Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Beauty and the East (Stand)

So, we have a time-scale. In a recent interview with the Watford Observer, club owner Laurence Bassini has said that the East stand will be demolished this summer. The last game the dear old structure will see is Watford's league fixture with Middlesbrough and I don't mind admitting I'm a little bit sad about it. Regular readers of this column will know that I'm superstitious, well, to add to my list of daft character traits, I'm a bit sentimental too.

I think it's for this reason that I'm a big of a fan of memorabilia. (I know, I know, superstitious, sentimental, a collector – my partner is one lucky girl!) I like something tangible to go with my memories. It's why my loft is chock full of programmes, my drawers are stuffed full of tickets from every gig, sporting event or attraction known to man and why my wardrobe is bursting with commemorative t-shirts and replica strips from down the ages. Despite their lack of  financial or in many cases aesthetic value, I just can't let go.

Of course, I have my favourites. I've got a tennis ball that Rafa Nadal served with at the Beijing Olympics. I've got a scale model of Wembley stadium made out of part of the demolished twin towers. I've got a signed photograph of Diego Maradonna. I've got a couple of blades of grass from Craven Cottage, plucked  from the pitch the day we secured the Second Division title. I've got a lock of John Eustace's hair. OK, the last one isn't true, but you get the picture.

I think the reason I hang on to all this stuff is that I recognise how precious memories are. For example, how quickly did the fun and games of the Leicester game fade after the the 4-0 pasting at Selhurst Park? Pretty quickly I'll vouch. Time moves on relentlessly, and all too often it's easy to forget the moment or those that have past. Of course I'll be delighted when Vicarage Road is complete – having the only three sided ground in the top two divisions is far from ideal, but I'll also take time to mourn the passing of the once great East stand – the last part of the ground that saw our meteoric rise up the divisions. We can only hope that whatever replaces it sees as many good times as its predecessor.

Watford in 100 objects: If you have a piece of Watford memorabilia, it could be just the thing for our 'Watford in 100 objects' project – a list containing 100  items that define our great football club. If you've got something that you think might fit the bill, get in touch at


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Sunday, 26 February 2012

The Beer Drinking Pie Eater

I know this won't go down well with some Watford fans, but I wouldn't have begrudged Malky Mackay victory in the Carling Cup Final this afternoon. I was quite apathetic towards the game. I didn't really know who I wanted to win. I don't like Cardiff that much. Not so much over last summer. More to do with when they took Terry Burton & Neal Ardley from us, yet apparently didn't have any money and were supposedly close to going into administration. However, the way that Liverpool have conducted themselves during the much discussed Suarez affair doesn't sit well with me. They were the greatest team in Europe when I was growing up and their recent behaviour doesn't seem becoming of them. I hadn't planned my day so that I could get to watch the final, but it panned out like that anyway.

Don't get me wrong, it would have hurt to see “our manager” winning a trophy with another team, just as it did when Brendan Rodgers won the play off final with Swansea City last season. But Malky's a good manager and having been lucky enough to talk to him through our podcasts, he is a thoroughly nice chap to boot. So had he been celebrating whilst I write this piece, somewhere inside, I'd have felt happy for him. Now at this point, many of you are listing the reasons why I shouldn't even give him the time of day, let alone feel sorry for him.

“He's a Judas \ traitor.” Why? There's no loyalty in football these days. Lee Clarke's recent sacking is testament to that. Had Malky not done as well as he did during his time at Watford, fans would have called for his head. In fact, towards the end of last season, there were some fans that didn't think he was good enough. We didn't finish the season too well and was oft criticised on forums for his resistance to making substitutions when things didn't seem to be going to plan. I attended one of the At Your Place sessions where a few fans expressed their disappointment at his tactic of keeping all outfield players back when defending corners. Yet when he left, we were all disappointed.

“But we gave him his chance.” We did, eventually. But who's we? There's only one consistent at football clubs. And that's us, the fans. By the time Malky left, the man responsible for running the club at the time of his appointment, Julian Winter, had seen most of his control removed and Laurence Bassini was slowly putting into place his plans for domination at Vicarage Road. What did Malky owe Big Baz? Not much at all.

“So, what about us fans?” The lack of a goodbye & thanks for your support when he moved west, did wrangle a bit. We've since been told he wasn't allowed to comment about his time at the club in the aftermath, but I'm not sure how that prevented him from showing his gratitude. As football fans we often feel it's us versus the world. But sometimes we need to take a step back and remember whilst Watford FC may be near the centre of our worlds, we're not the only team in the footballing arena. We have to appreciate that if one of our players, manager or staff get the opportunity to better themselves and earn more money in doing so, then they are likely to take it. Let's not kid ourselves, Cardiff City is currently a better stage for Malky to display his talents on than Watford FC.

