LATEST EPISODE: Back To The Future

It’s a podcast of two halves recorded at Tales From The Vicarage Live. In the first half, Jon, Jason and Mike discuss the first four Watford games with Slav Jo as Head Coach. Then, after a half time Doom Bar, they get special access to talk to Tales from The Vicarage authors Lionel Birnie and Adam Leventhal plus guests from the event – Ray Lewington, Tommy Smith, David Holdsworth and Nick Wright.

Email us: podcast@fromtherookeryend.com

Monday, 8 October 2012

Diving. It's time to take a look at ourselves.

Mr Tumble. Falling over is no laughing matter.

Good grief this is tiresome.
The weekend’s football was once again shrouded in controversy – an ill judged red card ruined my afternoon’s entertainment at Vicarage Road, whilst elsewhere, Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale were embarrassing themselves with a pair of breath-taking, gravity-defying tumbles. Whilst Hornets fans wait to see if Matej Vydra’s dismissal will be overturned, the rest of the footballing fraternity are embroiled in a debate about diving. Again.
I’m certain that all right minded football fans agree that diving is abhorrent. It’s cheating the referee, it’s cheating the opponent, and perhaps most importantly of all – it’s cheating the viewing public. Anyone with even a vague interest in football is united by a view that something needs to be done, and with a couple of high profile examples bringing the subject back into the spotlight, surely now is as good a time as any to identify the way forward?
In practice, yes, but in reality, football remains its own worst enemy.
At a time when a little sensible debate and reasoned discussion is required, balance seemingly disappears out of the window; one-eyed tribalism and a desire for opportunistic points scoring seemingly more important than tackling the real issue. Take the Suarez incident for example. Understandably, Liverpool supporters have been quick to provide their take on the situation, taking part in radio phone-ins and online debates. Nothing wrong in that of course, it’s their club involved, but instead of looking at the actions of their player, too many chose instead to look at the behaviour of the opposition – in this case Stoke City.
It’s perhaps unfortunate that in this case the game featured another controversial incident, Robert Huth appearing to stamp on Luis Suarez – the Uruguayan seemingly a magnet for high profile talking points. Huth’s challenge was an unpleasant, nasty, dangerous one and certainly warrants discussion – but isn’t valid as a defence for the Suarez dive. “Yeah, but did you see what their guy did to our player first…” just doesn’t wash with me.
Numerous journalists also decided not to give the diving issue the platform it deserved, instead choosing to poke fun at Tony Pulis, the Stoke City Manager. Pulis publicly denounced Suarez for his airborne antics, yet he was mocked for doing so – reminded of his blithe reaction to Peter Crouch’s handballed goal against Chelsea in which he was happy to embrace an ill-gotten goal, welcoming the bit of “luck” he felt it represented. The intimation being that Pulis waived his right to comment on anything when he didn’t condemn Peter Crouch for handling the ball. One of his players has broken a law of the game and got away with it, so why should he moan about an opposition player doing so?
It’s a nonsense. Are we only to accept opinion from those who can claim to have permanently occupied the moral high ground? Can we only take situations seriously when the wronged has never been in the wrong themselves? The truth is it is easier to look at the failings of another, point at an opposition player or a rival manager than to admit fault and take steps to tackle it. “Yes, we may have behaved badly, but don’t forget what they did back then…”
It’s not a sophisticated defence, diversionary tactics have been used forever and a day – largely because they are simple and effective, but whilst we as football people consistently choose to find fault in others instead of taking responsibility for the actions of ourselves or our football teams, this tiresome charade will continue.

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Friday, 5 October 2012

WFC in 100 Objects - #32: A Joy Garden Chinese Takeaway Menu



What has a takeaway menu got to do with a Football Club, let alone be important enough to go into our list of Watford in 100 Objects? Well Matthew Wilsonhome emailed us and told us his special story about how it helped him during his time as a Watford fan. Matt wrote:

Due to parents divorcing I moved to Ingatestone in Essex from Hemel Hempstead at the age of 10.

From the age of 14 I used to tell my mother I was off Saturday shopping in Romford, but used to get the train to Liverpool Street, across London and then up to Watford to see the Hornets.


