Thursday, 30 September 2010


Watford’s spectacular winning run may have come to an end against Swansea this week, but the perfect tonic for downhearted Hornets fans is now available – the fourth ‘From the Rookery End’ podcast is now available to download!

In the latest edition season ticket holders Jon, Jason and Mike talk about the recent avalanche of goals and name their player of the season so far. The boys also interview Lee Hodson and unveil the results of the campaign to find a song for Watford captain John Eustace. There is also another glimpse into the world of winger Michael Bryan in the next instalment of ‘The Life of Bryan’

In talking about the latest edition, presenter Jon Moonie explained:

“After a fantastic month it was a real pleasure to put together a naturally upbeat and positive podcast. There has been very little to complain about since the last recording and it is great to be able to talk about performances such as those witnessed against Millwall and Middlesbrough. It’s times like this that we can really enjoy being Watford fans and I hope that comes through in what you hear”

“We’d also like to say Thanks to everyone who has downloaded the podcast so far. We continue to get emails from across the globe, so it is nice to know we are getting a little taste of what’s going on at Vicarage Road to those fans further afield”

To Listen on-line or download this podcast go to ITUNES or listen on the player at the top of this blog post.

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Wednesday, 29 September 2010


This post was originally published in the Watford vs Swansea Matchday programme on 28th September 2010.

Watford’s recent 6-1 win at Millwall equalled the Hornets best away result of all time. History was made and From The Rookery End’s Mike Parkin missed it. Read on for his excuse…

There are rare occasions when it isn’t worth thinking about going to the football, let alone mentioning it. Saturday 18th September was one such day. So, while Watford were kicking off against Millwall at the New Den, I was ordering my starter in a local pub, as I joined in celebrating my Mother in Law's 60th birthday. Even with my famed negotiating skills, this was an engagement I was never going to get out of.

I’ll be honest with you, as 3pm rolled round, I wasn’t unduly upset. I’ve been to Millwall on a number of occasions, including a Coca-Cola Cup encounter on a wet Tuesday night, so feel satisfied that I have flown the Watford flag sufficiently to give Bermondsey a swerve for a couple of seasons. On top of that, it was a nice day, the food was tasty and I was in good company. As time rolled past, what was an enjoyable day turned into a truly magnificent one as my phone told me of Watford goal, after Watford goal after Watford goal…

I, like many other Watford fans, stayed up that night to watch the avalanche of goals on the BBC’s ‘Football League Show’. Predictably, the coverage was minimal, with as per usual, more time apportioned to the so called bigger clubs. However, as I watched the goals flying in and the fans celebrating it wasn’t the poor coverage that annoyed me. It was the fact I wasn’t there.
Being a football fan is largely about bragging rights. My team beat your team. My team has better players than your team. My club has more fans than your club. I was there when…Except on this occasion, I wasn’t.
Around 1,000 Hornets made the journey that day. A band of hardy souls, travelling more in hope than expectation, but oh how they were rewarded. Not only did they witness a thumping great win, but they were also recipients of something far more important, something irreplaceable and magical. A little nugget that they can share with those that were at Vicarage Road to see us turn over Southampton 7-1 in the League Cup after losing the first leg 0-4. Something they now have in common with the travelling fans who were at Turf Moor when a Chopra inspired Watford battered Burnely 7-4. They have the memories. They have the knowledge that they were there to see it live. The lucky swines.

Not that I’m bitter of course. I have my fair share of memories, indelibly marked on my minds eye, scenes that give me goosebumps whenever I replay them in my head. Beating Cantona and league Champions Leeds at Vicarage Road. Nicky Wright and Alan Smart at Wembley. The away leg of the play offs at Crystal Palace. Shivering on the terraces at Oakwell whilst watching us beat Barnsley on a cold Tuesday night, having bunked off school for the afternoon. All treasured memories, some historically significant, some not, but I’m proud to say I was there for each of them.

My favourite such memory? Well that came in the glamorous surroundings of Peterborough’s ramshackle London Road in 1994. Both clubs were in the midst of an awful relegation scrap and defeat for either team would almost certainly seal their fate. Luckily, in what was an extraordinary match, Watford ran out 4-3 winners and a couple of thousand Watford fans celebrated safety. If a better atmosphere has ever been generated at a Watford game – I want to know about it.

Of course such memorable games are vastly outweighed by the duff ones. Games where you can’t remember the opposition, much less the scorers or what the atmosphere was like. Despite this unavoidable fact, you have in your hand a matchday programme. The chances are, you are sat at Vicarage Road waiting to watch Watford take on Swansea in what could well be a very ordinary game. You are here though, that’s the important thing and you never know. This could be another of those magical occasions after which you can proudly proclaim – I was there.


