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Attention Golfers 14/07/2009

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
4 comments

Not a headline I thought I’d be using on a BHaPPY entry. Nonetheless… I have been alerted to a golf fundraising day at Bowood Park Golf Club, Camelford on Wednesday September 16th. This is a day after we play at Home Park, Plymouth which is an hour or so away, so folk of a golfing persuasion may wish to make a break of it.

£120 per team of four gets you 18 holes and a two-course meal, plus prizes from the golf shop, raffle and a putting competition. The fundraiser is to raise money for local churches.

Further details available from Jim (who I’m sure will reply to this posting if I’ve gotten anything wrong) on 01840 214877 or jim@benton-evans1@demon.co.uk.

That is all.

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End of Term Report Part 9 05/07/2009

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
10 comments

Bringing this series of entries to a close, the last five names on the roster.  Or, strictly speaking, the last three names on the roster plus two persona non grata, one of whom is unexpectedly back in the fold.

39. Danny Rose

We didn’t really get to see the best of Danny Rose until the game was almost up; signed just as the loan deadline expired, he didn’t get a start until we were all but safe and his Watford career threatened to be remembered for a grotesque miss in the home game with Southampton.  The last games of the season saw him fielded in a central midfield position for the first time and we got the point at last, a quick, clever, confident player who benefitted from the space and options afforded to him in the middle of the park.  In the end it was only slightly surprising to Hertfordshire onlookers that Rose, not Cork, made the England U21 squad for the summer’s European Championship tournament.  A week or two earlier it would have been incomprehensible.

Next Season: One can only assume that his cameo was with a view to a longer loan this season.  Whether this transpires at Watford or Reading might suggest whose idea he was.

40. Andrei Stepanov

Well… what’s to say, really?  I guess if you’re going to bring someone in as defensive cover they might as well be an Estonian international, kind of exotic.  We’ll probably never know how good he was though;  I would hazard a guess that no Watford fan would recognise him if they passed him in the street.  His only lasting significance at Vicarage Road will be the poaching of Elliott Godfrey’s record;  his two minutes plus injury time against Southampton now constitutes the briefest Watford career of anyone who made it onto the pitch.

Next Season:  On trial at Southend United, we hear.  OK.

41. Lee Hodson

Another who qualifies for inclusion on the basis of one substitute’s appearance, although his feisty half-hour against Derby at least gave us something upon which to form a judgment of the seventeen year-old.  And it was all positive… confident, positive, energetic, decisive. Hodson also set his own record, in a way; in becoming the 39th player to take the field for us last season he was involved in the setting of a new club record, previously held by Aidy Boothroyd’s Premiership season.

Next Season: More please.

Nathan Ellington

People make mistakes.  The best managers sign rubbish players on occasion… GT signed the legendary McClenaghan, not wishing to labour the point.  Ellington, at the time of his signing, looked far from the disaster he looks now;  after successful spells at Bristol Rovers and particularly Wigan, where Manchester United were reportedly on the verge of signing him more than once, he had a bad run at West Brom.  But that happens, lots of players make the wrong move at the wrong time and go on to rediscover their form.  What sets this mistake aside then, is the length of contract.  If Ellington didn’t look like a gamble, he didn’t look like a particularly safe destination for a four year contract either.  If the Collins John episode had happened prior to Ellington’s recruitment, betraying the fact that our then manager’s steadfast, dogged pursuit of a striker wasn’t a guarantee of a sound purchase, we’d have been more cautious.  Instead, the folly of the decision was more of a gradual dawning.  Ellington has rarely been shocking.  But he’s never delivered the application and goals that his price tag and contract have demanded.

Next Season: Paul Jewell’s decision to recruit him for Derby looked like a get-out-of-jail free card, even at an effective £2m loss on his transfer fee.  That Nigel Clough didn’t even want him as a freebie, effectively, speaks volumes.  A big millstone around our necks.

