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How much to get in? Dunno, how much have you got…? 13/09/2006

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

The latest episode in the club’s rather fluid pricing policy this season sees Aston Villa tickets priced at £25 and Fulham, on a Monday night, down to £20.  A welcome departure from the £35 demanded for Man United and West Ham, it will be of interest to assess whether these exorbitant prices are revisited for the next high-profile fixture (probably Spurs) given the empty spaces in evidence against the Hammers in particular.

£30 seems to be about par for the course for the Premiership (not, not) on evidence so far, but a distinction needs to be drawn between what is “normal” (by this definition) and what is sustainable.  The club’s pricing policy ought to prioritise filling the stadium and, in so doing, encourage support that might last longer than however long we last in the top flight.  Charging £30 for a ticket might be “about average”, but it implies that you’re selling the Premiership (not, not) rather than selling Watford… if we’re serious about growing the club’s fanbase, then working out how much we can get away with fleecing people for doesn’t seem a very sensible way of going about it.

This isn’t intended as a pop at the club, whose decisions regarding ticketing have generally been sensible.  But there’s a line for all of us (and £45 or whatever for Stamford Bridge in November, incidentally, is way past mine), and the longer term health of clubs is at stake here.  Leeds charged a minimum of £26 for adults to see their game with Wolves on Sunday in Division Two, and attracted 16,000.  Alan Green, increasingly a favourite of BHaPPY, lamented empty spaces in the stands during whichever match he was commentating on at the weekend as if they reflected an embarrassingly poor effort by the locals, rather than the fact that for folk who actually have to pay for their tickets, football has long since taken itself beyond the point where some kind of value judgment becomes necessary.

Perhaps it’s no coincidence that this week the club has announced both that the stadium will become non-smoking from next season, and that they have purchased the freehold to the Red Lion pub.  Only by having expenditure on other luxuries forcibly curtailed are many likely to be able to afford Premiership (not, not) football.

Bananas at Bolton 11/09/2006

Posted by Matt Rowson in Five-a-day Awaydays.
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Disappointingly, I appear to have been the only one brave enough to take on the relatively straightforward task of smuggling a banana into the Reebok.  Dave was going to but “had too much to do”.  Poor, Messenger, poor.  Let’s have greater participation at Wigan, folks.

 One man and his banana

“More praise for plucky Hornets”. Sod off. 11/09/2006

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
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Big Sam Allardyce this weekend joined Alan Pardew in the list of managers to have sung our praises this season. In a similar vein, our enforced time-killing wander around ASDA in search of comfort food before braving the M6 was peppered by countless apologies by white-clad locals of all ages for the daylight robbery seemingly perpetrated earlier in the afternoon.

All of which no doubt sincerely intended, but it’s beginning to grate and I’m hacked off with it. I’m looking forward to the first win, the first time we bully some poor buggers, put the ball in the bloody net and come away with three points leaving their manager to bleed all over Match of the Day rather than proffer cheap compliments, and 6-0-6 to be inundated with callers protesting at a result that few will go into a game with us expecting at the moment. We want a “Spurs away, 1982” result to get the fires burning… the loudest sneer at that point, of course, having come from then Spurs boss and now Betty mentor Keith Burkinshaw.

Unexpectedly, it’s the failure to stick the ball in the net rather than issues at the other end that are costing us. “Daylight robbery” at Bolton only in that the home side were (made to look) awful with key players missing and a record signing off the pace and not looking as if he’ll fit terribly neatly into a 4-3-3 even when he gets his sharpness back. We were tidy and aggressive and were within inches on several occasions, particularly late in the game, of claiming a famous victory on a ground where little is given away.

You don’t get points for nearlys or shouldas though, and this is becoming a bit too repetitive to keep blaming fortune. Nor, really, should it be about blame… we had no right to expect to be here at all, it seems churlish to complain when all that’s missing is final touches to moves. But much as he’ll be being watched by a better class of minder now than he was last season, Marlon must be disappointed with his start, piledrivers against West Ham notwithstanding. His miss at the end of Saturday’s game caused a mass double-take in the away end, but earlier on his lack of movement subdued more than one promising breakaway. This is, for me, the source of greatest concern… his weaker performances last season were still characterised by a single-minded workrate that put pressure on opponents and made openings even when King himself wasn’t having the best of games. He’s the firmest banker in our squad, and Betty will be hoping that he rediscovers that vim sooner rather than later.

Bolton Wanderers 1 Watford 0 (09/09/06) 10/09/2006

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Today’s one word match report is:


That’s when… 07/09/2006

Posted by Ian Grant in Uncategorized.

Daytime telly rots your brain. It’s fantastic, of course: little else in life is as effortlessly and gently predictable, as pleasantly conservative. If daytime telly was a drink, it’d be a strawberry milkshake. And it’d be made from that cheap powdery stuff that leaves a load of luminous squidge at the bottom of the glass….which, as everyone knows, is the very best strawberry milkshake that there is. Spend an hour in front of Homes Under The Hammer – which probably deserves an entry all of its own in due course – and even the most cynical among us can surely not escape the comforting feeling that a fortune as a property developer awaits us…after Cash In The Attic has finished, anyway. It is a lovely thing indeed.

