LATEST EPISODE: Oscar Nominated

Plenty to talk about this month. Deeney's new contract, Beppe resigning, Oscar on his way in - and it's only the second podcast of the season.

The boys also talk to legend John McClelland in 100 Objects and to the little magician - Fernando Forestieri

Email us: podcast@fromtherookeryend.com

Monday, 26 March 2012

WFC in 100 Objects - #21 1971 The Wonderful World of Soccer Star Gala Collection



"Got, Got, Got, Got, Need, Got, Got, Need!"

We've all been there. Thumbing through a wadge of football stickers at break time hunting down the elusive sticker you want, but seeing Peter Reid's face for the 50th time when you've already got him yourself at least 10 times. It was a right of passage for all young football fans back in the day. My first collection was the Panini Football 87. I never completed it all, but I did manage to get the entire Watford team including the shiny badge.

It was a good collection, showing Watford on the biggest stage of all - Division 1. However, it didn't feel special enough to get into our list of 100 Objects. Then Rod Fine emailed up to tell us about 'The Wonderful World of Soccer Stars Gala Collection'. It predates Panini by a good few years and included every team from the 1970-71 England First Division (15 players per team) plus there was a 2nd Division 'Star Gallery' with two players per team. Barry Endean and Stewart Scullion represented Watford, but you can spot former Hornet Tony Currie was one of the two for Sheffield United players.

Division 2 Page - a few future managers on there.
You could send off (and pay for) your favourite 2nd division team if you wanted. Rod of course wanted the Watford team. And what a magnificent piece of football memorobilia it is.

Watford Team in Full
You might notice that it isn't individual stickers, but it's a single sheet with 15 players on it.

We aren't sure if it is the first set of Watford football stickers, but it's the set that is going into our list of Watford in 100 Objects. Thank you very much Rod for sending it in it's a joy to look at.


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Wednesday, 21 March 2012

SPORTS RELIEF - Support Laurence!


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Monday, 19 March 2012

WFC in 100 Objects - #20 Matt Rowson's pennant from Kaiserslautern vs Watford

Jon, Matt Rowson, Jason and an amazing Object from Watford's History
Nobody reading this will need reminding that Watford’s first (and to-date only) foray into Europe began in Kaiserslautern in September 1983.  The 1.F.C. Kaiserslautern of today are a yo-yo club in the Bundesliga, so it’s easy to forget that this was a side that had murdered Real Madrid on the way to the semi-finals of the same competition two years earlier, and disposed of Napoli and Sevilla before a quarter-final exit the previous season. No easy tie this, for a Watford side missing seven first teamers and already struggling to overcome the loss of the previous season’s forward line over the close season.

The dramatic second leg in whicha 3-1 first leg defeat was overturned by a team of reserves and local schoolkids (perhaps I’m exaggerating) is most widely celebrated.  I suspect I’m one of few who only managed the away leg…

We had emigrated to the south of Germany in the April, days after a 5-2 win over Luton but before the win over Liverpool which was a much bigger deal at the time than it would be now, end of season slump or otherwise.  In the wake of listening to that one on World Service, my Dad boldly and perhaps recklessly proclaimed that we would be at the first UEFA Cup game, whether it was in Watford, Norway, Greece or wherever.  He got lucky.  Very lucky.  Kaiserslautern was about 50 miles away.

I was 10.  It was my first away game.  All the things that are still insanely exciting about midweek football – the dark, the chill, the lights, the claustrophobia of the whole thing – were amplified by the significance of the occasion.  The camaraderie in the stands still stands out as a memory, although I did remember feeling that by living nearby we had somehow cheated, that we were less worthy than those who’d made the trip.

Another interloper who had made a slightly more straightforward trip than most in the away end was AC Milan’s new striker Luther Blissett, affably munching an apple in the away stand and perfectly happy to sign my commemorative pennant.  I suspect that it wasn’t the only one he signed that night, but I wonder if others have survived the intervening 29 (NB NOT 30) years.  As pennants go it’s a hefty beast; sadly the balsa plinth and yellow cotton from which it hung have not stood the test of time but the pennant itself remains pinned to my noticeboard in pride of place next to the Cup Final rosette. It merits entry in this list as testimony to surely the greatest achievement of that Watford side, the second place finish in 1983.



- Matt Rowson



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Saturday, 17 March 2012

The Definition of Success


Success. It means different things to different people. For some it’s a flash car and a big house. For others it’s a well paid job, whilst sometimes simply being happy is enough . In the sports arena it tends to be a bit more cut and dried. Success is measured in medals, trophies and titles. 
Or is it?
There’s a lot wrong with football. Tal Ben Haim continuing to collect over £30k a week as a Portsmouth player, whilst club staff who don’t earn his weekly wage in a year are laid off. Diving and play acting. Selhurst Park. The waving of imaginary cards. Robbie Savage. All things that as football fans we’d be glad to see the back of. But despite all the nonsense, our beloved sport continues to enchant generation after generation of supporters. The reason? Whilst it may manifest itself in different ways, every club has a chance of success.
To the non-Watford fan, last week’s series of games against Burnley, West Ham and Derby would represent nothing more than a set of decent, yet unremarkable results. To Hornets supporters however, they meant much more. That week of football almost certainly secured Watford’s Championship status for another year, the only realistic target our football club had this season. Success for us then is avoiding relegation. It may not result in a trophy, but it feels good doesn’t it?
Of course, fans of the Manchester clubs and Sky Sports pundits couldn’t possibly understand how being just good enough not to go down could represent success. After all, where’s the glamour in finishing 17th in the Championship? That’s the joy of it though. We’ve all got different ideas of success and only those of us with an emotional investment in achieving it will truly appreciate the joy of what to others may appear to be a mundane achievement. Nottingham Forest would be cock-a-hoop if they beat Derby once a year. Ecstatic if they do the double. For Yeovil, reaching the fourth round of the FA Cup could be a dream come true. For Portsmouth and Port Vale, still existing come April would be a result.
We all want different things out of our football watching experience. We’d all love to taste success in the form of trophies and titles, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t celebrate our own, personal versions of success as wildly as those that take home the silverware. Sean Dyche, his team of coaches and the players have done incredibly well to get us where we are today. I suggest we all enjoy it.
Come on You Horns.

Mike

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Friday, 16 March 2012

WFC in 100 Objects - #19 The Lucky Canary



Lucky mascots and superstition are nothing new, it transpires.  In March 1907, Watford went down 2-0 at West Ham in the first division of the Southern League.  The defeat coincided with the death of a canary, “retrieved” as a mascot by captain Alf Hitch from a trip to Norwich earlier in the month; the unbeaten run since, which included a 3-0 win over league leaders Plymouth, had granted the canary “lucky charm” status. 

The Watford Observer reported, “They had played with such extreme cleverness against the leaders and with so much pluck and dash that it was hoped the disadvantage of playing away from home seven days afterwards would not prevent them adding two more points to the tally, but it was not to be.  The canary was dead.”

Indeed, the impact of the canary’s death was arguably more decisive than its support in life, since the West Ham defeat preceded thumpings by QPR and Spurs (3-0 and 5-0 respectively) and a run of one win in fourteen.  A cynic might suggest that the sale of star striker Jack Foster to Sunderland the week after the West Ham game for a fee of £800 that smashed our record receipt may have been more significant a factor than the ex-canary; however since cynicism was only officially rendered lawful by the FA in 1953 we have no option but to accept the Observer’s version of events. The canary makes the list as symbolic of lucky charms before and since. 


- Matt Rowson

Thanks to Matt for writing this post for our list. Here his regular blogging on BHaPPY and his book Watford FC On This Day: Facts and Figures of every day of the Year.


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Monday, 12 March 2012

WFC in 100 Objects #18 - Doughnuts from Gymkhana

Something like this might have happened at the Watford Gymkhana - Daring!

An ongoing challenge facing clubs is making the most of their facilities to earn money outside match days in general and the football season in particular.  It would seem that this train of thought is nothing new…

In June 1927, the Watford and District Auto Club took on the West Bromwich MCC in a friendly motor-cycle football match at Vicarage Road.  The home side, victorious by a 3-0 scoreline, were presented with silver cigarette cases with gold tie pins presented to the losers. 

The event was followed by a motorcycle gymkhana that featured participants racing to eat buns suspended from the crossbar at either end of the pitch, without using their hands, whilst on their bikes. 

Whilst pausing only briefly to ponder what today’s groundsmen would make of such a practice, and more briefly still to speculate whether re-launching this event might secure a more reliable revenue stream in return for less damage to the pitch than recent arrangements with our egg-chasing tenants, the real mystery is why this source of entertainment died out in the first place.  Or perhaps I just watch the wrong TV channels?  Either way, the doughnuts make the list.