Post match I used to wait for the Joy Garden to open and treat myself to rice and a soup (easy to eat with a spoon on the way to the station)This went on until I was 18 when I moved back to the area in Oxhey.


For the record I was allowed on my own on the train from 16 but it wasn't until I was 18 that I told my mother what I used to do.


The Joy Garden on Vicarage Road

So that list of Chinese food dishes not only sums up the commitment and passion of a football fan and of course lying to a mother. Let's hope Matt's Mum forgave him!

If you've got a story like Matt's that you want to share then please drop us an email. The list is growing - be a part of it!
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WFC in 100 Objects - #31 The Family Enclosure/Terrace

The Family Enclosure  - Photo from http://goalden.watfordmuseum.org.uk/online.html


On of our highly suggested object is The Family Encloure/Terrace, but it was Orlander Yard's email of his memories of the North-East of Vicarage Road that gave us the perfect reasons to put it into the list:

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One thing that stands out for me is, because of the makeshift appearance of the main stand. We had both a seated and a standing family area (The family enclosure and the terrace).  One thing I can safely say is that Watford fans aren't always the most vocal.  With the exception of that fateful Sunderland game when gifton got injured. And the Sunderland fans wished they were as vocal as us.  Any way, when ever there was a quiet spell in a game, you could often hear the  high pitched chant, "Watford (clap clap clap) Watford.


I often thought that chanting coming from the family terrace was a bit embarrassing for the vicarage road end fans. And that squeaky chant would often inspire the fans to sing, just to drown out the the noise coming from the family terrace.

I also remember in the 80s when we were often beating the big boys.  There used to be a young blond boy in the family terrace (he must be in close to 40 now). When ever Watford were winning, he'd take his Watford top off and spin it round over his head.  That always made a few of the Vicarage Road regulars laugh.


Cheers

Orlander

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I adored the old family areas in the East Stand. I have lots of fond memories of my early days as a Junior Hornet, the evenings meeting the players, Ann Swanson running the place telling us off for being negative in our shouts towards Dave Bassett and, as pointed out in an email we got from Dr Billyo, the sticker hunt where I made a swap with David James. I hope that whenever the East Stand is rebuilt that a Family specific area and facilities are built to grow future generations of Watford fans!

-- Jon

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Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Desperation Stakes?

After Watford's terrific win at Huddersfield at the weekend, Watford fan and regular FTRE contributor Kelly Somers had a few things she wanted to say. Well, what better place to talk about Watford than here at From the Rookery End, so do yourself a favour, get comfy and feast your eyes on Kelly's current thoughts. If you've got an opinion, feel free to add it in the comments box below. These are interesting times at Watford and there is some great debate to be had. All feedback, opinion and interaction is appreciated. It's what makes being a football fan fun.

Over to you Kelly...

Watford FC: A United Front?
Being ‘desperate’ for a win is a phrase somewhat overused in football these days, however on Saturday, for me, this was a place Watford were nearing to finding themselves. Not least because we were slipping down the table into unwanted relegation territory, being without a victory in over a month (it is of course ridiculous to be talking about the table at such an early stage but such is the nature of the game today), but also to prove a point. A victory at high flying Huddersfield following the hysteria stemming from Martin Samuel’s article in the Daily Mail earlier in the week, may just prove a point that myself and many other Watford fans have been trying to prove – that, contrary to the outsider’s opinion, we aren’t just an inflated squad of misfits with miss guided goals, but a united team in progression with a point to prove.

No, it wasn’t a 4-0 victory, or by any means a victory in which Watford fans could feel comfortable in throughout. But this is, arguably, what made the taste of victory all the sweeter. Despite feeling at half time, as I’m sure many Hornets fans did, a serious sense of deja-vu, as the full time whistle eventually blew in Yorkshire, I felt that the team had proved their point and proved it in style. For the Hornets showed resilience and determination – and now as I look back at the manner in which they attacked the game, I realize that the various aspects of the performance, of which I will mention below, meant that this team were never going to come home from the John Smiths stadium with anything less than a victory that they really did deserve.