Rookery Mike

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This post was originally published in the Watford vs Swansea Matchday programme on 28th September 2010.

It’s every Watford fans dream. A chance to play football on the same pitch as your heroes in front of a packed stadium. Sometimes though, that dream can quickly turn into a nightmare.

Some of you may be aware of the Sky Sports quiz show ‘Take it like a fan’. Hosted by former Soccer AM favourite John ‘Fenners’ Fendley and Sky Sports News’ Charlotte Jackson, fans are able to win cash by answering questions on their club.

Fenners and Charlotte descended on Vicarage Road for the Middlesbrough game and I had managed to speak to the team in advance to confirm my participation. Conscious that being part of a TV show often necessitates a lot of hanging around, I was loathe to go on my own. I therefore called my (hungover) brother Andy and, against his better judgement, persuaded him to come with me.

At the ground we met with the production crew and were immediately told that we would both definitely be taking part. I would be a contestant in the ‘home and away’ section, in which I would be asked questions on Watford if I chose ‘home’ and on Middlesborough if I chose ‘away’. Straightforward enough. Andy on the other hand was faced with a far more interesting and exciting proposition…

Andy would be taking part in the section of the show entitled ‘People on the pitch’ in which he and a fellow Watford fan would be asked a single question. The contestant with the correct answer wins. Usually the prize is £100 - this time was different. On this occasion the winning Watford fan would take a penalty against Watford keeper Jonathan Bond in front of the packed Rookery End at half time, with a successful spot kick meaning a prize of £500. No pressure then…

The segment took place in the middle of the Vicarage Road pitch, with the ground rapidly filling up. There was a definite sense of anticipation as I looked on from pitchside and hoped. The poser set by Fenners was as follows: ‘How many goals did Watford score in the 1999/00 season?’. Andy’s effort was 37 and at only two goals away from the correct total of 35 it was good enough to win. He’d done it.  Delight quickly gave way to nerves as the realisation dawned that my brother would be fulfilling a lifelong ambition. He was going to take a penalty at Vicarage Road in front of 12,000 people.

As I rejoined Andy and we took our seats, he wore a haunted expression. He was with me in body, but his mind was clearly battling with what he should do with his spot kick. Bottom left? Top right? Blast it or place it? It was clearly going to be a long 45 minutes.

As the game got underway, the professionals did their best to put Andy’s mind at rest, racing into a well deserved 3-0 lead. As the rest of us cheered, sang and wondered if we could be on for another Millwall style goal-fest, Andy quietly battled with his nerves.

Before we knew it the first half was history and Andy, surrounded by a camera crew was placing the ball on the spot. His moment had arrived. Richard Short introduced him to the crowd, leaving them in no doubt as to what was going on. This was Andy’s one shot at glory. A chance to fulfill a lifelong ambition and to scoop 500 quid in the process. I felt sick with nerves as 12,000 pairs of eyes focussed on my brother. I could only imagine how he was feeling…

In the blink of an eye it was over. A confident run up and a clean connection. The goalkeeper went the wrong way and could only look on as the ball sailed past him... And into the crowd.

He’d missed it. I have to admit, my biggest fear had been that he’d slip over, so I quickly gave silent thanks that he remained upright, but then there was nowhere else to hide. The chance of a lifetime had ended up being the miss of a lifetime. As I write this, he still wears a slightly vacant look. Silently replaying the moment in his mind. At least he can say he’s done it though. Well done Andy, I’m proud of you.

As for me, well the show airs on Sky Sports this Friday night. Tune in and see if I fared any better.


Rookery Mike

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Sunday, 26 September 2010


This post was originally published in the Watford vs Middlesbrough Matchday programme on 25th September 2010 (Page 68).

Don’t worry, From the Rookery End’s Mike Parkin isn’t applying to be on a game show. He is however struggling with a conundrum...

I’m a sort of grown up now. I say sort of because I still listen to my iPod too loud, laugh at silly jokes and wear a baseball cap, baggy jeans and t-shirts with writing all over them. Despite looking like a slightly overweight American teenager, I promise you I’m a responsible adult. I have to be. I’m a Dad.

As well as being a Father I am a huge Watford fan. At 19 months old, my daughter is too. This is largely down to her fascination with Harry the Hornet, but her introduction to life as a Watford fan has been enhanced by some great club initiatives.

