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It’s about time… 12/01/2007

Posted by Ian Grant in Thoughts about things.

On the plus side, there hasn’t been the sheer, unadulterated misery of December 1999, when we couldn’t buy a half-decent performance, let alone a draw, let alone a win. The memory of that god-awful afternoon at Selhurst lives long. The league table might not lie, but it’s certainly being rather economical with the truth: we haven’t yet sunk that low, not even vaguely. You could argue that it took about three years to get over that yawning, gaping nadir.

On the other hand, that season gave us two lasting memories amid all of the glumness and the gallows humour: two famous victories that, while a little tarnished, haven’t really been obscured by the months of failure surrounding them. If anything, the obvious difficulty of it all just makes them tower all the more. If you’re Watford, you don’t win at Anfield every season. You don’t beat Chelsea often either, even if that was a very different club to the current…well, whatever it’s supposed to be. They count for something, days like that. If we are to get relegated, they make the whole exercise more than a rushed bank raid; if, somehow, we are to survive, they must surely be the catalyst.

Watching three thousand Stockport fans go completely berserk when they took the lead at the weekend, I thought that I hadn’t done that for a little while. Not just lost it in the frenzy of celebration at a goal so vital and stunning and impossible that logic simply shuts down and leaves the rest of you to get on with it. Not since, ironically, Selhurst, in all probability. One or two of those moments would make all of the difference.

Tomorrow, I wonder…?

Orangeboom at Anfield 07/01/2007

Posted by Matt Rowson in Five-a-day Awaydays.

And not before time, I think you’ll agree.  But with apologies to all concerned, some pics of Oranges at Anfield, finally.  And for the moment, I’m back on line at home…

I am Kurios Oranj

Frances Lynn looking a little bit too excited.  But not as excited as the individual above her left shoulder.

Orange Crush

Mike Raggett smuggled his orange in disguised as a wart.

Oran' Juice Jones

Steve Resco, and friend.

Watford 4 Stockport County 1 (06/01/2007) 07/01/2007

Posted by Ian Grant in Match reports.

The one-word match report, sponsored by your local Chinese takeaway, is:


New Year, Old Sprouts 04/01/2007

Posted by Ian Grant in Five-a-day Awaydays.

Not quite sure what’s happened to the oranges from Liverpool, but those of you getting impatient for fruity citrus action will just have to make do with some manky sprouts from Fulham instead. Stop grumbling.

(L-R) Sprout, Rowson, sprout.

Ian Grant showcases that essential Christmas stocking filler: the Thorntons Sprout Selection. Which one’s your favourite?

Sir Don Fraser, wisely keeping his sprouts in mint condition.

Frances Lynn, apparently practising for a stab at the shotput next time the Olympics comes around.

Note: Limited edition signed and framed prints of these photos are available from the usual outlets.

Reasons to be cheerful… 02/01/2007

Posted by Ian Grant in Thoughts about things.

…if you do it quietly when nobody’s looking. Come now, it’s not that daft. After the frozen sterility of December – during which our forward play became little more than a forlorn prayer, a remote echo of the manager’s rhetoric – it seems to me that the New Year brings a few green shoots. Just a few, mind.

Thing is, this is about survival within our own terms of reference. Barring some kind of miracle, the league table is almost irrelevant; none of the other results matter in the slightest unless we happen to starting winning and threaten to close the gap. Survival in that sense is an impossibility until we make it otherwise. But it’s very real in another sense: as a club and as a team, we can’t afford for history to repeat itself. Last time around, relegation left us with a demoralised, splintered squad that, even with the help of a somewhat fortuitous winning streak at the start of the following season, quickly fell apart altogether; for all that Vialli made massive Vega-sized mistakes, drastic surgery was required within only a few months of our return to the Football League. The question had to be answered.

This time, we’ve again fallen short of making the leap. The rest need not follow. And suddenly, there seems to be a little cause for optimism, more than just a wait for some new signings to pin our hopes upon. We still can’t win, of course, but this is a young, inexperienced Watford side and it’s doing all right. Some parts of it are doing more than all right: Adrian Mariappa, for example, has been simply terrific since his reintroduction into the right-back slot, occasional positional lapses more than balanced out by pace, control and tenacity. He looks quite a prospect.

Perhaps the same will soon be said of Tamas Priskin, whose two recent starts have provided proof of a hitherto elusive talent; he still drifts in and out, sure, but the in bits are increasingly impressive, suggesting that there’ll be plenty more to come if we learn to play to his strengths. Against Wigan, he prowled around in the space behind a high defensive line, looking confident and sharp and very much like, y’know, a striker. And there’s another surprise: it’s some considerable time since Anthony McNamee was all twinkling feet and dazzling future, but it appears as if the penny might finally have dropped. Perhaps he’s been keeping an eye on Ronaldo’s transformation: for three games, we’ve had a winger with workrate, energy, imagination…and end product.

Clutching at straws, I know. But why not? Watching young players find their feet is such a massive part of Watford Football Club, past and future. It won’t keep us in the Premiership…but for now, it’s better than meekly waiting for the inevitable and grumbling all the while. It’s resulted in rather more palatable football too, for we gain nothing by clouting the ball over the heads of the likes of McNamee, Priskin and Young, and plenty by playing it into their feet. Who knows, it might all come to nothing. But it might just bring us back in better shape some time soon.

Fulham 0 Watford 0 (01/01/2007) 02/01/2007

Posted by Ian Grant in Match reports.
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The first one-word match report of the New Year: