Wednesday, 23 February 2011

PODCAST 9: From The Halfway Line

Whilst Watford fans maybe forgiven for wondering where their team’s next victory is coming from, the new From the Rookery End podcast (out today) definitely still has that winning formula.

In this, the ninth edition of the show, Jon, Jason and Mike have secured a hat-trick of interviews with the great and the good of Watford’s past and present. An unsurprisingly upbeat David James spent some time with the boys after he featured in Bristol City’s recent 3-1 win at Vicarage Road, explaining what it is like to play against his former club aswell as a startling admission as to which local team he supports…

The podcast also features former Chairman and current Board member Professor Stuart Timperley, who provided an illuminating insight as to what life is like on the Board as he and his colleagues attempt to steer Watford through yet another challenging period in it’s history. The boys also paid another trip to the training ground where they caught up with midfield maestro Don Cowie, who in an entertaining interview lifted the lid on exactly who is the ‘most Scottish’ of the Hornets increasing number of players and staff from North of the border.

As always the podcast features a light hearted but in depth look at what has happened both on and off the pitch at Vicarage Road over the last month, whilst for the music lovers out there, the boys have recorded a song for flying winger Will Buckley.

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'.


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Tuesday, 22 February 2011


Mike Parkin of the 'From the Rookery End' podcast explains why the International break proves Watford are set for a bright future...

At the risk of sounding like just another boring Dad in a long line of soppy parents, I'm proud of my daughter. At two years old, she is a constant source of delight and amusement. Seeing her walking, talking and giggling is a joy to behold and watching her screw her face up in mock disgust when anyone says 'Luton' is a sight I shall never tire of.

So, what am I getting at? Well, she's growing up fast and judging from the list of Vicarage Road based players that took part in various Internationals during the break a few weeks ago, so too are a number of the next generation of Hornets. Seven Watford players were involved at various levels for their Country, including appearances in the senior Northern Ireland team for defenders Lee Hodson and Adam Thompson, whilst Marvin Sordell marked his England Under 20 debut with an extremely well taken goal.

Youngsters Rob Kiernan, Sean Murray and Connor Smith also turned out for the Republic of Ireland, whilst England regular Scott Loach was an unused substitute for the England under 21's. Throw in ex-Hornet Ashley Young who scored for the England senior team as they won in Denmark and you have a healthy Watford contingent strutting their stuff at the highest level. This pleases me on two counts. Firstly, I love it when a Watford player is named in an International team. The thought of one of the players I watch week in week out sticking one in the net in some far flung land excites me no end. The way I see it, if a Watford player is involved, I'm involved. My excitement in these situations knows (almost) no bounds – as an England supporter, when legendary puffin muncher Heidar Helguson turned out for Iceland, I merrily cheered him and his compatriots on. Against England. Occasionally I lowered myself to wishing Wales well when a certain Kenneth Jackett was a regular for them. There are boundaries though, and it will take more than a friendly appearance away in Japan to get me supporting Scotland. Sorry Don!

The second reason for my pride in seeing Watford players represent their Country is less selfish. It's vindication. It's confirmation that in investing in the Academy and youth development, what Watford are doing is right and that they are doing it well. The seven current players that were capped midweek are all products of the Watford youth system (OK, OK, I know we picked Connor Smith up from a TV show, but he's part of the youth set-up now!) and whilst I don't know for sure, I'm willing to bet that not many clubs of Watford's size will have had that many Internationals on display.

The international break came after a couple of bad results for our beloved Hornets – a run that has continued since, but whilst bad results are never welcome, I can't help but feeling that the emergence of so many Watford players onto the International scene is a result of far greater significance. It highlights the commitment our club has made to the future, recognising that in order to grow we don't need to throw money around, we don't need journeymen or mercenaries, we need to build. (Insert your own East Stand gag here). Of course this strategy doesn't guarantee success and it certainly doesn't guarantee quick success, but it should ensure a future. A good, solid, hard earned future. Isn't that what football should be about? Developing local talent and seeing that talent flourish in the local team? Whilst we watch Manchester City spend the GDP of a small Country on assembling a team that may just scrape a Champions League place, isn't it great to see our club not just investing in youngsters but playing them too?

