Wednesday, 29 December 2010


This post was originally published on Tuesday 28th December 2010 in the Watford vs Cardiff Matchday programme

Mike Parkin of the ‘From the Rookery End’ podcast is no Gok Wan, Trinny or Susannah, but he’s pretty certain he knows what not to wear on the football pitch…

Football has a chequered history when it comes to fashion, and that is being generous. Looking back over pictures from the last couple of decades, the mind boggles as to quite how grown men managed to conduct their professional lives in such a horrific range of uncomfortable, ill fitting, poorly designed clobber. However, we all know footballers don’t do things by halves and seemingly unsatisfied with having to wear a kit that looks like it could have been designed by a 4 year old with an etch-a-sketch, players have taken to adding to their match-day attire.

I knew we were in trouble when players started wearing coloured boots. I can’t quite remember when they started cropping up, but once they did, there was no stopping them. Red, white, green, blue, purple, gold – I even think I recall seeing Tamas Priskin wearing a pink pair once, not ideal when you are trying to hide from the linesman in an offside position for the 100th time in the same game…

An earlier indication of players losing the sartorial plot was the increase in players wearing gloves. I think my earliest memory of a gloved player was our very own John Barnes, so I am loathe to be too harsh and as Roy Keane correctly observed recently – ‘that boy could play’. However, it has to be said, I doubt that gloves are really necessary and when worn with a short sleeved football shirt, they look plain ridiculous. Yes Lloyd, I’m looking at you.

After the gloves came the tights. Yes, tights. The first player to wear them almost certainly came up with an excuse about them aiding a recovery from an injury, keeping muscles warmed up or some such claptrap, but nowadays they are slipped on without so much as a hint of embarrassment or self consciousness. In a Champions League game recently, even the officials felt it necessary to wear a pair. The pansies.

So, the best loved and most watched sport in the world now has players running round in pink boots, tights and gloves. Surely it couldn’t get any worse. Could it? Of course it could. One simple word and the questionable taste of an Arsenal player has taken football’s crimes against fashion to a whole new and unforgivable level. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the snood.

For those of you blissfully unaware of the latest way footballers have found to make themselves look daft, a snood (I can’t even type the word without feeling embarrassed and slightly silly) is a sort of circular scarf that is worn round the neck, a bit like a big woolly polo mint. Presumably to protect the oh so delicate adams apple region from developing hypothermia. If it sounds ridiculous, it looks even worse and whilst I’m sure the players involved have signed lucrative sponsorship deals to sport these questionable garments, I wouldn’t wear one in the privacy of my own home if you paid me, let alone in front of the watching world.

I dearly hope that when Samir Nasri pulled on his snood for the first time in the Emirates dressing room, he was greeted with howls of derision and merciless mickey taking. I fear that it’s more likely he was asked where the rest of the squad could get one. If you are interested, I’m sure you can get them from the same shop that sold Emmanuel Eboue his white tights.

The only pleasing thing to come out of this worrying trend has been the swift action of our brave and fearless leader Malky Mackay. Clearly sharing my point of view, he quickly announced a ban on Watford players sporting snoods. Quite if a player would have risked the wrath of Sean Dyche by turning up in one, we shall never know…

Perhaps in snubbing snoods, Watford are living up to the ‘unfashionable’ tag that has seemingly been ours for so long. Well, we’re bucking other trends too. We’re nurturing talent instead of paying for it. We’re active in the local community instead of trying to flog shirts in Asia. We’re brave enough to not do what the others do and if that means we’re unfashionable, well that suits me just fine.

Come on you Horns!

-- Mike (@RookeryMike)

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Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Fog on the Vic -Watford 4-1 Cardiff

There are magical games and then there are games like Watford 4 Cardiff 1. Our home form this season hasn't been great, and we know that we've had some fantastic away games at Millwall, QPR and Norwich. However, we've not seen anything as good as that at Vicarage Road. I say "we've seen", but for most of the second half it was quite hard to see past the half way line because of fog. It was another great team performance and it almost feels bad to pick out individuals, however I must.

