Wednesday, 9 May 2012


Watford’s 2011/12 season may have only concluded a week or so ago, but for many, thoughts are already turning to the start of the next campaign. One of the most eagerly awaited dates of the summer is of course the magical day on which the new fixtures are announced, but this year we have a treat. We already know what the first game at Vicarage Road will be – and it’s a bit special.

On Saturday 4 August, Watford welcome Premier League Tottenham Hotspur to WD18. On Saturday 4 August, we show how much we value loyalty and hard work. On Saturday 4 August, we celebrate Lloyd Doyley’s testimonial fixture.

Born and raised a stone’s throw from the North London home of our opponents to be, Lloyd has now appeared in the yellow of Watford a staggering 370 times in a first team career spanning 11 years, and has turned in performances for six different managers (How quickly can you name them?). In an era dominated by big money transfers, agents and an increasingly rapid turnover of playing staff, this is a remarkable achievement and in August you and your fellow Watford fans have a chance to come out in force and say thanks to one of the clubs most loyal ever servants.

In talking to From the Rookery End recently, Lloyd looked back on his ten years and reminisced about a couple of the more bizarre moments in his career.

“In a home game with Palace, I committed handball. It wasn’t your average handball though. The ball was going to clear my head and I reached up and caught it. The next thing I know there were three or four Palace players steaming towards me, so I just threw the ball out of play and ran!
There was another weird one this season when I was sent off in the home game against Leicester. It was all a bit crazy – we really needed the win and we were hanging on at the end. They won a free kick right on the edge of the box, and the next thing I knew the ref was showing me the red card. It was surreal, because as you know – I was nowhere near that foul. For a while I thought the ref would change his mind, but he didn’t. It was very odd.”

Presumably Lloyd is hoping for happier, slightly less controversial memories against Tottenham in August?

“It’s an honour to have played for Watford for so long and I really hope the day is one to remember for Watford supporters. They’ve been amazing to me throughout my career and I hope they know what a difference that makes to a player. Having the fans on your side is a huge boost.
I can’t believe I’m in my testimonial season and am really excited that this game has been arranged – I can’t wait. I’m originally from the area, so it will be great to have Spurs here. Obviously we ran them very close in the Cup, so hopefully we can get a bit of revenge this time round.

I hope a few Watford fans can make it, I’d love to have the chance to say thanks for the support – although I can’t promise another goal!”

As a pre-cursor to the main event, there will be a Hornets Legends V Spurs Legends game, ensuring that for one day only Vicarage Road will be swarming with Hornets heroes both past and present, with a few familiar faces from White Hart Lane added to the mix for good measure. It certainly won’t be a day to forget the autograph book.

Tickets will be on sale soon, so keep your eyes on the ‘From the Rookery End’ site, as well as the clubs Facebook and Twitter feeds, as well as which will all have details as soon as they are available. Until then - Saturday 4 August. Get the date in your diary.

2012 - It’s the year of the Doyley!

Come on You Horns.

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Monday, 7 May 2012

Many Thanks from Ross

We received a wonderful email from Ross Jenkins earlier. It was directed at all Watford fans so we thought it was best that we post it up here for all to see!

Dear Supporters

I have been back to Watford to visit the end of season awards night and be placed in the ex Watford FC Players Hall of Fame . Needless to say it was an emotional evening for me but I was well supported as always by Luther and Ian Bolton. The warmth and affection shown to me by all those who were present during our rise to 2nd position in the League made clear to me the effect I had made to so many people's lives. The evening made me very proud and my speech was well received.I now return to Spain with all those past memories so fresh in my mind ,so I now pass on my very best wishes to you all,for your assistance and support throughout my whole 10 years. I noticed a very good rapport amongst the present players and hope very much that this carries forward to another successful period and return to the top flight.

Fondest regards to you all and thanks for your reception on New Year's Eve

Ross xxx

Ross is one of the TRUE Watford Legends and it's been good to see him at the ground this season and his induction to the Watford FC Hall of Fame is long over due. We hope to interview Ross on the podcast next season as we're sure he has a story or two for our list of Watford in 100 Objects.

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Thursday, 3 May 2012

Football Fan Mood Graph - End of 2011-12 Season

Back in February I introduced you to my Football Fan Mood Graph. It is my way to explain the ups and downs of my mood through a football season. A league table can only tell you so much; this tells a fuller picture of how approachable I am on a Saturday evening.

Here is 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. For me, 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.

So after starting the season on Zero and playing 49 games (46 in the league, 2 in the FA Cup and 1 in the League Cup) here is my Football Fan Mood Graph for the 2011-2012 season.

