Thursday, 28 January 2010

Football 0 Tennis 1

I reckon I’m about as grown up as I’m going to get. I own my home and I seem to be able to keep my daughter fed and watered. I read a grown up newspaper, I don’t understand what N’Dubz say in their songs  and I struggle with iTunes. I do my own washing. I even tie my own shoes. There is however one thing guaranteed to reduce me to throwing a childish wobbly. I still can’t stand it when Watford lose

Granted, I have mellowed slightly and am now less likely to hurl whatever is in my hand when the bad news breaks against the wall, but let us be clear – following a Hornets defeat, I still get the raging hump. The thing is, there is a knock on effect. After a Watford defeat I can’t tolerate any football. I forego The Football league Show (not a massive sacrifice I grant you) and can’t even bring myself to watch Match of the Day. Sky Sports News is out of bounds, and so are the sports sections of the bulging Sunday papers. Irrational I know, but there you have it.

Anyway, as the majority of you will know, having seemingly dodged a bullet off the pitch, Watford are now enduring a painful time on it – the most recent illustration being the last minute transformation of three points into none at Bloomfield Road. So, with Watford doing their level best to keep me off football, I have had to seek solace elsewhere

Melbourne to be exact.

Home to TV’s” Neighbours”, the world’s first walk through lion enclosure and the birthplace of Ozzie staple vegemite, for two weeks each January Melbourne also plays host to the Australian Open tennis, one of the four “Grand Slams” on the ATP tour. I, like most Brits enjoy Wimbledon every summer, watching on with a familiar resigned sense of amusement as the British entrants invariably fail to make it past the first round. I’ll keep an eye on the grand slams and various other tournaments that Sky Sports deem worthy of screening, but rarely do I afford tennis anything but a fleeting glance. Until now.

Whilst I try to divert my attention from where on this earth Watford are going to get a decent centre back from, I can’t think about football. It’s too painful. I do however need my sporting fix, and tennis has rather unexpectedly proved to fit that bill. The cynics amongst you will already be pointing to the relative success of Andy Murray as the reason for my conversion to tennis fan. Well, not so. As the tournament enters its second week, there have been some great matches, but it is the coverage of these matches that has really captivated me.

I’m lucky enough to be able to receive DAB digital radio in my car and last week, unexcited by any of my usual morning listening (Apologies to Messrs Moyles, Campbell and Ms Fogherty) I flicked over onto Radio 5 Live Sports Xtra. I knew the tennis would be on and was intrigued as to how such a fast moving sport would come across on the radio.

In truth I expected to be moving on through the dial pretty quickly. As it happened, I was late for work as I didn’t want to turn it off…

The commentary team of Jonathan Overend, Vassos Alexander and Alastair Eykyn, backed up my summariser Pat Cash were brilliant. It was pre-match and they were discussing a huge range of interesting subjects - the types of racquet used, training techniques, bits and bobs each of them had picked up from around the tournament. Fascinating stuff, for both the uneducated casual tennis fan and (I assume) those with a more year round commitment to tennis

The conversation was jovial and relaxed, a large dollop humour mixed  with truly insightful comment. I couldn’t help but think of the hours and hours of banal comment I have endured from some so called expert football summarisers, blithely stating the obvious, spewing forth what sadly can only be described as cliché ridden rot.

Back in Melbourne (not me, I was almost in Milton Keynes by now) the commentators were preparing to begin their commentary on Andy Murray’s third round match with Frenchman Florent Serra. Whilst I had enjoyed the build up, I was dubious as to how the team were going to verbally portray such a fast moving game in such a short amount of time.

I needn’t have worried. Jonathan Overend launched into commentary and instantly hit his stride, describing each movement, shot and close call with expert precision. As with a good book, the commentary was able to transport me into the thick of the action, my minds eye seeing each point as clear as if I was watching at home on TV.

As it was, Murray won the game at a canter, having to perform at no more than 60% of his undoubted ability to progress in three sets. The commentary team however were most definitely at 100% and as I clambered out of my car into the cold Milton Keynes morning, my mind was very much still in Melbourne, full of the vivid images so expertly described by Overend et al

As a British sports fan, I have since enjoyed Murray’s subsequent matches on Sports Xtra, but the biggest compliment I can pay to the BBC team in Australia is that I have also tuned in listened to matches featuring players that I had previously had no any interest in whatsoever.

The tennis finishes this weekend, and Watford have a home tie with Swansea. If they win that, my brief dalliance with tennis will be over and I’ll find myself once more submerged in the blanket coverage that the beautiful game enjoys. Nevertheless, if you’re sat next to me at Vicarage Road don’t be surprised to catch me checking for the ATP Tour news.

