Thursday, 27 August 2009

He Hits The Ball and Scores A Goal...

We all knew that a Tommy Smith's transfer was coming, and the full story of the "Tommy Smith Leaving Watford" saga has been documented by the Watford Observer. As fans we would have loved for him to stay, but understand the money situation. The nice part is that he never said he was after a transfer and in the first few games of this season he's certainly played like a player wanting to play for the club. He has been a great player for us and if he ever returns to Vicarage Road we will give him a huge clap and sing his name.

It did seem like it was going to be an average transfer with Watford eventually coming to an agreement with another club. That was until Tuesday when a final 11th hour twist made it such an interesting story.

Firstly because of how our Chairman - who we at From The Rookery End are becoming major fans of - has played the last week. It seems Jimmy Russo not only did a great job of holding out for the right money, but he also may have used the media to bring Portsmouth into the situation at the last minute. The only thing he did that seemed a little unfair was on Tuesday when Watford gave Tommy the final choice of where he wanted to go. If he had picked Reading then maybe we wouldn't have welcomed him back so warmly.

The other point of interest is that Tommy chose Portsmouth over Reading. To some his choice might have been strange with Portsmouth tipped to go down and Reading tipped to challenge for promotion. He might have got a reunion with Brendan Rodgers, but I would have always picked Pompey. Here's why...

Premier League NOW: He gets to play in the Premier League now. So no matter what happens to Portsmouth he gets to show off his skills and cement himself as a Premier League player this season. He's not going to get many more chances to play in the Premier League - Reading are only a might be Premier League club.

4 Year Contract: Tommy is 29 and his next contract would have been his last big money even if it was at Watford. When his Portsmouth contract runs out he'll be 33. He should be fit to play for a few more years, but it won't be at the best money of his career.

Better Wages NOW: I'm sure his wages at Pompey are better then the ones he would have got at Reading this season. I'm sure he would have got Premier League money IF Reading got promotion, but with his lack of years left, he needs to earn his money while he can.

Good luck to you Tommy, you deserve to play in the Premier League, we only wish it was with Watford. Thanks for embrassing Rodgers with not turning up for the press conference on Tuesday it will make our encounters this season a lot easier no matter what happens in the games. Your a star!

Oh and make sure you keep Portsmouth up... there might be another £200k in it for us!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

A night in the life of football fan.

There is generally one thing you can be sure of on a busy night of sport. Contrasting emotions. Yesterday was no different.

Come with me if you will through an evening in the muddled mind of yours truly...

Time: 5:25 Emotion: Disappointment. The radio reports that England ladies have gone 2-1 down in their Euro 2009 curtain raiser. They are also down to 10 after a dodgy dive in the 1st half from the Italian striker. Who says the ladies aren't as good as the men? They can con the refs with the best of them...England go on to l0se the game.

I think it is also worth noting the flippant way in which this game was covered. Tired cliche's about the women's game were lamely trotted out and the piece descended into pathetic laddish jokes. Having said that, I guess I get what I deserve if I listen to talkSPORT.

Time: 6:10pm Emotion: Excitement. I'm home, I see my 8 month old daughter for the first time since 7:30am and Watford are playing tonight. I know I am supposed to be all grown up and sensible, but nothing can replace the sense of anticipation that rumbles and grows in your belly ahead of your team kicking off. What will the team be? Who will score? What will happen? No-one ruddy knows and it's brilliant! Even guessing the attendance is a cause for childlike excitement...

Time: 7:14 Emotion: Bewilderment. BBC 3 Counties Radio draw my attention to the fact that Watford have accepted a bid for Tommy Smith from Portsmouth. Just when this saga looked like reaching a conclusion, there is yet another twist, and for Tommy all roads lead to the South Coast and another tilt at the Premiership.

I have to confess, this news put a broad grin on my face. I have nothing against Reading fans, in fact I feel hugely sorry for them - this episode must have been annoying for them as it has been us, but I still have minor issues with their boss.

