Friday, 27 July 2012

WFC in 100 Objects - #27 Peter Morgan's Football Rattle

When we started this list we were after two types of objects. The objects that define important moments in the clubs history and those that define a fans relationship with their football club. Peter's Rattle is one that certainly sums up the latter perfectly. He emailed us:

I think my pre-1977 rattle deserves a place in the 'Watford in 100 objects', if not in the Watford Museum. It was hand-painted lovingly by me, whilst my mother looked on in horror. 

 It was my pride and joy and I took it to all home games, where, standing by the railings below the Shrodells Stand, I would proudly make as much noise as possible, without a thought of Health and Safety Regulations. Regretably those same regulations now deem my rattle as a dangerous weapon, so it is consigned to my cupboard, alongside my Vuvuzela. 

Peter Morgan 
Aged 49 3/4

The football rattle is part of footballing history, a much more endeared object compared to the vuvuzela. We needed to include a Watford themed rattle in this list and even if the club had produced an official rattle and sold it in the Hornets Shop, how could we ever put it in above this hand painted piece of passion.

Thank you to Peter for getting in touch. If you have a similar object that sums your connection with Watford Football Club then get in touch -

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Tuesday, 24 July 2012

WFC in 100 Objects - #26: The Watford Pond

Fluids are always an important part of celebrating a big win and the water in the Pond on Watford's Parade has been part of celebrations for many Watford fans after the club has gained promotion!

The history of the pond dates back to before 1800, and the Friends of Watford pond website tells use that it's a "natural and unique Pond dates back to before the 1800's. First used by the Victorians for watering horses and livestock brought to Watford's Tuesday markets and later by troops during the Great War." They have an interesting gallery of pictures of the pond through out it's history.

From The Rookery End do not condone jumping in the pond. It will not only disrupt the animals and plants that live in it, but who knows what diseases you might pick up whilst in there! In fact it can get you into a bit of trouble with the police as they have been called to break up fights in the water, stop illegal fishing and prevent children playing on the ice in the last three years. However, with it being a site of much celebrations, as you can see in the photos below, how could we not put it into our list of objects that define Watford Football Club.

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Tuesday, 17 July 2012

A Pozzo Preseason

The lesser seen Football Vase .
Tonight Watford get their preseason underway with the traditional preseason opener away to Boreham Wood and there's an excitement in the air. Preseason games are great. After a two months of not seeing the team in action, you finally get a taste of what the team might be like come the opening game of the season. You can begin to prepare your family and friends of your post 5pm moods. "Sorry love, I'm not going to lie to you. They were terrible away at Wealdstone. You'd better have a a strong sedative ready for Saturday nights this season". Plus at a game like tonight you get to visit a non-league stadium which jogs the memory as to what football stadiums used to be like in days of yore! 

However, the problems with preseason friendlies are all too clear. You only get to see the first team in full effect for the first half (no one wants to get too tired or get an injury) and there is nothing truly on the line to bring out the competitive side of a players!  However, last summer Southampton ran a slightly different pre-season friendly. The club invited Athletic Bilbao (Spain), Werder Bremen (Germany) to St Mary's where each team took on the other two (three games total) in a games lasting just 45 minute. They did it again this last weekend with Arsenal and Anderlecht.

So here's my proposal for the new Watford owners for a new look preseason...


The Pozzo Vase (it would be a glass vase as you don't get much glassware in football) would be an annual preseason celebration between the clubs in the Pozzo family - Watford, Udinese and Granada. Each year the location of the tournament would rotate between each club/country and it would bring together fans from the teams in the Pozzo football family where they can bond and create new friendships.

In between each game there would be a 45 minute break for refreshments, recovery and interaction between fan. The shorter matches means we'd not only see intense and competitive games, but with 45 minutes in between each match the first team will be at their strongest and players won't be too stretched before the real season kicks off.

With a Vase at stake there's a guaranteed competitive edge to the games and fans are bound to get their monies worth - especially if they have travelled from another land. And of course there will be the added incentive of showing off in front of the Godfather who would present the cup to the team with the best record in their two games. It will give squads their annual away trip for team building and every 3rd year they can make a trip somewhere different!