It’s rare for me to want to spend longer in the car in the morning, but over the past fortnight, with Sports Xtra and my new friends on the wireless there really was nowhere I would rather be. Apart from Melbourne perhaps…

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Finding Our Level

Further to the blog post Grandad Taylor - my hopes he brings stability to the club and helps us find our natural postition in the world of Football - it was great to read GT's words in today's Express. Particularly these ones:

"I have to say that my first 10-year spell was the happiest time of my career, as we over-achieved and reached a height way above Watford’s natural level."

The article reiterates something that we all know very well - Watford Football Club and it's well being is at his heart. He took us from 4th Division to the highest of the old 1st Division. The club must be like one of his Children. It's also great to know that his intentions as Chairman are exactly what the club needs - finding our natural postion in football and not squander Premier League money if it is to turn up at our door.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Grandad Taylor

A nice message to Graham Taylor from the Hornblogger:

"Graham, its just good to have you in the role of chairman... It's a shame you aren't in control of the purse strings but its certainly reassuring to have you overseeing the club in its current state."

I think every Watford fan agrees. He may not have the purse strings, but the ownership ball is in the Ashcroft/FordWat court. I don't see them as the interfering type (when did Ashcroft last come to a game?), they haven't talked about needing quick growth or return and guaranteed Premier League status. So we don't need a Executive Chairman who in the next 6 months will make dramatic changes for short term gains.

What Watford needs more then anything at the moment is a Grandfather figure chairman. A bastion of the Watford values, who sets the tone for how things should be done. At this point in our history Watford need to sort out the kind of club we are going to be not only for this season, but beyond. He'll also be good for Malky and the young players to give them wise advice and tell them stories of about the war - well the England 1994 World Cup qualification campaign. Whatever the story he'll be there with a warm arm around their shoulder.

I can't think of anyone else who could be a better Football Grandad then Graham Taylor.

Monday, 4 January 2010

The Family Way

I thoroughly enjoyed the matchday programme from our little trip across London to Stamford Bridge. The great interview with John Harley, how nicely they spoke about Watford and what we've achieved this season, but most of all Tim Lovejoy's column on the back page. He's a Chelsea fan who watched Watford a lot when he was growing up. He looks at the club very fondly as gave him, his Dad and spurs sporting brother a chance to watch football together. He talks about how forward thinking Watford were in being a "family club". It's how I remember the club when I first started to attending Vicarage Road age 6. I don't have that feeling anymore and it is the one ace card we have to bring in a wider local football audience. Now I went to school with a LOT of Tim Lovejoys - Arsenal and Spurs fans who like Watford but didn't call themselves fans. They went to matches as it was their local club and their Dads (and Mum's) were happy to take them to the environment we had.

If I were Chairman of Watford this is the strategy I would lead the club with. I know there is a lot of work done in the community through the trust, but I don't think the current ground set up helps encourage families to attend games. I hope that the new East Stand (whenever it arrives) will be set up to focus on the family and be more then a designated area of seats. It needs special areas and facilities to help encourage families - a Family Enclosure. I remember seeing the same families at every game and having a special family room where Dads and kids could socialise before and after the game. Football was the reason we came to games, but we got so much more from it - friendships. I would love for at least part of the East Stand to be a place where not only Watford families can sit together, but also where away families can sit next to them.

There were many friends and families from both sides of on the train from Watford to Euston yesterday, and it's a fantastic thing to see. I hope Watford can lead the way again and setting the tone for future of families in football.

Friday, 1 January 2010

A Clearer Financial Picture

What's going on? has been a question on pretty much every Watford fan for the last month. Being a stock market business it is often hard for Chairman and Chief Executives to share all the information they want. but great to read a Financial Q&A with CEO Julian Winter on the about what went on and where we stand. I would love to hear more details about the "Watford Way" Winter mentions

If Watford are to stay a multi owner club then an Independent Board is key for me. They will run the club as it should be and are probably less likely to play around with someone else's money. It's also very important to have people with passion for the club like Graham Taylor. As football fans it is important to know how much we can expect from our club. This open article lets me know what we can demand and hope from our club.

Helguson Possibly Move To Newcastle

So going out on loan isn't just a chance for young players like 20 years old Tom Cleverly or 19 year old Henri Landsbury to get some first team action and get noticed. The Daily Mail has a rumour of 32 year old Heidar Helguson possible moving to Newcastle. Newcastle have had their £1.25M bid for Leeds United's Jermine Beckford has been knocked back and want some more fire power up front. His 5 goals in 10 games (8 starts, 2 as sub) has caught the eye and he could be part of Newcastle very realistic chance of automatic promotion. Still if they don't then we'd love to have him back!