I'll be as disappointed as you if we fail to beat Bristol City tonight, after all, how Watford perform has a far greater influence on my mood than it probably should. I can see the big picture though, I can see where our club is headed. The best things come to those that wait, and just like I'm proud of my daughter as she takes her first steps in the world, I'm proud of my football club as it continues to grow and evolve. Keep the faith. We'll get there, and what's more, we'll get there the right way.

Come on You Horns!

This post was originally published on Tuesday 22nd February 2011 in the Watford vs Bristol City Matchday programme.


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Thursday, 17 February 2011

Ghosts of Watford FC Past

I'm writing this a few days after the home defeat to Burnley. Forget talk of missed one on one's, a yellow card that should have been red or that own goal. With the scores locked at one-all after 65 minutes, the man to take the game by the scruff of the neck and turn one point into three for his team was Chris Eagles. Another Watford old boy (three times in this case) that we've let go, returns to the Vic and beats us!. Which got us thinking at FTRE, what other ghosts of Watford's past have come back to haunt us?

The first one that comes to mind is a modern day Watford legend. He ruined what was almost a memorable night for the Hornets back in 2006. Thankfully he has been back since, so what follows here isn't our last memory of Heidar Helguson. On Monday 2nd October 2006, Watford were still looking for their first win of the Premier League season. And with the Hornets 2-0 up with 20 minutes remaining, that win looked to be in the bank. But we know football. And after Brian McBride pulled one back, our man Heidar popped up with a headed equaliser (what else) with seven minutes to go to break Watford hearts. Now of course that wasn't the end of the drama, with late, late goals for either team and a final score of three apiece. But the post match focus as far as the Rookery End faithful were concerned was double H. If you read the forums after the game, a lot was made of his fist pumping celebration. A surprisingly large amount of vitriol was chucked in Heidar's direction for daring to celebrate in front of the fans that had worshipped him for so long. However, when you look at the facts, he had been under pressure himself – this was his first Premier League goal of the season. And when that goal is an equaliser in the last 10 minutes in a game where you were 2-0 down to a team without a win to their name, then you'd be forgiven a modest celebration.

From a forgiven ghost to a less popular figure from the Vic's past. Lee Cook declared he would be staying at Vicarage Road in the summer of 2004, after speculation linking him with a move to QPR. Days later, the Hoops fan was joining his boyhood heroes. Not surprisingly, that didn't go down too well with the Rookery faithful. His debut? Well it was as a sub at the Vic of all places. But the game was already over as Sky Sports viewers had witnessed Danny Webber & Bruce Dyer give the Hornets an unassailable 3-0 lead. However, it was the return fixture that haunted Watford that season. I remember it well. The usual pre and post match beers in the Shepherds Bush Walkabout that accompany trips to Loftus Road. Neal Ardley scoring the best goal in the game. The woman with the funny red beret on the train home. My missus' blue tongue from drinking too many bottled sugary vodka drinks. And Lee Cook. It was all about Lee Cook. From the minute I purchased my match day programme, there he was on the front cover and I knew it was going to go horribly wrong. And so it was to be. I can still remember after what must have been the first goal (beer haze muddies the memories a bit here), Cook sitting on the floor after he'd carved open the Watford defence once more, celebrating his team's goal with a clenched fist and a smug look on his face. How that hurt. By that stage the Hornet's were already down to 10 men. A comfortable 3-1 victory for the home side was played out with Cook at the centre of most of QPR's attacking forays. It turned out to be one of the last nails in Ray Lewington's Watford managerial career as he was sacked ten days later, to be replaced by some young upstart called Boothroyd.

