LATEST EPISODE: As one Ends, another Begins

As the Watford first team's season comes to an End, the Ladies team are kicking off a new era in the Women's Super League. Jon, Jason and Mike head to their first game of the season, talk to manager John Salomon and player Renne Hector, plus the boys chat about Troy Deeney's future, the late conceding of goals and the rest run of games. Plus the boys talk to Academy boss CHris McGuane.Email us: podcast@fromtherookeryend.com

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Watford 2 Reading 2 (Apparently) - 20/09/08





[caption id="attachment_70" align="alignright" width="128" caption="Reading's opener flies into the net"]Reading's Opener[/caption]

"..but funny things happen when you least expect it, especially at Watford…"

 

 



 

That's what I said at the end of my last post after the defeat to Plymouth - looking forward to the Reading game. Funny things can happen. Crikey, did they happen!

I don't suppose I can say much that hasn't been said or thought already. The decision to award the "phantom" goal was completely and utterly bonkers. The whole thing just beggars belief.

The one concession I am willing to make to the linesman is that, yes, the ball DID cross the line. Definitely. He was spot on there. The fact that the ball was some 4 yards wide of the goal however, usually means that either a goal kick or corner is awarded. I'm pretty sure it doesn't mean a goal. There are a whole load of factors that should have indicated to our flag wielding friend that it wasn't a goal - the ball should have been obscured by the net, the players should have run off appealing for a goal, you know all the usual stuff. What actually happened was that every single player in both a yellow and blue shirt simply trotted back to the centre circle, ready for the goal kick. Surely something in his brain must have been telling him he was making a mistake?

Our fearless leader has been saying in the press that he doesn't blame the ref. He is of the opinion that if his colleague (the linesman) is telling him a goal has been scored, then he can do nothing but accept it and award it. Codswallop. The ref, like the 14,000 fans and 22 players should have been alert enough to realise that the ball was nowhere near going in. Nowhere near. He is just as culpable as the linesman in my view, and I will be very, very disappointed if they both don't face a very, very lengthy period away from the game.

Should Reading have let us score an equaliser? Lets face facts, they all knew they hadn't scored. Maybe. Would Watford have done so if the boot had been on the other foot? I doubt it, so I think there is our asnwer.

I don't really know what else to say on the subject - the Country will be waking up to it with Sky Sports News and the 15 seconds of coverage "The Championship"  will give to it before moving on to Ned Boulding interviewing the Macclesfield mascot, and everyone will see it, everyone will know. I guess everyone will laugh too. Unbeleivable.

Steve Coppell aluded to it after the game, and I agree. I think this injustice did us a favour. I very much doubt that we would have heard the Vicarage Road crowd in such fine voice had we not suffered so hugely at the hands of the officials. I also doubt that the team would have raised their game to the degree they did, and I definitely don't think we would have scored twice. we may have done, but I doubt it.

On the balance of play, I thought a draw was a fair result. Scott Loach performed near on heroics a couple of times, and I dread to think how many dangerous looking crosses Reading got into the box. From where I was sat it was only a matter of time before Reading got their equaliser, it's just a shame it came as a result of such a poor challnge. Hey ho.

A great team performance though, with Hoskins defying nature to still be running around at the final whistle - he took a fearful battering from Bikey throughout. John-Joe O'Toole managed to keep going too, which was good to see, whilst Tommy worked his socks off again. For a team who have lost their previous two games as well as most of their squad to injury, this was a great effort, and one which I appreciated greatly. Lets hope we can sort out our treatment room, get some players fit and keep this battling spirit going.

So all in all, a pretty crazy day. Bizarre decisions, a noisy crowd, penalties, late equalisers - the works. What fun!

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Watford 1 Plymouth 2 - 16/09/08



I was late for this game.

[caption id="attachment_66" align="alignright" width="128" caption="Guilty pleasure"]Guilty pleasure[/caption]

I was hungover to high heaven after seeing Metallica at the O2 the night before (one of the teenage habits that I don't seem to be able to break) and was entirely reliant on a lift from a mate. He was late, so I was late.


Sauntering up to Vicarage Road 10 minutes after kick off was an interesting experience. There were fans clearly on their way to the game, clearly late, yet clearly not bothered. Instead of rushing to the game little pockets of supporters slowly shuffled towards Vicarage Road, preferring to stop and fill up on take away food and confectionery - some even stopping to read the paper.

As we walked down Occupation Road 12 minutes into the game the other thing that struck us was the dirth of sound. There was definitely a game on - we could hear the ref's whistle and the shouts of the players - but nothing from the fans. This is no great suprise, we all know Vicarage Road is hardly a seething pit of partisan support, but this really did seem strangely subdued.

When we got into the ground, settled down and got the team news from my brother, the reason for the apathy became clear. The East Stand is shut, and with no-one in it our quaint reminder of yester-year is an increased eyesore. On top of that, there is the building work in the corner of the Rookery. With no idea of when or if that project will be finished, the ground provides a fairly depressing spectacle. But the thing that really struck me about this game, and the state of our team/squad, was the subs bench.

Loach, Mariappa, Ainsworth, Bangura, Hoskins. There was something about this list of names that put me in mind of some of the distinctly average Watford teams throughout the 90's (obvious exceptions excluded). I was immediately put in mind of players like Peter Beadle,
Beadle -Mediocre
Beadle -Mediocre
Colin Pluck, Gerard Lavin, Dominic Ludden.   Journeymen. Like those ex players, none of our subs for this game are going to change a game. They are all honest players, and I am not  entirely displeased that they are Watford players, but they aren't exactly inspirational and this is the best we have at the moment.