If I'm honest, the thought of the assembled local press watching on whilst Brendan Rodgers smile slowly slips from his face as he hears the news "Tommy Smith is having a medical at Portsmouth..." fills me with mischievous delight.

Time: 7:20 Emotion: Sadness.News filters through about "large scale unrest" ahead of the West Ham United V Millwall cup tie. Not entirely unexpected, but saddening nonetheless. I have a daughter that I want to take to football soon. We don't need this.

Time 8:30 Emotion: Cautious Optimism. Half time at Elland Road and Watford are behind. 1-0. The commentary suggests we are playing well though, and for once, I am not completely resigned to defeat. You see, for all my excitment before a game, once it gets underway I am the most frightful pessimist. Those who have read Adrian Chiles book will know what I mean - I'm just like him. I think it was the great Graham Taylor who once summed up our plight so perfectly - "For a football fan, there is nothing so dangerous as hope..."

Time: 9:27 Emotion: Pure unadulterated delight. Watford youngster Marvin Sordell equalises for the mighty Hornets. Anyone watching at this time would have been treated to the sight of me dancing round the living room and kitchen in an excited style that can only be described as a cross between punk and breakdancing. One of these days I'll put my back out. It will be worth it though.

The game goes to extra time and my long suffering girlfriend just about manages to conceal her annoyance that she now has to endure another 30 minutes of me prowling around like a cat on a hot tin roof.

Time: 10:00 Emotion: Disgust. Footage from the West Ham game starts to appear on the TV. Deeply unpleasant both inside and outside the ground. My mind starts to wander as to how the media will portray this. The obvious link will be to any harm done to our 2018 bid.

In many ways the media coverage of events like this are as unsavoury as the unrest itself, but we really can't avoid the fact that what was unfolding was pretty ugly and totally inexcusable. Have these people no shame?

On the plus side, there seems to be some pretty clear footage, so tracking down many of the protagonists should be fairly straightforward.

Time: 10:10 Emotion: Despondancy. Leeds United grab a second goal in extra time, and there is no way back for Watford. Leeds 2 Watford 1, and we are out of the Carling Cup. A competition we were unliklely to win, but a loss is a loss, and every onse hurts. The excitment of earlier in the evening is a dim and distant memory.

So, my evening  started with disappointment and ended with despondancy. Looking at it that way, it may be hard to see why so many of us devote so many of our emotional and financial resources to following sport.  However, as we all know, if someone has to ask the question  "why do you do it? What's the attraction?" then they are unlikely to ever fully understand the answer.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Watford 2-2 Blackpool

(He hits the ball and scores a goal, Tommy, Tommy Smith)

I left Vicarage Road both disappointed and satisfied all at the same time. It's one of those weird feelings you can have as a football fan. Let's get the disappointment out the way first. It came from the final score line - Watford 2-2 Blackpool. With Watford going a head twice in the game we gifted Blackpool their goals. They were never a 'danger' but Watford switched off for periods. Firstly when a corner that gave them the 1st goal and we didn't close them down in the penalty area for their 2nd goal.

However, this disappointment seems to be short term and fixable. My satisfaction should be long term. I hope to see Watford play as well as they did, maybe even better. They deserved the win because, as Jason said in our Micro-podcast, we were looking like a team playing together for the first time. There was some fantastic movement and the number of opportunities in front of goal seems to have increased immensely from previous games. A few better placed balls and we'll be scoring for fun... okay maybe not that well. I find nothing more pleasurable when watching football when a team are passing a ball around how they want. Watford were doing this with regularity on Saturday. Part of that has to be down to new loanee Tom Cleverly. On several occasions he was in the right place to distribute the ball and continue a move and give us more chances of goals. His other big role was as goal scorer when he scored his 2nd goal in two games.

It was good to read on the Watford FC site that like me Malky was optimistic after the performance and disappointed with how we gifted them two goals. See the goals for yourself on the BBC iplayer (direct link to goals)

The other, and probably biggest, satisfaction of the day was seeing Tommy Smith score, what could be his final Watford goal. Not only did he score the first but he made the second. It was great to be able to give him once final sing and

This is better football from Watford. Malky seems to have sorted out his system and it's starting to work on the pitch. The other feeling I left the match with was one of unsettlement. Tommy plays such a big part in Watford's goals and I do wonder how we will play/change when he's gone. The longer he stays the more we can get out of him, but the longer he does the Watford team of this season won't have time to settle.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Watford fan WAGS

A fellow Watford FC blogger Rookery Mike posted his thoughts on the Tommy Smith transfer saga that has been hanging over our heads for most of the summer. I got to feeling like I was breaking up with a girlfriend. Then I thought about relationships we fans have with our Footballers, Managers and Chairman and how they're very much like the one we have with our real life girlfriends. The relationships are often great to begin well and we put up with some of the little problems early on. We have good times and it's bad times and some of those little problems can develop into bigger ones. But whatever happens when we are together we are loyal to one another, most of the time.

So lets have a look at some of our current and recent girlfriends...

Jimmy Russo - The Returned girlfriend
One of those girls who will organise everything so you don't have to do much. There are occasions when you'd want to take over and organise things, but they just won't have it. With girls like this all you can really ask for is for them to tell you truthfully what is going on and what they are doing. At least make you think that you are part the relationship and so you feel secure in what they are doing. Last week I blogged about Russo's interview with BBC 3 Counties Radio and how I think his openness is helping fans like me and Rookery Mike to have an attitude of 'acceptance' in our current financial situation. This relationship will continue to be a good one as long as he tells us what is going on.

Brendan Rodgers - Rebound Girlfriend
As a girlfriend Brendan was the first one after a break up with a long term girlfriend. He had his heart elsewhere and he came into a situation that wasn't great and was rocky from the start. What hurt the most was the lies. At least what as Watford fans we perceive as lies. He passes messages to us through a mouthy friend (the media). He'd say one thing, do something else. Brendan all we wanted from you was the truth, good or bad. It was a short relationship that ended very badly and when we see her out on the town next time we won't be pleasant to one another.

Tamas Priskin - Too much
Man could Tamas be an amazing girlfriend. Some real wow moments and feelings of absolute jubilation. But he was a girlfriend who always wanted to more, and there is nothing wrong with that. We both knew that if things kept going it could get ugly and we knew we had fun while it lasted. Tamas didn't go around talking to mouthy friends about us. It just would have been nice if you weren't so obvious with the desire to get a new boyfriend.

Tommy Smith - A True Love
We both know that it's time for things to end. It's been a blast and this break up will be for the better for both of us. We've acted decently to each over the last few months of the relationship. We've cheered his name, he's continued to play hard on the pitch and not discuss our relationship with that mouthy friend. Tommy will always have a place in our hearts and that's why when we see him again we will wave and say hello.

I know in today's world of football very few manager and players have close and deep ties with fans. They aren't around long enough to become as loyal as we the fans are. All we ask for a truthful girlfriend and one that will act in a dignified way. Just be open with us and tell us what's going on and how you're feeling.

We'll certainly tell you when things are going great and when aren't going so well.

Tommy Smith and other animals

I'm a bit older now. A bit calmer. I don't swear quite as much at match officials, and my goal celebrations are slightly less enthusiastic than they once were. Even Neil Warnock doesn't wind me up that much any more.

So, with my new found sense of calm, I have been quite proud of the sanguine way in which I have accepted Watford's current financial plight. Despite the never ending tales of black holes in accounts and player departures, I have continually been able to find the positives and maintain some sort of optimistic excitment.

Even now, as the Tommy Smith saga looks to be drawing to a long overdue conclusion (1.8million toReading is the latest) I am hopeful that we'll be able to plug the gap somehow.

It's the thought of his unveileing at the Madjeski Stadium press conference that sees me regress into an angry young man. The thought of his smug face, grinning for the cameras as he puts his arm round our Tommy Smith.