Our pitch ain't looking to grand at present. Oh how we can't wait for the egg chasers to clear off at the end of the season. Cue all football fans over the age of forty reminiscing about the pitches of the seventies....... and this thirty-something recalling our pitch in 1988. A mud-bath. Not a problem in February of that year for the Champions elect Liverpool though. In the days when they really were good and the star players wanted to play for them, not leave them, they tore relegation threatened Watford apart at Vicarage Road. The game was over after an hour when John Barnes tapped in the Reds fourth goal of the day. This was Barnes' first trip back 'home' after leaving for £900k in the summer not long after Graham Taylor had left for Aston Villa. By February, GT's replacement Dave Bassett was just a footnote in Watford's history and part time comedian, full time football manger Steve Harrison was left to try and dig Watford out of the mire, physically and metaphorically. Another favourite Watford son, Luther Blissett did manage to grab a consolation at the end. But Barnes and fellow Liverpool rookie for the season Peter Beardsley had already done the damage and the Hornets were on a slippery slide to Division Two.

So there's a few to get you thinking. There were some others that crossed my mind. Danny Webber, who not only scored the winner for Sheffield Utd at Vicarage Road during the 2006-07 Premier League season, he then had the cheek to come back with Darius Henderson when they scored a goal each in a 2-0 win for the Blades at the Vic in 2009. And this wouldn't be a From The Rookery End piece without a mention for John Eustace. Let's not forget his goal against the Hornets whilst on loan at Derby County at the end of the 2009 season.

Now let us know of those ex-Hornets who have haunted you as a Watford fan over the years!

- Jason

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Everyone loves panto, me more then most. Even now, aged 31, I am the loudest to shout "HE'S BEHIND YOU" and when the bad guy comes on I'm the first and loudest to "BOOOOOOOOOO".

Panto isn't the only place where you hear booing. We've started to hear it in the last week at Vicarage Road. Why? Well it's probably due to our drop in form and a particularly poor first half performance against Preston. The Watford Observer reported that Malky understood. We 'pay our money' to watch the game and we've been very supported of the big man and the team.

Yes, I completely understand why fans do it - but I don't like it. It's not the sentiment I have a problem with. Fans have to express their frustration and disappointment. It's the noise I don't like. I always go back to those panto moments.

So over to you... what noise should football fans make?

We could all 'tut' like a school teacher or make the noise of a cow going 'Mooooooo' - It's a similar sound, but a little more light-hearted. Maybe we should all join together no mass for a massive Family Fortune incorrect answer "ERGH ER" (I know that spelling isn't right, but you get the idea).

There has got to be a more constructive noise we can make.

Leave your suggestions for noises in the blog below and we'll bring the best ones to life in the next podcast.


-- Jon

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Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Missing In Action

This post was originally published on Tuesday 15th February 2011 in the Watford vs Preston Matchday programme

Apart from having the same title, this photo has no relevance to this post.
 It's just an excuse for us to have a photo of Chuck Norris on the blog

From the Rookery End podcast presenter Mike Parkin hates missing Watford games, but read on to learn why being away from The Vic isn’t always a bad thing...

You may not have admitted it to yourself yet, but we aren’t like normal folk. We’ll do what they do – we’ll go on holidays, visit friends and relatives, go to the cinema and spend an unfeasible amount of time in the pub, but as football fans, for us, there is always a caveat. Before people like us commit to anything we will always utter the supporter’s stock sentence. “Sounds good, but I’ll have to check if Watford are playing...”

I’m sure that you, like me, will have turned down plenty of enticing offers of fun and frolics to attend instead of a football match. I’m equally certain that the better or more glamorous the event you turned down, the less entertaining or rewarding the football was. It doesn’t deter us though. Football remains paramount. Sometimes though it’s unavoidable. Sometimes the unthinkable comes to pass. Sometimes, you have to miss the football.

As a fresh faced youngster it would have taken nothing short of a Nuclear explosion at Vicarage Road to keep me away, and even then I’d have probably gone to double check the game wasn’t on. Now, with family commitments and other inconveniences such as friends’ weddings or landmark birthdays, I have accepted that occasionally my Rookery end seat will go empty.

The most regular reason for my absence isn’t really cause for complaint. I’m lucky enough to get away on the occasional holiday and on reflection, many of my favourite Watford memories have come whilst on foreign shores. For example, if you think it is nail-biting sitting at the ground, watching whilst Watford try to cling on to a slim advantage, you should try waiting for the BBC sport web page to load whilst in a backstreet internet cafe in Thailand. I’ve never felt so tense. Admittedly it may have been the constant attempts of young urchins to pickpocket me, or the nagging doubt that my foray onto the world wide web was going to cost me all my holiday spending money, but the sense of elation that I felt when I finally learned that Watford had triumphed away at Portman Road will live with me forever.

In September 2007 I was in Egypt. What felt like a million miles away at Vicarage Road, Watford were in action against Southampton. Luckily for me the game was on TV so I was able to watch it. Unluckily for me, the only place we could find showing it was a rather quiet and reserved restaurant. The sound wasn’t on and the patrons were far more interested in their dinner than they were in Doyley. I therefore had to watch the drama unfold in relative silence – not really my style as those who have encountered me at a game will testify. This became increasingly hard as the game reached it’s conclusion. 1-2 down with 10 minutes to go Darius Henderson equalised before bundling home an injury time winner. Back home in Blighty the Rookery end went berserk. I almost followed suit before remembering my sedate surroundings. I managed to keep quiet, but I simply HAD to celebrate. So, I did what any bloke in my situation would do. I removed my flip-flop and in a state of unbridled joy, flung it across the restaurant. As confused and slightly concerned Egyptian faces turned towards me, I realised my ‘celebration’ may have been slightly ill judged. We didn’t hang around.

Some years before, I was in Crete with a group of friends. It was the summer of 2001 and Watford had appointed Luca Vialli. One of the exciting off-shoots of this doomed appointment was a pre-season friendly away at Inter Milan. This already surreal fixture turned truly bonkers when my brother arrived at our holiday apartment with a huge grin on his face. He’d found a bar showing the game. Two hours later I was sat in the sunshine with beer and my best mates, watching Watford play one of the biggest clubs in the world. Being away when Watford play. What’s not to like?

However, as Dorothy said, ‘There’s no place like home’ and I’m as glad and excited as ever to be back here at the Vic for this game against Preston.
Come on You Horns!

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Sunday, 13 February 2011

Never too high, never too low...

No-one likes losing. Especially when you have enough chances to win the game at a canter and definitely not when Danny Fox is on the opposing side. It doesn't help when the previous four games haven't yielded a win, but at times like this it's worth remembering Malky Mackay's oft used quote - 'Never too high, never too low'.

The statement is a simple but effective one, a quick and straightforward reminder to always keep emotions in check. As supporters, we have both a responsibility and a right to voice our opinion when things are going wrong. We also have a responsibility to remain able to see the bigger picture and to recognise that whilst things aren't currently going our way on the pitch, our club is most definitely moving forward.

We should be rightly proud and excited by many of the performances that Watford have turned in this season, we've recorded some amazing results and have been treated to some fantastic football already. However, the ongoing takeover talks are a sobering reminder of our precarious financial state, and the fact that 2nd year scholar Adam Thompson made his league debut at right back is an illustration of whata couple of injuries can mean for a small squad like ours.

Whilst the introduction of Thompson should serve to keep our feet on the ground, it also provides confirmation that the club is set up for a bright future. Thompson was one of six Watford players who represented their Country at various levels in midweek. Thompson and Hodson played for the senior Northern Ireland team, Marvin Sordell scored on his England U20 debut, Rob Kiernan played a full 90 minutes for the Republic of Ireland U21 team, whilst Sean murray and Connor Smith both featured heavily for theU19s. Six youngsters that Watford have nurtured, playing International football. I'd love to know how many other clbs boast that sort of record.