It's all a bit comfortable I suppose. No-one really expects us to challenge for promotion, and we should have enough quality to stay in the division, but apart from staying in the

Championship, it is hard to see any other realistic goals.

Admittedly the treatment room is now at bursting point, and one could argue that an entirely fit squad would be an interesting proposition - hopefully time will tell. For now however though, I think everyone is in neutral. We all turn up at the games because, well, that's what we do. I don't think anyone really expects anything.

In a way, that kind of sums up why supporting Watford can be god fun. When expectation levels are low (non-existant?!) things can happen. When our little club starts thinking it deserves or is entitled to success, then things go a bit wonky. Just look at last season - the expectation was poisonous and it made sure that last year was utterly ghastly. Already this year we have had the fun and games of the Ipswich game, and have beaten a decent side in Charlton. We have also been beaten by a rubbish Plymouth side - who knows what will happen on Saturday against Reading...

As we left the Plymouth game the feeling was that everyone was pretty much as apathetic as they were at the start. We had lost, but we hadn't played that badly. There is a long way to go in the season, and we'll play worse and win (according to Aidy at any rate). Not a great night's entertainment, but not the worst, so home to bed before we do it all again on Saturday. 

With only one fit striker avaialble to us, it will be tough, but funny things happen when you least expect it, especially at Watford...

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Sing when I'm winning? Watford 2 Ipswich 1 - 30/08/08

So then. I'm back.

Having missed the Palace, Rovers and Charlton games (holidaying in the South of France) I made my home debut against Darlington.

This was something of a strange experience for me. Those of you who read my ramblings towards the end of last season will know that me and football weren't really getting on. So much so in fact that the last entry in this blog was on the 19th April. On that day I severed ties with the game for the summer.

[caption id="attachment_54" align="alignleft" width="128" caption="Pursuit cycling. Bravo!"]Pursuit cycling. Bravo![/caption]

It really all had got too much. Watford were woeful, England were worse and the Premiership was (is) full of some of the most unpleasant people on earth (Hi Ashley. Send my love to Cheryl. You tw*t.). So, I began a trial separation. It was quite nice really. I watched some cricket, I played some cricket. I kept half an eye on the Euro Championships in Austria and Switzerland and I played some half decent golf. I watched the Olympics and discovered that I quite liked pursuit cycling.  I went on holiday. I even did some gardening. Lots and lots of stuff that didn't involve football.

So, when it came to the Darlington game, it was all a bit alien. The first time I had thought about Watford for a good couple of months was when I attempted to go through the turnstiles ahead of the game.

I say attempted because, this being Watford, the end of our trial separation just had to have a hitch. The ticket office had failed to activate my and about 3,000 other season cards, necessitating a lengthy queue at the ticket office to collect a paper ticket. Welcome back to Watford!

Anyway I got in, and the game began. It followed the formula we have come to expect from these games - we play a weakened side against a lower league side. Both sides cancel each other out, with us looking marginally the stronger. We score, they score (late) and there is extra time. The fitness levels and presence of a few experienced players finally tells, and we win through. Just.

It wasn't a great spectacle, but my brother and I agreed that our reserve side beating a first team, albeit a lower league first team, could only be a good thing. That's right ladies and gents, a good thing.  I could feel something I hadn't felt for ages. Enthusiasm.

Ipswich next. And I am definitely back. In the week leading up to the game I am checking websites, reading fans forums, and generally looking forward to it.  I am taking my 7 year old nephew who had specifically requested a trip to see Watford as his birthday present. (Quite remarkable as his only previous visit was the 1-2 reverse against Bristol City last season). The promise of another young Hornet. in the family only adds to the feel good factor.

Game day is sunny and all is well. The ground is full (in the areas that aren't unsafe for human inhabitants)

[caption id="attachment_55" align="alignright" width="128" caption="5:22pm"]22pm[/caption]

and there is a big away following, adding to the atmosphere. Z Cars kicks in and I am definitely, definitely back. Football is brilliant. Mart Poom's 2nd minute clearance isn't however, and Ipswich are ahead.

This is an important moment for me. I'm not sure how I am going to react. I sit there for a while, staring at the Ipswich fans cheering and laughing in equal measure. I think about texting my brother (he is in the Rookery, I'm in the Rous) with some sarcastic comment about great starts. Then it dawns on me. I'm OK. There is a long way to go, and we can turn it around. We can still win this. Yes, that's right ladies and gentlemen, we can now add optimism to the newfound enthusiasm.

I'm delighted. You see, at the end of last season I thought I might have completely fallen out of love with Watford. Maybe even the game as a whole. A couple of minutes after Ipswich went ahead I realised that I am still head over heels.

The Ipswich fans serenaded us with an array of chants that were both amusing and aggravating in equal

[caption id="attachment_56" align="alignright" width="128" caption="7:05pm"]05pm[/caption]

measure - "One-nil to the football team" (That one is presumably on loan from the oh so stylish WBA, currently struggling to score in the Premiership) and the even more laughable "We're just too good for you.." rang out from the Vicarage Road End...

The rest of course is history. Late winner+Ipswich fans and their daft chants+sunny Saturday evening+Watford FC=happiness. Brilliant. I make no excuses or apologies for my feelings and subsequent rants last season, and I stand by them. I don't think I have enjoyed a season less. It was horrible. I really thought it may have been over. I thought I was going to be one of those blokes who "used to go to Vicarage Road a lot when I was younger, but you know, I just stopped going really..."It turns out I'm not.

Bring it on!