I don't blame Tommy, he'll be on more cash, and I don't blame the board as we need the money too. It's just a shame it had to be Reading. It's a shame it had to be him.After considering this saga though, it occurs to me that in this age of super rich footballers, distant, aloof and detached from both reality and us fans,  it isn't actually that hard to keep the public on your side.

Take our friend Mr Rodgers. His comments before leaving for Reading were just hopeless. His talk of integrity blown wide apart by his tastelessly hasty departure up the M4. At best his words were ill advised, at worst they made him a bare faced liar. Watford fans, while not entriely surprised, rightly seethe.

Weeks later he opens his mouth again, to proclaim that "Tommy wants to join us". Presumably it was only after this quote hit the press he realised he isn't allowed to talk to contracted players without permission.

Two examples of opening mouth before engaging brain.

Now we all know that Smith has been the subject of transfer speculation for some time now. But what has Tommy done? Tried to engineer a move through the media? No. Discussed it in public? No. He has kept quiet, and it is for this reason that when he returns to Vicarage Road in a reading shirt he'll get a standing ovation. Rodgers thought he was clever enough to open his mouth and conduct his business through the media. Something tells me he will be afforded an ever so slightly different reception.

Tommy will get the new me.  I am most definitely saving a bit of the old me for Brendan Rodgers.

Friday, 14 August 2009

When The Boys Are Away...

(These are the Watford fans in the Football League titles... do you know them, and are they real Watford fans?)

Tomorrow is going to be the first game of the season we won't be going along to support the boys. We're all massive Watford fans but don't go to every single game. So it'll be a Saturday afternoon spent trying to keep up with what is going on with Malky and the Boys. I know for men up and down the country it's a battle to keep checking their phones or keep one ear on the radio in between "yes dear you look lovely in that dress".

As many of you will be in the same boat I thought I would run down a few ways you can follow what is going on at Bramell Lane and on away games all this season.

BBC Radio
Last season BBC 3 Counties only did live match commentary of Watford away games. Great but they were pretty much all onto AM which isn't the easiest to pick. This season we're being promised every live match commentary of every home and away game on FM. I've not listen to Jon Marks and Neil Prices commentary before and having produced football coverage on radio for the last few seasons it will be interesting to hear what they are like.

I'm not sure if they'll be doing a Football League commentary game on BBC Five Live Sports Extra. Watford have been know to be the main commentary game but it is broken up quite a lot with scores from around the league. It may return when the cricket season is over!

Watford Observer
They offer minute-by-minute updates on the game, have a look in their Live Report Section. They also put up post match interviews, even get it sent straight to your iTunes, but they won't be up till Monday. This is in their Audio Interview Section.

BBC On-Line
There is live "text" commentary in the Watford section on the BBC Sports site as well as score updates along with every other game going on in the league. I think the strength of the BBC on-line coverage is post match with video highlights and audio interview.

"Football League Show" is on at 11:20 after the return of Match of The Day (10:00). Highlights from a few games and all the goals from all three divisions. If you've had too many beers then you can watch it on the iPlayer and on repeat on the red button till midday Sunday.

I'll be trying them all out this weekend to see what works... if you do then tell us what you think of the coverage.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

A Barmy Barnet Night

I've not been to a ground in the 1980's for a very long time. So when we turned up at Underhill for Barnet vs Watford in 1st Round of League Cup to find sheds it felt very retrospective. Great atmosphere in the Watford supporters. The ground and a the Barnet mascot gave them plenty of fuel for fans chant.

In what can only be described as cheap and poor bee outfit meant a chant of "You're a s*@t Harry Hornet". And as predicted by Jason in the car on the way over. "My Shed Is Bigger Than This" had to come up.