It's worth remembering that at the start of the season, we weren't just the pundits pick for relegation, a lot of our very own fans, me included, concluded that staying up this season should be an achievement. With our lack of resources, nothing else would have been sensible. Well, guess what? Nothing has changed. We're still skint, struggling to make ends meet with a three sided ground and having to throw youngsters in at the deep end from time to time. However, the emergence of our youngsters, the decent performances from our few experienced players and the promise of a takeover indicate that the tide is changing. It's just changing slowly.

I'm not suggesting we should be happy with defeats. Losing is always painful, no matter the situation. It is important that we take a step back from time to time though, in order look at the bigger picture. It's easy to get caught up in mistakes and missed chances but it isn't these small incidents that will shape our future. It's the hard work and forward thinking of those working tirelessly to safeguard our club that will do that.

Have faith. Together we'll get there.

Come on You Horns!


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Saturday, 12 February 2011

Transfer Terror

This post was originally published on Saturday 12th February 2011 in the Watford vs Burnley Matchday programme


From The Rookey End co-presenter Mike Parkin doesn’t just dislike transfer deadline day, he dislikes transfers...

As I sit writing this page, the madness that is the January transfer window has just come to an end. Brian Swanson of Sky Sports News can recharge his 5 mobile phones (that never seem to ring), the guy doing the live BBC text updates can stop trying to make people believe that there have been sightings of Messi in Macclesfield, Newcastle United can begin working out exactly who is going to play up front for them and clubs up and down the country can stick their fax machines back in the cupboard until next deadline day.

I’m sure even the most optimistic of Watford fans won’t have expected any big name signings, instead following the day’s events with a mixture of nerves and apprehension, hoping and praying that none of Watford’s top performers left Vicarage Road for the promise of riches and the place on a Premier League bench. I on the other hand am a bit different. Whilst I certainly didn’t want to see Danny Graham sign for West Ham or Lloyd shipped off to Barcelona, my main concern was who we may bring in. I’m scared of new signings.

I know it sounds strange, after all, most successful teams are built on the back of key signings - players who strengthen and bolster the squad. No Watford fan could argue how important the signings of Barnes, Coton, Marlon King et al have been to our recent history. The problem is though, we’ve signed some stinkers. For every McClelland there was a Morallee; for every Rostron or Rice there was a Rinaldi or Rumble. Some of these dreadful signings took place during my formative years and three of them have scarred me for life.

As a wide eyed young Watford fan who started coming to games in the 80’s, I was spoiled. Watford was home to some fantastic players and as a naive kid, I saw no reason why this should ever change. So, when Watford made a signing, I expected them to be good. Don’t ask me why, but the first signing I remember us making was Richard Hill. He was a striker who had been performing well for Northampton Town and we signed him in 1987. Despite his matching blonde mullett and bushy moustache, I had high hopes for the new man. He was a Watford player now and as far as I was concerned that made him good automatically. Richard Hill played 4 times for Watford and didn’t score a single goal. My boyhood mind dismissed it as a blip. He must have been ill or something. Anyway, I had a new transfer to occupy my mind now...

Trevor Senior signed for Watford from Reading in 1987 too, but he was of different stock to Hill. Senior had banged in over 100 goals for the Elm Park outfit in just over 150 games. He sounded good and I was excited he was a Hornet. If I told you that the terrace chant for our Trevor was ‘Ee-Aww, Ee-Aww, Senior must score’ you’ll get a vague idea as to how his career panned out. We flogged him to Middlesbrough after 24 appearances and a single goal. We’d signed another dud.

I was now suspicious. We were parting with players like John Barnes, David James and Mark Falco and replacing them with players who I wouldn’t pick for my playground kick about. Despite this early observation, our transfer policy must have improved somewhat as I don’t remember us purchasing anyone quite as bad as those two. Or at least I didn’t until we signed goalkeeper Perry Digweed. Digweed looked like someone's Dad, and played like someone’s Grandad. I would have felt sorry for him if his bungling performances didn’t make me so angry. Luckily for my health and my football club, he retired (20 years too late) in 1995.