It will be a real event for the host club who might be able to capitalise on tournament as it's bound to be a cash generator in both beer and merchandise sales. 

I've been known to come up with a silly idea or two, but the Pozzo Vase can only be a fantastic thing for fans from every club!

- Rookery Jon

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Wednesday, 11 July 2012

One Manager, One word...

There it is then. He's appeared in an official Watford club tie on TV. It can't get any more official than that. Gianfranco Zola is Watford's First Team Manager.

It's obviously an interesting time to be a Watford supporter, so here at From the Rookery End, we have tried to guage the mood of fellow fans by asking them to sum up their current feelings in one word. We got a fantastic response (Sometimes more than one word, but these are exciting times - we forgive you!), and these are collated bellow. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section - we'd love to hear how you are feeling!


We have managed to get hold of Gianfranco Zola's name card that was used at the official press conference (pictured above). We'll be giving this away in a competition soon, so keep your eyes on and our Facebook page for details on how to win. Good luck!

Now, onto your one-word summaries:

Curtis (@curtiford): Shocked! This time last year I was worried about staying in the Championship. Now I hear words like Premiership and ambition.
James Tully (@plumbertully): Fantastic! Is it really happening?!
Alan Ahern (@alanahern54): Wow!
David Lewy (@onedavidlewy): Unfamiliar. Potential. Exotic.
Tom Middleditch (@middle82): Excited.
Austen Humphries (@afhumphries): Odd.
Dan (@lutondown): Orgasmic.
Iain Jordan (@twentyninth): EIEIEIO!

Zola takes centre stage

Kishan Rees (@_suits_you_sir): Surreal.
'In The Wolf's Mouth' Blog (@WFCWolfsMouth): Extravagant.
'Watford Willie' (@watfordwillie): Extremelyeggcited.
Keith Eldridge (@keitheldridge): Zo Pozzotive. (This is brilliant Keith!)
Emma-Louise Jones (@jonesyWFC): Fantastico!
Hazel Roberts (@hazelaroberts): Weird!
Adam Holloway (@hollowayadam): Surreal.
Jonny Andrews (@jonny18andrews): Surreal.
Gareth Reynolds (@garethdreynolds): Expectant.
Matt Page (@matt_s_page): Nervous.
Patrick McNicholas (@patmcnicholas): Optimistic.
'P' (@twiterlander): Exciting.
'Chap' (mc_chap): Magnifico.

The view that greeted Watford's new boss...
Ian Fuller (@iainjfuller): Avidity. Dycheless.
Chris (@chriswfc): Excitedlycautiouslyworryinglyecstaticallyhappilyanxiouslyoptimistic!
Lendal (@lendal): Euphoric-ish.
Mark Hancock (@markhhancock): Strange.
Liam Ahern (@LiamAhern78): Real!
Katy Parles (@ktdude): Cautiouslyoptimistic!
Harry Cresswell (@hkcresswell): Incredible.
Jamie Wiseman (@wisey93): Optimistic.
Neil Roberts (@neilroberts01): Excited.

So, you've read how these guys feel (Thanks to all of you for responding, there have been some brilliant responses). Now tell us, how are YOU feeling?...

Come on You Horns!

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Friday, 6 July 2012

The Exhaust Eater!

A lot has been said in the past few days as news of Sean Dyche’s demise, presumably so he can be replaced by Gianfranco Zola, slowly filtered out of the Vicarage Road woodwork. Opinions are mixed on whether it's a good or bad thing and a lot more is likely to be said in hindsight too. But right now I'm going to concentrate on what Sean achieved during his season in charge at Watford.

Let's start with the facts. 11th place, 64 points. Our best season since the ill fated play off campaign of 07-08. And when you look at the resources available to the managers over those successive seasons, you'd have to say that Dyche appeared to have it the toughest. Transfer window after transfer window of departures through the seasons left Sean with arguably the weakest squad during that era. What we did see from Sean though was a lot of activity in the transfer market. There were, and probably still are, a lot of questions over the early purchases. Forsyth, Buaben, Dickinson, Iwelumo, Garner and Yeates still have something to prove. Only Hogg of the summer signings seemed to hit the ground running. But evidence is there to suggest Sean has learnt quickly on this aspect of football management. Indeed, when we spoke to him for the From The Rookery End Christmas edition, we asked him if there was anything he'd have done differently. He suggested he may have made some different signings. And then there's Nosworthy, Kacaniklic and Kuszczak. They were the right signings at the right time. In particular Nozzer, who arrived at the Vic with Sean on the verge of the sack. Two home wins later and all at WFC were breathing a bit easier.

