see the genius that he was in his youth. It has to be said that Johnny Barnes isnít alone in having considerably increased his girth over the interim. A number of the other players of a similar vintage, as well as many of us in the crowd, are nowhere near our fighting weights.
The next day, I went to Vicarage Road for the last game of the season and there was an old bloke in goal who put all of us to shame. Iíd gone to Watford with my nieces who were a similar age to the young lad at the Berko game and they were lucky enough to see a legend in action.
Alec has performed admirably for the Horns over the past nine years, seeing off many pretenders to his place as first choice goalkeeper. He now has a worthy rival in Richard Lee. Iíve been to a couple of reserve games this season when Alec has played and Richard has sat in the Rookery observing (and gently chiding) his mentor, and it is clear from the interactions the mutual respect that exists between them. And also how much Richard has learnt from Alec. Alec works incredibly hard, does not take his position for granted and is gracious in his interactions both on and off the pitch. Richard could not have had a better example to learn from.
After the West Ham game, we went out for dinner for my nieceís birthday, and who should be seated at the next table but Alec and his family. After they had finished eating, I sent the nieces over to get an autograph and Alec wrote lovely personalised messages in their programmes and made a couple of young fansí days (as well as that of their old aunt).
In these days of spoiled petulant footballers, it is nice to see a decent man like Alec Chamberlain showing the youngsters how it should be done. His legacy will live on at Watford way beyond his playing days.
Thank you Alec and enjoy your testimonial season. It is very well deserved.