The pre-season open day in Bushey was an absolute joy. Players happily mingled with supporters both young and old for the entire afternoon, signing whatever was thrust in front of them and posing for photographs. My nephew remains ecstatic that he shook Malky’s hand and although she couldn’t quite say so, I could tell my daughter was delighted to have her picture taken with Aidy Mariappa. On a less happy note it was at this time that it became clear my girlfriend finds Mr Mariappa rather pleasing on the eye, but moving on…

Fast forward a couple of months to the recent home game with Doncaster Rovers and Vicarage Road is pretty much full. Given the nature of the opposition (no disrespect Donny fans!) you could be forgiven for being surprised at the big crowd. Until that is, you realise it is Family Day.
Watford have held these events for some time now, dramatically reducing ticket prices to give those with families and young children a chance to come along without spending a small fortune. I have always supported these days, the benefits are clear, but as a relatively new Dad, they now have extra meaning.

Needless to say I took advantage of the offer and it was with some excitement that I was able to take my daughter to her first competitive Watford game (her official debut was at the St Albans friendly). Upon arrival at the ground the stewards couldn’t have been better, opening a gate to allow us in with the buggy, then folding it up and stowing it away for the duration of the game. Great customer service that went a long way to helping us relax and enjoy the day, safe in the knowledge that despite arriving with what felt like everything but the kitchen sink, we were welcome.

The day continued to be a hugely enjoyable one and when I saw Marvin Sordell put Watford ahead whilst surrounded by my little family, there can have been few happier men on earth. As we all know, Watford can do fairytale endings, but on this occasion chose not to. A late Doncaster equaliser spoiled the party and it got me thinking. When on earth was the last time we won on a family day?

I scanned my failing memory. The last family day was at home to Peterborough who were enduring a woeful season without an away win to their name. Needless to say, before a packed and excited Vicarage Road, they took all three points. In fact, previous to the encounter with Doncaster, the last time I could recall us getting anything out of a family day fixture was a tepid 1-1 draw with York City in 1997.

The conclusion was clear. Watford never win on family day. This poses a problem. A dilemma. Attracting the next generation of supporters is vital. Catering for families and reducing ticket prices to make a trip to The Vic more accessible is important, but winning games is important too and we’ve established we never do that on these occasions. So in true Family Fortunes style, if we asked 100 Watford fans what is more important, what would come out on top? Winning over the next generation of fans or winning the game? What do we want, points or principles?

I think it’s simple. In the past couple of months my daughter has, thanks to the clubs family and community events, met the Watford squad and seen them play in comfortable and welcoming surroundings. She enjoyed it. We enjoyed it. We’ll be back as a family, hopefully for many years to come. That feels like a big win to me.

Come On You Horns!

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Saturday, 11 September 2010


This post was originally published in the Watford vs Doncaster Rovers Matchday programme on 11th September 2010 (Page 62).

Watford have had the lot already this season. Is it any wonder that Mike Parkin, season ticket holder and co-presenter of From The Rookery End Podcast, doesn’t know if he’s coming or going?

Can it really be September already? The kids are back at school, the (non bottled) summer tans are starting to fade and England are already attempting to qualify for the next International tournament at which we can embarrass ourselves. Of course slightly more cheerily, the nPower Championship is also well underway and our beloved Hornets have made a reasonable start.

Widely tipped for the drop by pundits and supporters alike, Watford made a blistering start to the season with a fine away win at Norwich and followed it up with solid draws against Coventry and Hull. Since then, the inevitable happened and we eventually lost our unbeaten record - losing at home to Notts County and Leeds United in the space of a week.

Ordinarily, two home defeats in the space of five days would be cause for concern and utter misery. At the very least I’d have bashed out a slightly miserable blog post or two and sulked at home, steadfastly refusing to watch The Football League Show or read the sports pages in the papers. So far though, my post match emotions have been different. It could be because I am older, wiser and more mature. Those who know me will quickly confirm that this isn’t the case. So what is going on?

Well. Being a football fan isn’t easy. Trying to explain the experience is even harder, but here goes. Sometimes, draws feel like defeats. Sometimes draws feel like wins. Sometimes defeats feel like…well, defeats always feel like defeats, but sometimes they are easier to stomach. With me so far?

Let’s take the Coventry game as an example. A sunny Saturday at Vicarage Road and it was the first home game of the season. Former Manager Aidy Boothroyd was afforded a warm welcome back off the pitch, whilst his team were given a footballing lesson on it. For 89 minutes or so anyway.