Steve Kabba

Another vintage of failure to supplement the King/Henderson forward line (or, to be accurate, fill in for King in absentia), the Kabba signing I find more forgivable, albeit it proved unsuccessful.  All sorts of contributory factors made recruiting a striker in January 2007 an impossible task… we were already bottom of the table, already short of goals with our main goalscorer injured and most creative player the subject of an auction that Aston Villa were destined to win.  Who would actually have voted in?  If you were good enough to be touted for the top flight then you were probably good enough to wait until the end of the season to be picked up by someone on their way up with at least a full season ahead of you, a far less thankless task.  In the end we took punts on a reject from top flight rivals (Kabba) and a youngster from lower down with potential (Hoskins).  Not cheap, and not surefire winners, but not signing a striker wasn’t an option and Ruud van Nistelrooy wasn’t about to sign on.  So Kabba rarely looked like scoring, rarely looked good enough.  He won a few brownie points on his first return from the cold in the middle of the season before last, his wildly celebrated goal against Wolves and belligerent appearance off the bench at Ipswich the highlights.  That probably spared him an entry in the “Hall of Arse“, were we still doing such things. But he wasn’t good enough, and last season was treading water for all concerned.

Next Season: finally out of contract, Kabba will probably end up somewhere in Divs 3 or 4.  His career has a lot to recover from.

End of Term Report Part 8 02/07/2009

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
7 comments

I need to get a shifty on with this.  July starts and retrospectives tend to lose their relevance…

32. Lewis Young

Here’s a big ask.  At least Jack Smith had the good sense to show up playing in a different position… and big brother never quite hit the dizzy and immediate heights that Ashley Young has done, even if he went on to capture our affections more lastingly and comprehensively.  Lewis Young has looked bright and interesting on his odd outings and yet… you’d rather hope that we’d have seen a bit more of him by now.  He’ll be 20 in September;  by that age… you see, there I go again.

Next Season: Time for Lewis to forge his own identity, perhaps.

33. Liam Henderson

There’s nothing quite so endearing as a young player coming in and giving it a bit of welly.  That Liam shared a surname with a recently departed predecessor in the same position who built much of his game around doing just that was always going to win him brownie points.  I’d like to be convinced that there’s more to come from Liam though;  spending most of his half-season at Hartlepool struggling to get on the pitch wasn’t hugely encouraging.  It would be good to see Liam do well, you can’t have too many aggro centre-forwards.  The suspicion already is that he may need to drop down a level or two to get some action.

Next Season:  needs to get on the pitch somewhere… another loan looks possible.

34. Dale Bennett

Twenty rugged minutes against West Ham comprise Bennett’s first-team action for the Hornets thus far;  Bennett spent the second half of the season playing for Kettering in the Conference, put in a decent shift against Fulham in the FA Cup and was compared to Frank Sinclair on Poppies messageboards which may or may not be a good thing.  As with Liam Henderson, Bennett fits a certain stereotype quite nicely.

Next Season:  Only a one-year extension, Bennett’s going to need to demonstrate that he can carry his good form with Kettering to a higher level.

35. Ross Jenkins

Bloody hell.  I mean, bloody hell.  Tommy Smith, at the time of writing, looks to be heading off, destination as yet unspecified but I really don’t want it to be Reading.  I don’t want Tommy to go, he’s a good guy and a terrific player, and much as we need the money and he’s 29 and a year on his contract yadda yadda yadda.  But Jenkins.  Jenkins will be a star.  And he’s our gem, our secret to enjoy for a year or two yet surely?  He’s not going to get a lot of goals, he’s not going to grab anyone who’s not paying attention.  It’s just that bastard at Reading we’ve got to worry about.  Three summers ago, Watford player Northwood in a pre-season friendly.  Harry Forrester, aged 15, came on and looked exciting and impish if exceedingly lightweight for forty five minutes.  Ross Jenkins, the same age, played the whole game at right back and nobody noticed.  Holy mary.

Next Season:  He’s the one I hope we hang on to.  Really. 

38. Rob Kiernan

With due apologies to Eddie Oshodi and Marvin Sordell, whose squad numbers weren’t followed up with any first-team action to go on, we skip on to number 38.  Kiernan is being talked up and a call-up to the Irish U19 squad is encouraging;  having been moved from midfield to centre-back last season however, the last thing he probably needed was to make his senior debut at right-back of all places.  He was promptly skinned by Palace’s Paul Ifill, a stigma that will take some recovering from.

Next Season: Knocking on the door, some loan action doesn’t seem out of the question.