One subject for which Sean has come in for some criticism from fans is the way he has used our younger players this season. Now this ties in quite nicely with the paragraph above. Sean had his opinion on how to use younger players and stated quite early on in his reign that he was concerned with the way the team fell away towards the latter part of the previous season, due to the burden of responsibility that had been placed on our academy graduates. Had those players I mentioned earlier all performed to expectations or beyond when they first pulled on the yellow shirt, then maybe we wouldn't be questioning Sean's youth policy. Like I said earlier, things are often discussed in hindsight. And he wasn't completely against bringing younger players into the first team. Sean Murray, brought to the attention of Watford fans via YouTube, was being picked in supporter's XIs from early August. Dyche held him back until what could have been billed as the Hornets biggest, and certainly most high profile, game of the season against Spurs in the fourth round of the FA Cup, sponsored by blahblahblah... What his reasons were for doing it this way and what Sean said to Sean (keep up) will remain in the dressing room. But it seemed like a masterstroke as the young Murray showed us he was not overawed by such an occasion and was ready for a run in the otherwise humdrum of everyday Championship football. And then there's Britt Assombolonga. A first team debut for a youngster who had been banging in his final goal for Braintree Town just seven days earlier. If that's not throwing someone in at the deep end.... If you speak to those involved in the Academy at WFC, they will tell you that the last season under Malky was an exception when it came to playing young talent. Almost forced upon him with the small squad we had. So is that a fair benchmark to set against? Not necessarily, but I would liked to have seen more of Adam Thompson and Dale Bennett this season. And despite noises that Matty Whichelow is not making progress as one would expect, our bench did miss a player of his qualities in games where we needed someone to turn a game and make something happen.

Sean also expressed, and demonstrated on the pitch, an awareness of tactical progression. At a time when the new England boss was being criticised for his rigid 442 and his lack of willingness to adapt his style to the modern game, Sean told us how he was looking to explore different tactics to suit the squad and situation. I've already mentioned Iwelumo as a player who struggled to fit into the Watford line up. But I hadn't seen him put in a better performance than the one he did at West Ham, when his role was defined as one of back to goal, holding the ball up and laying off for the runs from deep of Kacaniklic and Murray. An example of the team playing to their strengths and it was a vast improvement on the naïve performance at home to the Hammers in August.

Stone Cold Sean Dyche
We should also not forget that Sean played for the Hornets for three seasons, including an early look at those leadership qualities when he took over the captaincy. Aidy Boothroyd brought Sean back to the club as a youth coach, before Malky Mackay asked him to fill the assistant’s void created by his own promotion to manager.

I'm finishing this on a more personal note. We at From The Rookery End have been lucky enough to meet Sean on a number of occasions. Each time Sean has been happy to chat with us, both with Jon's iPhone shoved under his nose and a bit of friendly banter when not. He's always been welcoming when we've visited the training ground to interview his players. I hope that someone who has shown much promise as a young manager, will be awarded the opportunity to play his hand once more in the Football League. 

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Thursday, 5 July 2012

The Italian Job. Take 2...

Crikey. Is everyone OK?

After all, it’s been a pretty chaotic couple of weeks, even by Watford’s madcap standards.

At the time of writing, the pieces are still being put into place after the Pozzo family completed their takeover of our club. It looks increasingly likely that the 2012/13 season will start with a new manager in charge, and it’s seemingly inconceivable that we won’t see at least a smattering of loan signings from Udinese strutting their stuff in a smart new Puma shirt soon. With Italy renowned as a nation with a love for decent food, one can only assume any loanees will approve of the Happy Egg Company.

A fair few details to finalise then, but whilst the great and the good are busy putting together the final pieces of the Watford Football Club jigsaw, what better time to take a breath, review what’s happened and share our hopes and thoughts on the future?

What’s happened?