Will Buckley was dominant. He made the Cardiff left back Lee Naylor look like a conference player. He out paced him and frustrated to the point where his only tactic was to kick Buckley off the ball. And after getting a yellow card he was substituted - in the first half. You know it isn't going to be a good day when you have to make a defensive substitution in the first half.

John Eustace was in complete control in midfield. Cardiff's play maker Seyi Olofinjana, couldn't get anything going. Super John was on top of everything and with some quick thinking and communication with Don Cowie he gave himself plenty of space easily head Watford's 3rd goal from a Cowie corner.

And of course Danny Graham continues his fantastic goal scoring form. Yes, he missed a first half penalty, but he threw himself on the end of Will Buckley's cross to score his and Watford's first and when Watford were awarded a second penalty (again after a foul on Buckley) he ran to grab the ball so he could take the second Watford penalty of the day (we've not had one for two years and then get two in one game). Graham slotted it home with confidence. They were his 13th and 14th goals of the season equalling his goals total from last season.

Other notewortheies are Marvin Sordell who ran his socks off and scored Watford's second, Lloyd Doyley who was combining well on the right with Buckley. In fact the whole back four were cool and calm when on the ball. They didn't hoof it out, they controlled it, made the necessary pass to keep possession and build another attack.

I left the game on an enormous high. We have had great games this season, and this was by far our best home performance. Of course Malky and the boys have been working hard off the pitch to develop the on pitch product, but we do love a lucky charm on From The Rookery End. So what has been behind these amazing performances. Is it the fact that Millwall, QPR and Cardiff all have blue in their kit? OR is it down to Jason's Lucky Watford Snowman - Xavier. Named after the whites man to ever play for Watford Xavier Gravelaine. Xavier has now watched the QPR game on the telly and Cardiff was his first game at Vicarage Road. He seems to have a magical ability to get a good performance out of the Watford players!

If you are yet to listen to Podcast 7 then please do. We are really proud of our exclusive and extensive interview with Malky Mackay. It's our little Christmas present from us to you.

Listen On-line: By pressing the play button at the top of the blog.
Download: Or you can download and subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes.

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Friday, 24 December 2010


Mike, Malky Jon and Jason having a Christmas chat


Our 7th Podcast is a Christmas Special. We passed 10,000 downloads in the last month and Mike, Jason and I wanted to give you a very special Christmas present. And here it is... our exclusive and extensive interview with Watford Manager Malky Mackay.

He tells you about what it takes to become a football manager, what he has to deal with day-to-day and how he felt when he didn't get the managers job first time around.

You can also hear two... YES TWO Christmas songs. The 12 Days of Watford and a very special Watford version of Mistletoe and Wine (it was released in 1988... and you'll notice that I get it wrong in the podcast). If you want to sing along the lyrics are below.

We talk about the last month of Watford football, including our MAGNIFICENT win away at QPR, and Don Cowie, Martin Taylor, Danny Graham and Adrian Marriappa pull a Christmas Cracker with us and tell the special jokes that come with them!

There are some long away trips coming up so we hope we can fill an hour of your journey to Ipswich, Scunthorpe and Cardiff.

Merry Christmas and a Golden Boys New Year

-- Jon

How to listen...

You can download and listen to the podcast via iTUNES. It's also the place to subscribe so you get all future From The Rookery End podcast straight to your computer. If you use a different podcast catcher to iTunes then you can use the RSS Code -

It's also possible to listen on-line right here on by simply click play on our player at the top of this page.

AND you can also download the podcast direct to your computer by clicking your right mouse button HERE and clicking 'Save As'.


On the 12 days of Watford my GT gave to me

12 goals for Graham
11 academy players
10th in the League
9 pies for Malky
8 minutes for Josh Walker
7 players on loan
6 goals at Millwall
5 away wins
4 goals for Taylor
3 points at Rangers
2 TV wins
And still just 1 goal for our Lloyd!!!


Malky’s our king, the Rookery Sing,
Ashcroft is going, it’s a new beginning
Dreams of East Stands, dreams of goals,
Dreams of a view, not obstructed by poles,

It’s Christmas time, Buckley down the line,
Hornets singing Watford based rhyme,
With Danny Graham scoring while Loach keeps clean sheets
Who is the next team that Watford will beat?