After racing in to a 2-0 lead courtesy of Will Buckley and an early contender for goal of the season in the form of a John Eustace bicycle kick, Watford played some great stuff in the August sunshine. We were superior in every part of the pitch and it was looking like being a rather splendid day all round.

Then it all went a bit wrong.

When things go badly for your team, fans can always, without exception, find a way to blame the officials, and this occasion is no exception. Mid-way through the second half, the referee got injured and had to be substituted. It soon transpired that there was no substitute for the substitute and a PA announcement had to be put out across Vicarage Road asking for a qualified official to take up the fourth official duties. Understandably this unusual request was met with much laughter in the crowd. The laughter didn’t last. The delay in sorting out the situation, combined with numerous other stoppages meant a long period of injury time. How long you ask? Well, the exact amount of time needed for Coventry to score two late goals and snatch a draw. A draw. A point. An amazing goal. Our unbeaten record preserved. In short, a lot to smile about, but in actuality I felt very little pleasure walking away from the ground.

Compare that feeling to the one I felt after the defeat to Notts County. Despite being out of the cup at the hands of a lower league club, the performance Watford had put in was, in the main, excellent. Chances galore, glimpses of fantastic stuff from some of our new signings and a senior debut for another of our Academy graduates. I walked away buoyant, positive and confident in our team. The same sort of feeling I get when we win. But we’d lost. See? I told you it was confusing…

That’s the joy of being a fan though. The ups and downs, the excitement and disappointment. The consistently contrasting emotions. It’s why we love football, why we keep coming back. Win lose or draw, we have no idea how we’re going to feel when that full time whistle blows. Long may it continue!

Come on You Horns!


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Monday, 6 September 2010

A Song for John

In Podcast 1 and 2 I sang some special songs for Watford players. Every song came from the heart. Firstly "Oh Doyley", an apology from me to Lloyd Doyley because I missed his first goal. The second was a motivation song for Liam Henderson. "Fight For Henderson" was written in a hope to showmy  support for our young striker and help him get his first senior goal. In Podcast 3 I sang your amazing songs for our new striker Troy Deeney.

For Podcast 4 (due out at the end of September) I have set Mike a challenge. He's been going on about my bad singing for so long that I've told him to put his money where his mouth is. I've challenged him to write and sing a song for his man crush John Eustace. You've all heard his love for John in our podcasts. So in Podcast 4 we'll see if he can express that love through song.

We also want to hear your songs for John. He doesn't have his own tune for us to sing at the moment. And with him being our Club Captain and scoring plenty of goals this season it's about time we gave his own song.

So here's what we want from you

- Pick a pop song, old or new, rock or pop.
- Write some lyrics to go with it.
- Post the song name and lyrics on the blog below or email them to

We'll then turn them into a song and I promise to get a decent singer to turn it into a work of art. If you get stuck for songs then why not try and 90's classic "She's Electric" by Oasis.

We can't wait to hear what you come up with. We loved your songs for Troy and know that you'll come up with a belter for John Eustace.


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Thursday, 2 September 2010

PODCAST 3: Win, Lose and Draws - Watford CEO Julian Winter

International fixtures mean there is no Watford game this weekend, but Hornets fans need not despair. Supporters can still get their Watford fix via the latest ‘From the Rookery End’ podcast, which is out today.

In this edition the boys manage to gain access to the inner sanctum at Vicarage Road where they discussed the clubs future in a frank and interesting interview Chief Executive Julian Winter. Jon, Jason and Mike also caught up with Sky Sports News presenter and Watford fan Adam Leventhal who shares his views on his job and why he wants Watford to be a bit less lovable.

The podcast also features discussion around the season so far, feedback from fans on what announcements they would like to hear across the Vicarage Road PA system and we’re delighted to report that you will once hear Jon’s dulcet tones as he debuts the songs that supporters sent in for new signing Troy Deeney.

In talking about the latest edition, presenter Jason Bailey said:

‘As ever, the podcast was a huge amount of fun to put together. We are starting to get a lot of suggestions and contact from fellow fans which is great. Their input really adds to the podcast and we love hearing what people have to say.

We have touched on a very serious subject this time round – the future of the club, and we’re grateful for the time Julian Winter gave us and are reassured by what he had to say. I’m sure that when fans listen to the interview, they will feel the same’.

You download and subscribe to the podcast via iTUNES. Or search "From The Rookery End" in iTunes. Or you can listen on-line right on by simply click play at the top of the page.

You can also down load the podcast direct to your computer by clicking your right mouse button HERE and 'Save As'. And if you use a different podcast catcher then you can use the RSS Code -

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