So we started at zero and we finish on 1, which sort of makes sense for a team finishing half way up the League. To some, especially West Ham fans, that might not sound like a good season, but the graph does show all the ups and downs of our journey through the Championship this season. It shows a team that has come good after a very rocky start and that they found good performance from a bit of help from loanees and once an established and regular starting 11 the Watford owned boys could get a result.

The two most interesting points are of course the highest and the lowest. At our lowest I was worried Dyche could be in line to be sacked. The Peterborough and Brighton wins saved him and allowed him to get the team how he wanted and for several players to establish themselves fully. I feel that continuity and giving teams time to develop is a something missing from lots of football clubs these days.

My true joy comes in the strong finish to the season. Okay there are a lot of draws in there, but it is vastly improved from the poor finish we had last season. You have to love the fact we finished the season on the win, but the biggest joy is that we beat Leeds at their place!

I wonder if it fits your mood through the season and if you finished on the high I did?



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Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Championship 2011-12: the bloggers' end-of-season report

From The Rookery End's Mike Parkin has been asked again to contribute to The Guardian's Football League Blog. You can read his look back on Watford's season below, and check out the feelings of fans from every other Champtionship club on their site.
Dream or nightmare? This season may not have had the highs of last year, but looking back it's clear Watford's 2011-12 has been greater than the sum of its parts. Under a new manager and shorn of pivotal performers such as Danny Graham, Don Cowie and Will Buckley the year got off to a terrible start and it looked like we were going to be in for the relegation scrap so many had predicted. Slowly though, results started improving and whilst we were never going to win many plaudits for our style of play, we became very hard to beat. The departure of England U21 striker Marvin Sordell left many of us wondering where the already rare goals were going to come from, but Troy Deeney performed admirably – making up for his lack of finishing prowess with an astonishing refusal to give up on anything. The inspired loan signings of Michael Kightly and Alex Kacaniklic provided us with some much needed width and creativity and we ended up briefly flirting with the play-offs before finishing neatly nestled in 11th. 'Anything but relegation' was the phrase on all Hornets fans lips before the season began, so to end comfortably mid-table has to represent success.
Top marks Watford fans have seen Adrian Mariappa come through the youth ranks, developing season by season into something that now looks uncannily like a top class defender. This hasn't gone unnoticed, and during the January transfer window he rebuffed approaches by both Wigan and Newcastle to stay with the Hornets, cementing his place as a Hornets legend.
Bottom of the class Striker Chris Iwelumo was unfairly targeted by a section of Watford fans, whilst a series of clangers from keeper Scott Loach meant he was on the wrong end of a bit of treatment too. For me though, this unwanted accolade has to go to Mark Yeates. A winger, he failed to provide any spark and creativity, struggled to beat a man and put in consistently dreadful crosses. Apart from that, he played a blinder.
The gaffer Sean Dyche had already won me over by virtue of looking incredibly scary and sounding even scarier. (If you haven't heard him interviewed I urge you to do so). After a poor start he was criticised by many for not fielding more of Watford's promising crop of academy graduates, but he did a fantastic job of turning things around and an 11th place finish when most people expected relegation speaks for himself. Well played sir.
Best moment Beating Millwall away on transfer deadline day amid furious speculation about the future of Adrian Mariappa and the departure of top scorer Marvin Sordell hours before kick of spoke wonders about the commitment and professionalism of this Watford team. Equally impressive was turning round a 0-2 deficit to beat Burnley 3-2 at home – the encapsulation of a never say die attitude and it was a joy to behold.
Worst moment Shipping a last minute equaliser at home to Leeds was tough – we tore them apart for the majority of the game and to let it slip at the death was tough. A personal lowlight was Pompey away on 2 January. I had persuaded my three-year-old daughter to accompany me, but she had a change of heart at the turnstiles. I finally managed to cajole her inside to witness us lose 2-0 and have a man sent off in conditions that would seem cold at the north pole.
Best fans I think the Peterborough fans are a good bunch. They understand where their club currently sit in the grand scheme of things and as such have reasonable expectations. They appreciate it when their team plays decent football, but also accept they aren't going to win every week. They strike me as having the balance right.
Worst fans West Ham fans are almost a parody of themselves now. Their 'We're West Ham United, we play on the floor' chant is as cringeworthy as it is hilarious. Shut up and get on with it. I know it's a bit out of my remit, but the 'Kean Out' brigade at Blackburn need to have a long hard look at themselves too.
Mike Parkin, From the Rookery End

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