- Matt Rowson

Thanks to Matt for writing this post for our list. Here his regular blogging on BHaPPY and his bookWatford FC On This Day: Facts and Figures of every day of the Year


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Thursday, 8 March 2012

When Mike met Lloyd...

With excitement mounting ahead of the first event of Lloyd Doyley's testimonial year, Mike caught up with the man himself to talk about his memorable ten years as a Hornet...


Some clubs are lucky enough to have a player that is special. A player that fans know and trust. A player that gives of his best whatever the circumstances. A player that plays for the badge and the supporters. A player that sticks around. A player that sticks around for ten years. Watford are one of those clubs. Lloyd Doyley is one of those players.

After well over 300 first team performances and eleven seasons (and counting!), Lloyd is in his richly deserved testimonial year and as his first event draws closer, Mike caught up with the versatile defender to talk about his memories of the past ten years.


And what memories he has. Lloyd began by talking about his happiest day as a Hornet.
Apart from my d├ębut, the Play Off Final at the Millennium Stadium was something else. What an experience. To be able to take part in a game like that – one that is watched all over the world – is amazing, but to actually win it is it is unreal.
The match itself is a bit of a blur, but I remember two main things. You may have thought that we'd have been going mad celebrating, but to be honest by about 7pm I was absolutely exhausted. Me and the rest of the boys put so much into that performance, we were absolutely shattered. Very happy, but very tired. I also remember the fans. Coming out into that sea of noise and seeing the yellow, red and black everywhere was special. There always feels like there has been a strong bond between the fans and the team and that day it felt stronger than ever. The supporters really helped us get of to a good start that day. They were amazing.


So what of the Watford faithful? As Watford's longest serving current player, what does he think about his relationship with the fans?


The supporters have been superb throughout my career. I think it helps that I have come through the youth team – the fans seem to associate with those of us that have come through the ranks and that's still the case today. The fact that they have seen me come into the first team as a complete unknown and improve and develop means they always get behind me. I definitely feel a special bond with the Watford fans – I hope they feel the same!


Over the years Lloyd has had a whole host of team-mates, but who does he rate as the best he's played with?


Marlon was absolutely deadly. He wanted to do one thing – score goals, and he did that really well for us. On his day he was unplayable, absolutely ruthless. He used to moan all the time which used to wind us up a bit, but I think that showed how desperate he was to score. No-one can deny how good he was the year we went up.
Another player who was instrumental that season was Matthew Spring. He obviously got off to a tough start, it's never going to be easy for a player signing from Luton, but he soon won the fans over. Technically Matt was awesome and I was sorry to see him go.
The best former team-mate has to be Ashley Young. You just need to look at what he's gone on to achieve to realise what a talent he is. He got off to a brilliant start, scoring in his first game when his shirt was still about four sizes too big! What a player though, I'm still in touch with Ash and really hope he manages to get down for a few of my testimonial events.


And what of the current crop? If Lloyd was a Watford fan, whose name would he get on the back of his replica shirt?


Haha, that's a tough one. Am I allowed mine? If not, I'd go for Jonathan Hogg and not just because it's only four letters and would be quite cheap to do! He's been superb since he joined us and is a great professional. I've been really impressed with him and I think the fans have been too. They can see how hard he works in a game and that means a lot to supporters. They appreciate seeing players put a shift in.
There is a slight problem with him though – he moans like no-one else on earth. He's like a young Victor Meldrew! In training, during games, whenever, he's constantly having a whinge. I think it's because he wants the best out of everyone at all times and he basically just wants to win every time he plays, but I'd hate to have to put up with him at home. A great player though and I'm glad he's one of us.


So with under 300 games under his belt, 'Lloydinho' must have some interesting incidents he remembers?


My first team career obviously got off to a slightly weird start when I cam on as a sub for Pierre Issa who was dropped off a stretcher as he was carried round the pitch. I have to admit I was focussed on my performance and getting going, but looking back it must have been a nightmare for Pierre. I hope it never happens to me!
I often think about a particular incident that took place in a home game with Palace. The ball came towards me and I realised it was going to clear my head. To this day I have no idea why I did it, but I reached up and caught the ball. It was a good catch, any goalkeeper would have been proud, but obviously it wasn't the best thing to do. The next thing I knew there were three or four Palace players steaming towards me, so I just threw the ball out of play and ran! Strangely I was booked for throwing the ball away, not for the handball, but it's up there as one of the most random things I've ever done on a football pitch!