A time for winning, a time for scoring,
A time for attacking, let’s not be boring
Troy and Marvin, Cowie, McGinn
With talent like that we surely must win,

It’s Christmas time, Buckley down the line,
Hornets singing Watford based rhyme,
With Danny Graham scoring while Loach keeps clean sheets
Who is the next team that Watford will beat?

So what of the back line, well they are just fine,
Lloyd, Aidy and Martin all protecting the goal line,
Captain Eustace, leading the fight
Powerful tackling, white teeth shining bright

It’s Christmas time, Buckley down the line,
Hornets singing Watford based rhyme,
With Danny Graham scoring while Loach keeps clean sheets
Who is the next team that Watford will beat?

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Monday, 20 December 2010

The Duke Tweets

I saw two interesting conversations on twitter tonight (Monday 20th December) with out on loan striker Nathan “The Duke” Ellington (@Nathanellington) and a couple of Watford fans @hornetdan1979 and @Matt_Furniss. I thought you'd like to see them.

It started after a tweet from The Duke himself:

I don't talk about moves until it's done. Some Teams r interested and bristol rovers are one of them. That's all I can say! Thanks.


hornetdan1979 @Nathanellington
Question: Do you feel embarrassed at what you have given Watford considering the transfer fee and wages paid for you?

Nathanellington @hornetdan1979
Not embarrassed just disappointed with myself. That's the only club where I didn't have good stats. First year on bench and playing pure long ball didn't help.

hornetdan1979 @Nathanellington
Cheers for good honest answer. Appreciate style of play didn't suit you, frustrating for fans that huge outlay didn't work.

Nathanellington @hornetdan1979
Under Malky was great to be honest, but damage was already done. financial troubles meant I can't play even if they wanted


Matt_Furniss @Nathanellington
So are you saying that, even if you can't find a new club, you are unlikely to play for financial/contractual reasons?

Nathanellington @Matt_Furniss
Yes I think that's the case.

Matt_Furniss @Nathanellington
That's a shame. I think you could definitely offer something with our current style of play. Good luck etc though.

Nathanellington @Matt_Furniss
I'll move to another club I have no doubt I'll be flying again, I feel great and can't wait to go somewhere and play regularly again.


It’s a complex business football. We’d all love for it to just be about what happens on the pitch, but it’s not. Wouldn’t it be lovely if The Duke could come back and have a killer 6 months helping us get back into the Premier League? Of course, but from his tweets tonight it looks like his time in a Watford shirt is over and the business side of football is getting in the way of a dream finish to what must be the most troublesome transfers in Watford history.

-- Jon

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Friday, 17 December 2010

Friday Fun and Games

My boss (a QPR fan) has been going on about Danny Graham's offside goal all week (well that's what he calls it). So this afternoon I recreated the scene with the Gummy Bears he bought at lunch time. And it looks like he was right. By the way, QPR didn't have 4 goalies on the night, I just had to use that many sweets to get Paddy Kenny's proportions right.

Having seen it he produced a bag of cola bottles and he was also able to recreate the celebration of that goal.

-- Jason

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Wednesday, 15 December 2010

From the Rookery End with Thanks

Being a football fan isn’t always easy. It’s an expensive, time consuming way
of life that more often than not leaves you feeling drained, disappointed and
depressed. Sometimes though, it all goes to plan and you remember just why
you do it. For me and two of my Watford supporting cohorts, this weekend
was one such occasion.

Watford fans across the world will have got their weekend off to a flying start
having witnessed the Hornets thoroughly outclassing previously unbeaten
QPR on their home patch, but for me and my fellow ‘From the Rookery
End’ co-presenters the news that our podcast had been downloaded for the
10,000th time made sure the day was a truly unforgettable one.

Having hit this landmark and taken time to reflect on the six podcasts we’ve
done to date, I have been able to make a few observations.