Malky named a strong side with only three changes from Saturday. Scott Loach, Jay DeMerit and Ross Jenkins were on international duties so Richard Lee was in goal, Lee Hodson made his first senior start at right-back (Mariappa moved to centre of defence) while John Eustace was back in yellow playing in centre midfield. When we first heard the team Jason and I both turned to each other with "that's a surprise" look followed by a confident nod. The first five minutes of the game certainly seemed like Watford would boss the game with lots of pressure, plenty of corners and a few close chances. This didn't last and the Watford were terrible in the first half - it was like watching a bunch of starangers playing together. No real focus or force to going forward, lots of hit and hope, Eustace and Severin were under each others feet and Richard Lee's kicks were coming to nothing. From all the chat and tweets I read at half time it seems everyone was feeling the same.

The second half didn't start any better and there was some real frustration growing in the Watford fans. There was even a run down of chants for our favourite players from the past, not great sign for the boys on the pitch. Then something happened. Something we would happen ever again. The Duke came on, and he played really well. His presence allowed for Tommy Smith to move back and out onto the right and with him being the front man it gave Danny Graham someone to play off. Over the first two games that Graham is going to be a poaching goal scorer, but a chaser and grinder as well. He certainly doesn't seem to be at his best as an out and out front man. So in the last 15-20 minutes of the second half Watford started to put some better moves together. All they needed was another 15 minutes and they would score. Luckily they got extra time and finally made the break through with Mike Williamson headed goal. Barnet didn't have the energy to put more pressure on us (well the odd close chances) and Scott Severin goal finished them off with a
last minute goal through the keepers legs.

There was a lot of terrible football from Watford, but at the same time there are some moments to build on. More then anything they need to figure each other out and that means knowing who is going to be the core of this side. Who is staying and who is going? Tommy seemed to be a man who has things on his mind, that needs sorting.

Oh and the programme gave us a few laughs... firstly we felt jealous about the club merchandise Barnet fans can get.

And then we learnt a little bit out the promiscuity of the Barnet fans and issues it's causing in the local community.

Roll on Sheffield on Saturday

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

A Vocal Chairman

You might have heard Jimmy Russo's interview with BBC 3 counties in the last few days. If not then have a listen below.

I hope Russo keeps up this open and direct approach to the media and therefore the Watford fans. Being a Chairman or Chief Executive of a football club must mean making decisions everyday that will annoy at least a few fans. However, as most don't really talk to their fans about the clubs true situation as Russo has then fans and media just start to speculate.

When he talks to fans as he does in this interview he is taking away the ability of angry vocal fans to rant on phone ins or bitch on a internet forum. If he does ends up selling Tommy Smith in this transfer window at least we all know why he is doing it and that it is for the good of the club. I for one will know his heart has the best intentions.


Sunday, 9 August 2009

First Day of School - Watford 1-1 Doncaster - Sat 8th August

Yesterday Vicarage Road was definitely a first day of school. There was the excitement of being back there for the first time, the sun was out, we had a new manager, a great pre-season - and at 3pm everything in the Watford world was good. Doncaster hadn't really come to win the game, just to stiffle Watford from playing football, often done by putting two or more men onto Tommy Smith when he got the ball. On 27 minutes Watford finally scored the goal they deserved - HORRAY. Tommy got on the end of Don Cowie's left side free kick, shot across the goal, and Danny Graham was at the far post to poke in his first League goal. The Doncaster goal was a very soft, if not freak goal just before half time. Watford goalkeeper Scott Loach was caught in the wrong position, well off his line and a good cross and header left him powerless.

The second half was very dull. The sun was very hot, both sets of players didn't seem quite match fit. By the hour mark both teams seemed to have given up and it got very sloppy. Watford didn't seem to have any conviction with their play and there was a lot of hit and hope. Doncaster had a short controlling spell which allowed Loach to reprieve his earlier mistake with a terrific dive to the left had post and clear a ball off the line - and it was on the line. New boy Danny Graham not only scored the goal but showed us the type of striker he was going to be - a hard work who will hustle us some goals - I like. It's not as pretty as Priskin but who cares if he keeps scoring (6-in-6). Scott Severin played well but I didn't see him shine - first day at school nerves maybe.