Perhaps most importantly, we know Laurence Bassini has left the building. The entirety of Bassini’s tenure was a baffling combination of lofty claims and promises, excuses and bizarre behaviour. His apparent inability to talk directly to fans, ever-changing timescales and refusal to disclose the source of his supposed investment served only to fan the flames of cynicism that were ignited upon his arrival.

With hindsight, it’s easy to say that Bassini was obviously not the long term guardian of Watford that he professed to be. The clues were there, of course. For a never published article I trawled through all that Bassini ever said and wrote it down. His statements and claims were never consistent and the way in which he bandied completion dates around for major building works at Vicarage Road was as hilarious as they were unimaginable. If you’re minded to do so, search the Watford Observer site for ‘Laurence Bassini’ and read what he had to say in chronological order. If nothing else, it should help you if ever you want to write the book on ‘How not to run a football club or reveal yourself as slightly daft’.

In truth, the penny didn’t truly drop for many Watford fans until news of the takeover hit the public domain. In the space of nigh on 24 hours, Bassini managed to claim that he had no wish to sell, almost immediately confirmed that he was indeed going to sell, before publicly claiming that the deal was off because he didn’t believe the Pozzo family didn’t have the necessary funds. He also managed to cobble together a statement for the official site bemoaning the fact that neither fans nor the media had given him a chance. Our collective hearts bled.

His erratic performance in the lead up to the takeover was a perfect microcosm of his Watford ownership; contradictory, nonsensical and worrying. With news of staff not being paid and rumours of an outstanding tax bill, Bassini’s legacy and the true state of the Football Club was beginning to become apparent. Fortunately, the Pozzo family remained committed to the cause and the takeover was officially announced on Friday 29 June.

Since their purchase of the club, the Pozzo family have released a welcome statement on the official site, but by far and away their biggest decision is the widely reported one to replace Manager Sean Dyche with Gianfranco Zola. It’s a move that has divided opinion amongst Watford fans and caught the imagination of football fans up and down the Country.

What do we think?

Here at From the Rookery End, we’re relieved the takeover is complete. All the evidence points towards Bassini’s reign having left Watford’s future in very real danger – it’s almost impossible to believe that the club could have continued to operate had he remained in charge. With this in mind the takeover wasn’t just welcome, it was utterly, totally, 100% necessary.

It is within this context that we must view the Pozzo’s decision to bring in their own Manager. I don’t think there will be many Watford fans who aren’t disappointed that Sean Dyche, a man who performed hugely impressively in almost unimaginably trying circumstances, hasn’t been given a chance to continue his work. This said, the Pozzo family rescued our Football Club. It is that simple. With regards to the managerial decision, it’s their way or no way at all. Like it or loathe it, Sean Dyche’s job was part of the price paid for the future of our club.

It seems clear then, that despite this brutal decision, at this stage we should be grateful. At least we have a football club to manage. Add to the mix the Pozzo family’s football pedigree, their obvious experience in the game and their tried and trusted business model (next time Laurence, it might be an idea to try and demonstrate at least one of these attributes) and it’s clear to see why some Hornets fans see the Pozzo’s as a ticket to success and glory. They may well prove to be just that, but as when Laurence Bassini stumbled into town, we have a right to ask questions and to look beneath the surface. It’s more than a right – it’s a responsibility.

Already there is a clear misunderstanding of the Pozzo’s and their footballing philosophy. Chatter on the Internet and social networks is rife with excited conversation about  how much they will spend. The answer of course is very little – the plan is to build with the help of youngsters from Udinese and untried players signed via their global scouting network. There is a wealth of articles on the relative successes of Udinese and Grenada out there – many of which are hugely helpful in getting a good feel for who is now in charge, what they’ve previously achieved, and how.

As supporters, we have a duty to understand and know who is in charge of our club. If we don’t, what right do we have to complain if it all goes Bassini shaped?

With this in mind, here at from the Rookery End, we’re pleased the Pozzo’s are here. Cautiously optimistic even. It won’t stop us asking questions though – talk is cheap, it’s their actions which will ultimately decide how history judges them and how this chapter in Hornets history will end. You’ll hopefully remember the ‘five simple questions’ we had for Laurence Bassini. Expect to see them get another airing soon.

Let’s hope we get some better answers.

Come on You Horns!

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