These three horrors have stuck with me and are clearly responsible for my immediate and irrational concern upon the announcement of a new arrival. Luckily, with Graham Taylor and Malky steering the ship, the likes of Hill, Senior and Digweed are a gruesome thing of the past. You still won’t see me getting excited about transfer deadline day. though.

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Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Twitterage Road

First came MySapce. Then it was Facebook. Now the online communication tool of choice is undoubtedly Twitter. The short sharp updates have proved successful with people from all walks of life, allowing regular folk such as you and I to share online messages with the likes of Barack Obama, Tiger Woods, Stephen Fry and should the mood take you - Jedward.

There is a fair smattering of Watford FC related folk on Twitter - the Watford Observer is represented by Observer Owl, myself and the other From the Rookery End boys Jon and Jason are on there and the legendary Watford Badge Moose provides official tweets from inside Vicarage Road.

On Saturday afternoon that Watford presence expanded. Seemingly bored on the way home from Nottingham Forest, Lloyd Doyley, Danny Graham, Andi Weimann and Rene Gilmartin joined previous Twitter users Marvin Sordell and Aidy Mariappa as members of the site.

I think it's a good thing - the chance to interact with our heroes isn't something that comes around too often, so take the chance to follow them and hear what they have to say. Talk to them - if you've got a question or something interesting to say, the chances are they'll get back to you. It's really pretty simple!

Of course there are a large number of Watford players yet to take the plunge and I can't help but wonder if it is because they can't think of a decent username. So, to help them along, I've come up with a few suggestions. (If you aren't familiar with Twitter, just click on any of the links in this article to get a feel for the names in use across the site) I'm sure you can do better though, so get your thining cap on and post a comment with the perfect Twitter name for your favourite Watford player. Who knows, one of the boys may pick it up!

To get you started here are a few I came up with. I know you can do better and even if you don't fancy Twitter, you can use it to exercise your imagination!

Troy Deeney - Troymenotdanny
Martin Taylor - TinyT
Ross Jenkins - Secondcoming

You get the idea. So, over to you!

Come on You Horns!


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Friday, 4 February 2011

The Hornets who never played!

Amongst the excitement of last month's transfer window occurred a transaction insignificant to most football fans and probably not much more significant to us Hornets supporters. Jure Travner was handed over to a St. Mirren team that had already had his services on loan since the start of the season. And despite being a Watford player since July 2009, Jure had never played a competitive first team game for them. This got FTRE thinking.

And so here's my Watford XI that have never played a competitive game for Watford.

So rules first. Actually, no rules. Otherwise the side would be full of insignificant players of little interest. Maybe. So my XI will include school boys, youth teamers, reserve team players, trialists, etc, etc.

In goal and I've got to make a decision already. Lee Grant is a reasonable keeper & was a youth player at Watford as well as being a Hornets fan, but I'm going for bench warmer Yves Makubu Makalambay, who Aidy Boothroyd signed on loan from Chelsea in 2006. Now we've had many a young starlet on loan from one of the big premier league clubs. And I always enjoy seeing their careers progress. Yves is no different and he has now reached the level of, er, Championship bench warmer. Just now at Swansea (funny that, ex Chelsea, Brendan Rodgers, etc.) instead of Watford.

Defenders. Wow, this was quite hard. Apart from at left back. He is our inspiration for creating this team, so welcome aboard Jure Travner. At right back I've gone for Ben Herd. A product of the Watford youth scheme whose career has been played out at the lower league level. His WFC circle was somewhat completed earlier this year when he provided opposition for the Golden Boys in the first round of the League Cup at Aldershot. The centre back positions get really interesting. The first ended up captaining England! At cricket! Mike Gatting used to turn out for Watford's reserves. Now I don't know what position he played, but let's be honest, he has always carried a bit. I can't see him ever springing an offside trap, racing down the wing or running box to box. So let's stick him in at centre back. His partner there is a former trialist who wore yellow in a friendly against Borehamwood. Sol Bamba seemed set to sign until the Hornet's pulled out at the last minute for reasons unknown. He has recently joined Sven's Leicester City (I swear that's what they are officially called these days) and has banged in a couple of goals for them.