I was disappointed with the result, but not the performance. I left knowing this was a first day of the season and thing will be better. That makes me feel that this isn't going to be the nightmare season some have been saying it will be. The guys need to build as a team, know where one another is going to be and that will come with a bit more time. Time I will give them. We might get a few more players in so it will be a few games before we settle and for the 2009-2010 Watford Team show their faces/ I really hope that one of those faces is Tommy Smith the man who played more 'football' then anyone else and Watford true playmaker.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

The Jure-Vision Song Contest

I’ve always wanted to create a Rookery End chant – I don’t know why, maybe it’s the creative challenge? Most of the songs we sing have been around for years, but yesterday I started to think about our new players and how it would be nice if we welcome them properly to Vicarage Road.

So the player I chose that was new Slovakian Defender - Jure Travner

I thought about songs that would fit the syllables of his name - Jur-e Tra-v-ner. And after some deep thought I came up with "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep"... the first verse!

And here are my reworked lyrics... sing-along:

Jur-e Tra-v-ner (Jur-e Tra-v-ner)

He’s from Slo-va-kia (From Slo-va-kia)

And come to stop your goals (come to stop your goals)

From far far awwwaaaaay… Far far awwwaaaaay…

What do you think? it's the third line that I've not nailed yet.

As the title of this post said this is a contest so if you've got another Jure song we can sing then please get in touch. You might win the first ever "From The Rookery End" certificate!

All I need to do now is get everyone singing it. Any ideas or do I just stand up on Saturday, start singing and hope everyone joins in?

Big Money Day for Watford

Saying the word 'Money' around Watford is like saying the word 'Voldermont' on the Leavsden Studio set of Harry Potter. However, today has seen money coming and and going out of the Vicarage Road bank accounts so there is no getting around not using it.

Tamas Priskin's move to Ipswich seems to have finally been settled. Nothing is signed yet, but he is having a medical today and will sign tomorrow. Upon signing he will bring in £1.75 million - that's a nice sum of money. He only has a year left on his contract, he had already rejected a new one from Watford and well, it's money the club needs. I am more then happy with the financial side of deal.

We had hoped that Danny Graham would only cost £25,000, but after today's tribunal at the Football League it's going to be £200,000 plus £30,000 per 15 appearance he makes for the hornets (up to 75 games).

Of course the money is important, this is football where money makes the world go round. However, as fans it's all about how these deals will effect the on pitch performance. Priskin is a player who scored plenty of goals for us, and for me what makes those goals stand out is the fact he scores goals that can change a game. That's an attitude and experience thing that means more then a simple goal count.

I'm not going to deny I have a bit of worry in my stomach, I mean he is only one player to leave. It could turn into full on panic if Tommy goes and no one comes in to replace either of them. If he does go we will be on the back foot, but I still don't see it as our season over and done with. I see us left with a young and eager squad who often do well in the Championship, just look at Wolves over the last few seasons. The thing that annoys me the most is that we're still 2 days away from the first game of the season and the fan forums ARE going on the negative and writing off the season. We need to know how Watford will play on against Doncaster and if Graham can continues to score as he is - he's scored 5 in 5 pre-season games. If he does then we won't miss Priskin for long and the club will enjoy £1.75 million.

You never know we might start using the other dirty word 'Promotion'.


Saturday, 1 August 2009

A New Season Ahead...

It's only a week till the start of the new football season and "From The Rookery End" will be following Watford each week on this blog and on our podcasts.

We're three Watford Season Ticket holders in the Rookery End and we're going to get together to chat all things Watford - our football club. It's a brand new season for the Hornets. The Russo Brother back running the place, Malky is back in charge of the boys (this time he doesn't have to wear a parcel coloured coat or carry around a big bunch of keys) and it's another year in the Championship where as we know pretty much anything can happen and anyone can go up to the Premiership (Burnley will be back in 2010... surely?)

Whatever happens we'll be chatting about it and we want you to be part of it with your views and passions for Watford FC. The podcasts will be starting soon but for now you can get involved by following us on Twitter (@rookeryend) and Facebook.