Firstly, people are obviously listening to our little podcast. That’s definitely
good news. Taking into account our singing voices and questionable attempts
at comedy, it’s surprising, but is both reassuring and rewarding nonetheless.
If you are one of the fabulous people to have taken the time to download and
listen to our efforts so far – thank you!

Secondly, what fun we’ve had. We’ve been incredibly lucky to forge a decent
relationship with the club and as such have been able to interview players,
visit the training ground, meet the Chief Executive – we have even been
allowed to risk our lives by recording a podcast in the out of bounds East
Stand. Oh the glamour!

We’ve giggled uncontrollably as we have each taken turns to write and sing
songs about our heroes, marvelled at Jon’s seemingly unbreakable optimism,
realised with some horror that all the women in my family have crushes on
Watford players both past and present, and been staggered at Jason’s ability
to recall random statistics at the drop of a hat. Let’s not forget that for most of
the time we’re doing all this in a pub. What’s not to like!

My third observation is perhaps the most important. It is that the podcast
experience to date has reinforced what I think a lot of us already knew -
Watford is a very, very special club. In an age where football club and fan
seem to be living an increasingly separate existence, Watford are once again
bucking trends and showing that the opposite can be true. The club have put
a lot of hard work into community events, but it has been their attitude to us
and ‘From the Rookery End’ that has reaffirmed just how lucky we are to be

When Jon originally had the idea for the podcast, we had a vague idea that
once established, we might be able to swing a couple of quick interviews with
the players, or failing that a word with the kit man. How wrong we were. The
team at Watford have been absolutely fantastic and having heard the first
podcast, willingly responded to our requests for interviews and access to key

personnel. How many other clubs would take three blokes, armed with an
iPhone and singing Barry Manilow songs about Lloyd Doyley seriously? Not
that many. It’s a real mark of the club and its commitment to doing what they
can for us, the fans, that set them apart from so many of their contemparies.
Now more than ever, I’m proud and privileged to be a Watford fan.

Of course, it is a two way process, we give as much as we take. After all,
I don’t think it can be a coincidence that shortly after being interviewed by
Jason, Jon and I, both Scott Loach and Lee Hodson received their first full
International call ups. Don’t mention it lads – just happy to be able to give
something back.

In talking to Jason and Jon about our first six podcasts, we’ve each managed
to identifiy a favourite moment so far. Jon’s was a surprise. Both Jason and I
assumed he would have been keen to never speak of his singing debut again.
Not so.

“I missed the Lloyd Doyley goal against QPR and it hurt. For centuries people
have found solace by expressing their hurt through song and I felt that was
the best way to deal with my anger, frustration and pain. “Oh Doyley” was
straight from the heart and proved to be a great help in dealing with missing
one of the most important goals ever to be scored at Vicarage Road.

My recovery was complete when I met a Watford fan in the Rookery who had
heard the podcast whilst on holiday, and had spent his week singing my song
with his friends in the Spanish sun. Lloyd, if you are reading – I’m sorry. Oh,
and that goes for Barry Manilow too.”

The most, ummm, how can I put this, experienced member of the team is
Jason and despite being the eldest, his 2010 highlight is all about youth.

“The day we spent watching the Under 18s beat Reading and talking to Nick
Cox (Assistant Academy Director) about the work done at Harefield was a
great experience. The positivity, passion and belief in what they are trying
to achieve was clear to see and it was hugely encouraging. On the pitch,
the youngsters really looked the part and I went home that day safe in the
knowledge that the future of our club is in safe hands”

Here here Jason. So what of my favourite podcast experience? It’s pretty
simple really. A bit like me. As listeners will hopefully recall, we interviewed
Lloyd Doyley in the second podcast. As you’d expect, Lloyd is a great bloke,
but the thing that will stick with me is that we had the same trainers on! As we
took time to congratulate each other on our impeccable taste in sneakers, I
felt a connection with Lloyd – a common bond that will now never be broken.
As a Watford fan, what more could I ask for?

So. Six podcasts done,10,000 downloads, lots of fun and some decent
football along the way too. Thanks to all of those who have contributed
or played a part so far and a massive kiss and cuddle to anyone who has
taken the time to download the podcast and listen to us – we really, really

appreciate it! Please carry on listening and spread the word!