The midfield starts with a tragic story. No Watford fan of the time will ever forget how the new season anticipation and excitement was brought to a shuddering halt on 9th August 2003 when news filtered through of the death of Man Utd loanee Jimmy Davis in a car crash. Football seemed a little less important that day. Martin Devaney's Watford career was a bit bizarre to say the least. His signing from Cheltenham was intriguing if not headline making. And as the weeks went past, his failure to make the starting eleven led to rumours of rifts & fighting. Once it became clear he was never going to be even a bit part of what turned out to be a promotion story, he was offloaded to Barnsley. In a strange twist of irony, all three sides were promoted via the play-offs that season. Now here comes a really unusual selection. My research tells me that Glenn Hoddle, no less, was a "youth player" with Watford. By research I mean I saw it on Wikipedia. So I did some further research (Google) and found lots of articles that had blatantly lifted the words from his Wiki entry. So if anyone can back this up with additional info, please do. In the mean time, as he was a pretty good footballer, he can stay in the team.

Now I've gone for a 4-3-3 formation. Partly because I like attacking football, partly because the first three players I thought of were forwards. Junior was another of those early Boothroyd signings that promised something. Not a lot, but pre season brought hope that he would give us something to cheer. Instead the rumour mill was put to heavy use again as some dodgy documentation and permit problems brought a swift end to his Watford career. Instead, Aidy had to settle for signing a couple of strikers called Darius and Marlon. Now Aidy dispensed of all of the hassle and effort of signing our next striker. Instead, Les Ferdinand was a Hornet on non contract terms. We kind of hoped we'd see him spring off the bench to score a cracker or two, just like he did in his Premier League days. But he never made it onto the pitch. Only into this team. And so to the man who makes up the eleven. We've come full circle. Think back to last month's transfer window and the man who moved from Hoffenheim to West Ham for undisclosed millions (probably). Demba Ba was given a Hornet's contract by Ray Lewington in 2004 but Mr Boothroyd (again) decided he wasn't good enough not long after his arrival at The Vic.

And that's my team. I'd like to thank you for reading this, and Aidy Boothroyd for supplying half the team.

-- Jason

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Thursday, 3 February 2011

The good, the bad and the foggy

So, after nine games unbeaten and seven wins in a row, we are now without a win in three. Defeat in an amazing game at Cardiff was followed by a disappointing performance at a freezing Vicarage Road against Brighton FA Cup, whilst Tuesday’s draw with Crystal Palace was a typically joyless affair. With Nottingham Forest lying in wait at the City Ground on Saturday, I doubt many people will be selecting an away win on their pools coupon.

Tough times eh?

Well, no. Not really.

If we cast our minds back to the start of the season, it’s fair to say there wasn’t much optimism about. Our financial plight was well documented, our squad was thin and our ground was a three sided tribute to shabby chic. Six months into the season and I think it’s worth reminding ourselves that the situation remains tricky. We’re still faced with the challenges we faced back in the summer and whilst there have been whispers of a takeover, nothing concrete has materialised and the future of the club is still uncertain.

Whilst things appear to be moving slowly off the pitch, on it we’ve been treated to some fantastic stuff. Of course there have been off days and some shockers, but with a team that are on average young enough to be my kids and that cost less to assemble then my credit card debt, what do you expect?

Already this season we’ve had some memorable moments, winning away at Norwich and QPR, the home demolition of Cardiff and the humbling of Robbie Savage. We’ve been on a long unbeaten run and have basked in the plaudits that rightfully came the way of our Manager and team. We’ve scored a hatful of goals and are playing some great football in doing so. It can’t always be like that. Not yet at least. So if we do go through a tough patch, remember the good times, roll your sleeves up and support the team. You’ve got to have the bad times to appreciate the good…

I’m not suggesting that as fans we should accept poor performances. I’m not suggesting that our players should be beyond reproach because they are young or didn’t cost much money. I’m not suggesting that there shouldn’t be healthy discussion about who should be in the team and who shouldn’t. I’m suggesting we remember what this team has achieved already this year. Remember how far we’ve come. Remember that every time one of those players pulls on the shirt, they do so ready to give 100%.