Part of the joy of daytime telly is that it imparts its sense of vague well-being without requiring any help from the brain whatever, and part of the daily routine of home-working involves the companionship of that inane gurgling. Of all the things that burble behind me while I’m working, there is an indisputable champion of cheap, sweet milkshakeness. That programme, god bless its mild-mannered soul, is Doctors. Its beauty is in metronomic, hypnotic repetition, minor variations on the same satisfying storyline on a daily basis. In the joyously simplistic world of Doctors, there is a cure for every ailment: communication. Every episode hinges upon a misunderstanding, every problem is solved via the peace-brokering involvement of one of the regular cast, every moral begins with “If only they’d talked to each other before it all got out of hand…” It is a soap opera that makes Neighbours seem a little bit left-field, a bit edgy and dangerous. It is the Keith Millen of the schedules. It is an utter triumph, if viewed on its own terms.

Of course, life isn’t like that. Nothing ever really resolves itself in half an hour, still less neatly and tidily and with a handy moral to carry around for future reference. That’s precisely why there’s joy to be found in escaping from all that chaos into a safe, ordered pretend world every now and again. And it’s also why this is a remarkable moment to be a Watford fan: three games into the new season, with enough evidence upon which to base predictions of ghastly failure and glorious triumph. Nothing neat and tidy about our world right now, nothing safe and predictable. Does anyone know what’s going to happen? Really?

Perhaps we could’ve done with the fixtures in a different order: the Manchester United game did dampen the spirits, with two idle weeks to contemplate being thoroughly out-classed. For the first time, it’s occurred to some people that Aidy’s bluster might be just that, nothing more substantial…especially with the failure to fill out the striking positions before the deadline. And yet…well, there’s the second half at Goodison, although we might do well not to gloss over the near-disastrous opening forty-five too readily. And there’s eighty-nine minutes of the game with West Ham, a thrilling demolition of a very decent side in front of a fulminating Rookery, only undone by that extra minute. Tantalising, that. A glimpse of the season that we might have…not only of the history that we might make, but of the riotous fun that we might have making it.

Me? I don’t know. For once, I don’t even think that I know. But I’ll tell you one thing: we should be bursting to find out….

Looking forward to Bolton… 07/09/2006

Posted by Matt Rowson in Uncategorized.
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Not that Bolton away is ever going to be an easy fixture, but this one could have fallen worse. With Kevin Davies both injured and suspended following his exchange of elbows with Hermann Hreidarsson two weeks ago, it will be interesting to assess Bolton’s attacking shape; Davies has always been pretty fundamental as a focal point to the attack, and it’s difficult to imagine Nicolas Anelka playing the same role – or fitting terribly neatly into that system at all, come to think of it. Stelios came back from international duty with a groin injury, and Ricardo Gardner is also out.

Having said all of which, Bolton hardly missed Davies last time we met, compared to which any semblance of a performance will be an improvement. Tommy Smith should get his second debut in a Watford shirt at some point, although whether Betty’s much-vaunted intention to go for teams stretches to fielding Smith, King, Henderson and Young in the same starting eleven away from home will be an interesting call…

No easy games in international football 06/09/2006

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
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Alan Green will feel that his latest cause celebre, the need for a pre-qualifying round to eliminate some of the minnows from international qualification, carries some more weight tonight after Germany’s 13-0 win over San Marino.  In championing this possibility over the weekend he cited the Champions’ League (sic) structure as a good template, eliminating as it does anyone with anything close to a spartan pressbox before Alan and co get interested.

Were a pre-qualifying round based on merit introduced, of course, it would be difficult to exclude Northern Ireland from such an exercise based on their international record pre-Sanchez.  But then they beat England, and then Spain in a phenomenal and hugely entertaining result in Belfast.  Green’s proposal, of course, would ensure that, as in the Champions’ League, the status quo is preserved… Northern Ireland would have had less chance of getting as far as that result against England, therefore less chance of moving up the rankings.  The same goes for Liechtenstein’s draw with Portugal in the last campaign.

What is likely, of course, was that Green intended that annoyingly remote places that he’s bored of travelling to be excluded from the itinerary.  Indeed, he mentioned the Baltic states as candidates for pre-qualifying, ignoring Latvia’s qualification and respectable showing in Euro 2004.  But then anyone regarding the Champions’ League (sic) as a template is never going to be too fussed about details like merit…

Bananas to Bolton 04/09/2006

Posted by Matt Rowson in Five-a-day Awaydays.
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In line with the national drive towards healthier eating habits and with a view to adding excitement and joy to potentially tedious away day trips, BHaPPY is challenging you to bring a specified item of greengrocery to each away trip this season.

To kick off this initiative, we’d like to encourage all travelling ‘orns to bring a Banana (or several, if you’re feeling ambitious) to the Reebok Stadium for Saturday’s game at Bolton. Send us a pic of you with your banana and we might put it on the blog.

For added bonus points, set yourself the challenge of procuring said bananas en route. Alternatively, of course, you could play pub cricket, but you won’t be passing many if you’re on the way up from Watford…

Inclement weather warning 04/09/2006

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
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One of the less publicised mysteries developing on transfer deadline day was the supposed loan to Hereford United of Dom Blizzard.  The gangly midfielder cum centreback cum goalkeeping sub was announced as being loaned to the Bulls early in the day, but this announcement subsequently disappeared from many newsfeeds.

The Official Site remains silent on the subject, except for the player list which had Blizzard down as on loan for a few days.  Hereford’s site merely suggests that the Blizzard loan “has not been confirmed”.  However he was absent from their line up at the weekend, and their messageboard suggests that the loan was cancelled due to “last minute complications”.

Fingers crossed that Dom’s OK.  We wait in trepidation for official comment.