The next podcast is the Christmas special, featuring an interview with the
mighty Malky Mackay. It will be available to download from iTunes or at on Christmas Day.

Come on you Horns!


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Saturday, 11 December 2010


This post was originally published on Saturday 4th December 2010 in the Watford vs Leicester Matchday programme
Rappers De La Soul once said that three was the magic number. Mike Parkin of ‘From the Rookery End’ is starting to think they were right...

For a football club with a three sided ground, it is perhaps appropriate that
the objectives detailed in the recently released Annual Report are described as the ‘three pillars’. Unlike the ancient columns that support the increasingly forlorn looking East stand however, these pillars look like they could be integral to the future of Watford and could be around for some time.

For those of you who haven’t had sight of the annual report, the three
objectives are as follows:

1) To develop and maintain a high-performing player talent base
2) To develop and maintain a profitable and sustainable business
3) To be a true community partner

All too often companies and business come up with airy fairy mission
statements and corporate objectives that don’t appear to mean anything, so it is with some relief that these aims seem to make sense. Even to me.

The first aim is clear. We need to continue to develop good players. With the Harefield Academy continuing to get praise from every corner of the footballing world and graduates regularly plying their trade in the first team, we seem to be on the right track. We’ve been on the right track before and blown it of course, but any set-up that can produce Lloyd Doyley has to be doing something right.

The second target is the trickiest of the three as it mentions our arch nemesis.Money. Watford are the only entity I am aware of with a worse financial track record than me, the pair of us seemingly unable to make a sound financial decision if our lives depended on it. Having said that, at least we’re both trying to do something about it. Watford by cutting their cloth accordingly and me by purchasing fewer Apple products. I think the pair of us would happily admit we have a long way to go.

In trying to ‘become a true community partner’ the Board are illustrating that they are well and truly back in touch with what makes this club great. It’s work with us normal folk. The fans, the public, the local kids.

With initiatives such as the Open Day, Fans Forum and ‘At Your Place’
evenings taking place alongside countless other community events, the club are clearly committed to reaching out to as many of us as possible. Having experienced some of the events myself, I’m happy to say they are succeeding. Long may it continue.

As the famous saying (sort of) goes – ‘Behind every pillar is a great man’ and true enough, there are three men charged with turning the three pillars from ink on paper to reality. Could we have three better men for the job? Personally I doubt it.

In Chief Executive Julian Winter we have a straight talking professional,
who as an ex Huddersfield Town footballer has experience of both sides of the white line. Having been lucky enough to meet Julian on a number of occasions, he has left me feeling confident and assured that we have a firm, fair and focussed CEO. His point blank refusal to even consider giving me a free Watford shirt shows he is commercially astute too!

In leading on pitch matters we have a man who, being Scottish, has overcome considerable challenges to forge not only a successful playing career but also the beginnings of an excellent managerial one. Malky Mackay has acquitted himself well in his time as boss, his dealings in the transfer market have been largely successful, and the team has performed well under his stewardship. He comes across well in interviews and unlike many of his contemporaries has remained dignified in the face of some baffling decisions.

The third man, our Chairman, needs no introduction. The living embodiment of all that is Watford FC. The man whose vision, hard work, knowledge and dedication gave the club virtually all of it’s best memories and honours. Two simple letters should be all you need to hear to know that our club is under the stewardship of people that care. GT.

So, with three pillars, three good men and three usable sides to our beloved old stadium, all seems set fair as we try to stabilise, secure and ultimately succeed. Of course, three points wouldn’t go amiss either…

Come on your Horns!

-- Mike

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Wednesday, 1 December 2010

All-Time Home Grown Watford XI

So my From The Rookery End co-hosts tasked me with coming up with my Watford Home Grown XI. Sounds like a task, so I'll need to set myself some rules.

1 – I'm only going to pick players I've seen play.
2 – Er, well that's it actually.