This is a team we can be proud of and believe in. They give of their best for us, let’s give of our best for them.

Come on You Horns!


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Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Behind Enemy Lines

This post was originally published on Tuesday 1st February 2011 in the Watford vs Crystal Palace Matchnight programme


Co-presenter of the ‘From the Rookery End’ podcast Mike Parkin explains what it’s like following Watford abroad…

There are a number of reasons why it’s good to be a football supporter. Time out of the house and a perfect excuse to avoid shopping expeditions. The ability to strike up a conversation with anyone in the world by simply asking ‘Who do you support? The opportunity to sing, scream and shout in public without getting arrested. All good stuff. There is however one reason for being a football fan that stands out above all others. The away day.

Talk to any football fan and they will talk passionately about their home ground. I’m no exception -I’ve used this very page to profess my love for Vicarage Road. If you take the time to dig a bit deeper beneath the surface though, you’ll find that the stories relayed with the most relish involve visits to away grounds. It could be the programme seller with webbed hands in Norwich. The time you walked into the wrong pub in Birmingham. The time it was just you and a handful of others getting drenched on an open terrace on a Tuesday night in Plymouth. Stuff always happens on away trips.

In the main, football fans are a perverse, masochistic bunch, so when it comes to away trips the further the distance and the more awkward the travel schedule, the better. Points aren’t officially awarded, badges not issued, but don’t expect to be taken seriously unless you’ve got home from an away game well into the day after you set off.

Planning for these sojourns across the Country begins as soon as the fixture computer has done its thing. With eager eyes, a number of checks are quickly made. Where are Watford on the first and last day of the season? Where are we playing on Boxing Day? Then, attention turns to when the Hornets are in action at venues I’ve never visited before. This season, one particular fixture stood out for me. Not only was it an away game at a new(ish) venue, it was an away game in a different Country. Come hell or high water, I was going to Cardiff.

After discussion with my co-presenters Jason and Jon it was decided that we’d record the next podcast in Cardiff and a plan to head to the South West for the weekend was hatched. Nothing can beat the tingle of excitement you get when looking forward to an away game. Imagining a sea of fellow Hornets descending on an unsuspecting town or City, whilst their unfashionable, unfancied outfit puts the home team in their place will never get boring.

As this fixture grew closer it became apparent that it had the potential to be a cracker. Watford memorably beat Cardiff 4-1 at Vicarage Road in December and won the four games that followed in a winning run that now stood at animpressive seven games. The pre-match talk was all about what Watford could go on to achieve this year and the general consensus was that if we could get any sort of result at Cardiff, we could begin to dream.

With this in mind, you could be forgiven for thinking the realisation of a 4-2 defeat would be cause for disappointment and a return to reality. Not so. As is so often the case, the score masked the true story of the game and despite conceding three early goals, Watford bossed much of the encounter, creating numerous chances, silencing the majority of the 23,000 inside the
imaginatively named ‘Cardiff City Stadium’. The game, whilst not yielding three points, rewarded those fans that travelled with something far more valuable. The knowledge that this Watford team doesn’t give up. This team battles, scraps and works hard from the first whistle to the last. This team plays hard but fair and does it with no little style and flair. This is a team we can wholeheartedly believe in.

This particular away trip may not have ended up exactly how we would have liked, but for those who perhaps still doubted the credentials of the current crop of Hornets, it was more than worth it. Oh, and we met Joe Calzaghe too. Can’t be bad.

-- Mike

Hear the full story of our trip to Cardiff, along with an interview with Martin Taylor, a song for Watford starlet Piero Mingoia and details of how Mike’s chat with Craig Bellamy went, in Podcast 8 which is OUT NOW! Available at iTunes and

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