Of course, there is one thing that everyone mentions when talking about Lloyd. Not wanting to break with tradition – Lloyd, talk to us about the goal!


Every time I speak to a supporter they mention the goal and I wouldn't have it any other way! I'm proud to have scored, although would have liked to have done it sooner and would like to have scored more since. Some people have suggested that in some ways just scoring one is better as on it's own it is more memorable, but I can assure you I want more!
A lot has been made of my so called rivalry with Mapps (Adrian Mariappa) and he has cracked on and scored a few, but he's also weighed in with a few own goals too, so I think I'm going to say we're pretty much level.


As for the goal itself, I'll obviously never forget it. Don't ask me what I was doing steaming into the box like that, but I'm glad I was. Making last ditch tackles and stopping the opposition scoring is my bread and butter and I get a buzz from that, but nothing comes close to the feeling of scoring a goal. Everyone knows when you score – it's in the papers, on the radio, everywhere. A tackle can be forgotten in an instant whilst a goal is in the record books forever. That's why I want more!


The reaction from the supporters was incredible. I remember there was a bit of a pause after the goal went in, it was at the Vicarage Road end and I think quite a few people may have thought Nathan (Ellington) had scored it, but when everyone realised it was my goal, the place just went mad. The noise was unbelievable and I'll never forget that moment.


No Watford fan is likely to forget it for a while either! Few are likely to forget Lloyd;s contribution to the club in a hurry either, so is there a message for the Watford fans out there?


A huge, huge vote of thanks. The support I've had has been brilliant and I can't tell you how much of a difference it makes. When you know you have the fans on your side and that they'll support you it gives you so much confidence and makes going out and performing much easier.


I absolutely love it at Watford and that is largely thanks to the fans. I'm really grateful to each and everyone who comes to watch and I can't wait to meet as many fans as possible during my testimonial year, when I'll be able to say thanks face to face. I'll also keep practicing my shooting!


The first event of Lloyd's testimonial year takes place on Sunday 18 March and tickets are available now. The Lloyd Doyley Game-show Extravaganza takes place at Area nightclub in Watford between 2:30 and 5:30pm and will give you the opportunity to take part in a number of game show style games with Lloyd and plenty of your other Hornets heroes.
There will also be money can't buy prizes, many provided by Lloyd himself such as match worn boots and shirts. Tickets are just £10 for adults and £5 for children and are available from www.ldx2012.om now.

Don't miss this chance to see the Watford team in action like you've never seen them before - get your tickets today!
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Monday, 5 March 2012

WFC in 100 Objects - #17 - SS VERA


One suspects that few of the objects to make this list will date from the nineteenth century; our club might have its origins in Henry Grover’s activities of 1881 but few of his contemporaries are around now to tell the tale, less still to testify to the right to inclusion of peculiar supporters, trinkets or objects of the time.  Nonetheless one object of the era is an indisputable candidate for inclusion, and it’s a big one…
Vera in 1891 - From http://www.wrecksite.eu/wrecked-on-this-day.aspx?15/11/2011
WFC in 100 Objects - #17 - SS VERA

In March 1899, the channel steamship the SS Stella was on an early season crossing from Southampton to Guernsey when it hit the Casquets reef near Alderney in heavy fog and sank within ten minutes with the loss of 77 lives.  The first ship to the scene was the SS Vera, amongst whose passengers were Watford’s reserve side en route to play a series of friendly matches in Jersey.  The Watford players were commended for their contribution to the rescue effort in helping to salvage and comfort survivors from lifeboats – 67 of the 113 survivors were rescued by the Vera.

Quite why Watford’s reserve side was playing friendlies in Jersey mid-season is not clear; in any event the first team, either inspired by or oblivious to events in the channel, racked up back to back victories on the succeeding days.  Watford – having abandoned “West Herts” the previous summer – beat Chesham 4-1 in the Bucks and Contiguous Counties League at Cassio Road on the 31st and Uxbridge 4-2 in the Southern League Division 2 a day later.

The wreck of the Stella lay hidden in the depths of the Channel until located by local divers in 1973.

- Matt Rowson

Thanks to Matt for writing this post for our list. Here his regular blogging on BHaPPY and his book Watford FC On This Day: Facts and Figures of every day of the Year


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