Now how am I going to pick my eleven? I've been a Hornets fan since 1980, so I've got a fair selection of players to pick from. I need some help. I have my laptop, the internet is a wonderful thing. However, it is prone to hold a few untruths. Thankfully I have my copy of Watford Illustrated Who's Who by Trefor Jones. What that man doesn't know about WFC... and so forth.

In Goal

Now I'm quite a logical man and the logical place to start is in goal. We've bought, borrowed & developed our own custodians over my 30 years of Watford worship and three names immediately spring to mind – David James, Richard Lee & Scott Loach. Well it's no contest. Nice guys never win anything, so there's no place in the team for Richard. Scott, despite his international efforts, still has something to prove. So for me it's DJ. Won the youth cup with WFC and after just a couple of seasons found himself off to Anfield, before the days when top flight clubs raced each other in snapping up all the young talent, only to use them as bench warmers.

Case for the defence?

At right back, Nigel Gibbs. Lloyd Doyley has cult status at the Vic, but he's got a long way to go to match Gibbs whose professional, and Watford FC, playing career lasted more than eighteen (18!) years. My left back is Paul Robinson. I loved Robbo. And so did many others. He's one of those players that fans take to their heart. Tough tackler. Hard worker. West Brom stole him at £375k. I watched him captain his school team to a share of the English Schools U16 Cup at the final in 1995. Less than 18 months later he was making his debut against L*t*n.

That's the full backs, what about the centre backs? Nothing gets the pride flowing more than seeing your captain lift a trophy at Wembley Stadium and only one man has done that whilst wearing Watford yellow. Step forward Robert Page. Captain of the 1999 play-off heroes. He was quite an unassuming captain. Quietly going about his business, letting the likes of Mooney & Johnno grab the attention. I remember a woman approaching me in the pub after the play off final victory parade, asking me to help her start a song for Robert, because no-one else would join in with her! “You'll never turn the Page!” A chance to really indulge in some eighties nostalgia with my other centre back. Steve Terry. Ask any Watford fan over the age of 30 what they remember about Steve and you will probably get the same answer every time – the headband. Surely that's not enough to get in my all time home grown XI? Time to check the book..... he scored twenty goals from centre back. That's more than the rest of my defence put together; and he played less games than the other three. OK, that'll work!

The Men in the Middle… and wings

I'm looking for a traditional 442, so two wingers and two central midfielders. The wingers are a no brainer. The most expensive player in Watford history and a star from the Eighties who has recently been fighting a much more important battle than he did against any top flight left back. Ashley Young on the left and Nigel Callaghan on the right. Ashley went from young hot prospect to £9m+ Premier League star in the blink of an eye. Nigel's career was very different and spent much of his Watford career marauding down the right wing, whilst fans & media lauded a guy called Barnes down the left.

So with flair and skill on the flanks I need some grafters in the middle. And I can't think of any better choices than Kenny Jackett & Gary Porter. Kenny was a one club man, following in his father's footsteps playing for the Golden Boys. He was unfortunately forced to retire at the age of 28, but still racked up over 400 appearances for the club. Gary Porter is another long serving hero from the Graham Taylor era, but his greatest moment was probably in the mid nineties when his hat-trick helped the Hornets turn a 3-0 deficit at home to Bolton in to a 4-3 victory.

The Frontline

That leaves the strikers. I did consider Gifton Noel-Williams, who showed much promise. But I don't think he ever looked as good after being crocked by Paul Butler in 1999. So I've gone for two men who who loved the club so much they came back! Tommy Smith is my first striker. He broke into the team during Graham Taylor's second spell as manager and really established himself during the first Premier League season. That's not bad for starters. But then when he came back he bagged a couple of Player of the Season awards to leave his mark in the memory of Watford fans forever. And the other striker? Who else? He's played more games for Watford than anyone else. He's scored more goals for Watford than anyone else. He was the first to leave the Vic for a million pounds. He's even scored a hat trick for England. He is of course the legend that is Luther Blissett.

So that's my home grown XI. You may agree with some, all or none of my selections – I don't really mind – but I hope it stirs some memories and gets you thinking of your own XI.

Who would in your All-Time Home Grown XI be??

-- Jason

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