Zola played tribute to front two and without sounding repetitive, I too cannot speak highly enough of their performance. I have received a great deal of criticism for wanting Troy Deeney to return to the club, but even when doing so, never in my wildest dreams did I expect the number nine to come back in the form he has. On Saturday, not only did he offer what we already knew he could – passion, determination and the ability to put his all into everything and play with his heart on his sleeve – but he also showed a side to his game which often goes unappreciated. Troy is much more than just a Trojan and a hard worker – he has a fantastic touch and even when crowded by numerous opposition players, he can retain the ball and is starting to create moments of brilliance.

Whilst on any other day, this performance and his subsequent winning goal, would easily have won man of the match in my eyes, there was of course another magician alongside, or behind him (depending on which way you translated the formation), in the form of Fernando Forestieri. I was mesmerized by the first glimpse we got of the Italian against Brighton, however I admit to worrying that perhaps I was overly optimistic as I felt he was particularly selfish, and less convincing against Bristol City.  How wrong I was though, and the fact that all of the best players are selfish at times – whilst on considerably different levels, take a certain Ronaldo for example – was realized following his performance on Saturday. He took players on and to say he terrorized Huddersfield would not be an exaggeration – yes he often went down easily but the  sheer number of fouls committed on him show that at times he really was unplayable.

I do however feel it is also important to pay tribute to the defence – yes there is still work to do, especially as this new formation with ‘wing backs’, especially in a side that contains a less then convincing wing back of Marco Cassetti, does often leave us open to counter attacks. The three centre backs however were truly dominant. Fitz Hall carried on where he left off from last weekend against Brighton and, whilst never shalt we forget ‘Tiny’ Martin Taylor, ‘One Size’ is definitely easing the pain and his goal was just the icing on the cake, topping a commanding defensive performance. As the away end sang, ‘One Size Fitz ‘All’ and Fitz clearly fits in well in our side. Alongside him, whilst I remain unconvinced by Neuton, his performance was arguably his best yet in the yellow jersey, and backed up by Hall and the impressive Hoban behind him, he may as of yet fit into Zola’s 3-5-2 combination.

However, as I mentioned in my previous blog, what has often heartened me this season when worrying about the new regime, is the manner of the fans and the relationship within the squad, however, if there was ever a game to assure fans that this is not a problem, it was Saturday. Not only was the atmosphere in the away end little short of unreal, I realized there is, on the whole, an acceptance, or at the very least a very convincing attempt to buy into the direction of the club. There were songs for every player, (my favourite was still however ‘We buy who we want, we buy who we wa-ant, from Udinese, we buy who we want) and applause for them all.  So contrary to Adrian Durham’s tweet in response to Martin Samuels, stating that the club was losing it’s identity and thus the fan’s connection to it, I would say that true Watford fans are doing the polar opposite.

And this was of course, helped by the players. I have been encouraged to see Deeney tweeting pictures of the various outfits donned by some of the players, particularly the new ones, not least because some of them are so ridiculous it is hilarious, but also because it shows the players do have that all important changing room banter of which a team is based upon. And this was reflected in the performance too – the players appeared to care and be working for each other. Forestieri’s reaction to his goal – to run and embrace his manager – and the way in which following full time the whole team clapped the fans whilst congratulating each other, provided proof of this no end.

And of course how can I not mention Saturday without mentioning the academy products. As Samuel’s article last week proved, for the moment, Watford are an easy target, as we do have many foreign imports in our squad. However, as many Hornets fans were quick to point out to Town fans on Twitter after the game, we did in fact have five academy products in our squad in comparison to the home side’s two. And for me, another reason to celebrate Saturday’s result was the first sight of yet another promising youngster in Hoban. He wobbled at times but for a young lad, in a similar vein to Murray when he burst on to the scene last season, showed maturity was beyond his years, and this was only epitomized by an impressive second half block.

So to the sceptics, the journalists, the condemners, and pretty much anyone else who has an opinion on Watford, I hope you paid attention to what happened at the John Smith stadium on Saturday. For on Saturday something special happened – we responded. Not just the players on the pitch, but the fans in the stadium as well. We united as one and cheered each other on and celebrated together as a club. And Mr Samuel, if we are everything that is wrong with modern football as you say we are, perhaps there is not as much wrong with it as we thought after all – I am sure the travelling 668 Watford fans will tell you that anyway.

-- Kelly Somers


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