“And then to top it all off, he came back and took Don Cowie, backroom staff & transfer targets.” And that was very hard to swallow. Hurting more and more as each headline was revealed. Who knows, it may not have stopped. Marvin could have ended up there and I was thankful he didn't. What happens in the summer will be anyone's guess. The Bluebirds may have their eyes on other Watford based targets. But why shouldn't he have done that? He had staff he enjoyed working with. Players who he knew he could get the most out of. Why should he worry about Watford's prospects for the season over and above whether he could make a fist of it in South Wales? How would he have explained to his employees that he passed up on his first choice players because he felt sorry for the people that used to pay his wages? I didn't particularly feel sorry for Pompey or Ipswich when Sean took members of their staff to fill his backroom either.

Like I said, I don't like Cardiff. And now I don't mind admitting I'm jealous of them too. They have a good manager. If things were different, that may have been us at Wembley today. But we couldn't give Malky want he wanted to move forward in his managerial career and someone else could. I don't dislike him for it and I wish him luck. And now I've got that off my chest, I can concentrate on the team I support again. Come on you 'Orns.


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Friday, 17 February 2012

Ebb and Flow of My Mood

I was in the pub, chatting to a mate the other day. He asked me "How are Watford doing?". I always find it hard to answer this. Yes, it's easy to rattle through some recent results, however it's hard to paint the full picture of my current mood as a Watford fan. Recent results do effect this, but there are many reasons, from many games that have resulted in my mood at any given point. I don't have the time to say a thousand words to paint the picture I want... not after a couple of beers.

So... I had a go at painting a picture, well a graph. I call it my 'Football Fan Mood Graph'.

Here's how it works.

If we win we go up 1, if we lose we go down 1 and if we draw we stay where we were. 

You'll notice it's a continuum and doesn't distinguish between league or cup. My mood doesn't change just because we won or lost in the cup - a win is a win and a lose is a lose.

Of course there are other ways I could present my mood. I could generate a win percentage (PCT) like american sports:

                         Wins           =   10  = 0.322
Total No Games       31

Of course I should also times that by 100 to get a percentage, but for some reason Americans don't do it. And they don't do draws and my positivity is definitely higher than 32% (Yes, I have timed it by 100 and rounded to 2 decimal places - it doesn't take long Yanks!).

I could track the clubs league position throughout the season. The new BBC Sport website has some great new features and this is one of them:

Again this doesn't reflect my mood as well as my 'Football Fan Mood Graph'.

So here it is, my new invention, a 'Football Fan Mood Graph'. Is it interesting and useful? Probably just for me!



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Sunday, 12 February 2012

LDX: Lloyd Doyley's Gameshow Extravaganza

We've all got heroes. We've all got people we look up to and admire. Not all of us get to meet them, and those that do are often left disappointed – the reality is usually that the sportsmen, musicians and actors we idolise are at best just like us, and at worst rude and boring. It's not always the case though. I'm proud to report that I've met one of my heroes and that he was as much of a star as I'd hoped. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Lloyd Doyley.

Having met and interviewed Lloyd for the 'From the Rookery End' podcast on a number of occasions, me and the rest of the team were delighted when we were invited to play a part in the organising of Lloyd's testimonial year – LDX 2012. Watford's versatile defender and part-time goal machine is as likeable off the pitch as he is hard working on it, funny, generous, warm and delighted to be representing the Hornets for a living. Lloyd also has a young family and is proud of the way Watford are so welcoming to supporters of all ages so it seemed fitting that the first event of his testimonial year (the first of many by the way – watch this space!) should be one that will provide a day to remember for Hornets fans of all ages... The Lloyd Doyley Gameshow Extravaganza!

The idea was born when a Watford supporter with a familiar face agreed to play a part in Lloyd's big year. TV presenter and comedian Andy Collins has presented television shows such as Family Fortunes and Garden SOS, as well as being a pantomime regular, but when not in front of the camera he loves nothing more than watching the Hornets and was only too happy to bring his expertise and infectious energy to proceedings.

With an experienced gameshow host on board it seemed sensible to explore the idea of a gameshow themed event and it quickly became clear that it wasn't a good idea, it was a great one! Andy has been working closely with Lloyd and the organising committee to come up with a great event, one that is suitable for all ages and that will give you the chance to play alongside Watford FC players and staff in a range of different, exciting and fun gameshow style events. You'll also be able to win one-off, money can't buy prizes as well as meeting your Hornets heroes!

The event will take place on Sunday 18 March 2012 between 2:30pm and 5:30pm and will be hosted at 'Area' in Watford town centre. Usually a nightclub, for one day only the venue will be open to Watford fans whatever your age, providing a unique and fun way for you and your family to see Lloyd and his team-mates as they have never been seen before.

We can’t wait!

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