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End of Term Report Part 9 05/07/2009

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

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.



1. Mike S - 05/07/2009

Great stuff Matt.

Three points, if I may:

1. Had you been at Norwich, you would not cite the miss v Southampton as Danny Rose’s “thing to be remembered”.
2. Look at: http://www.wfc.net/files/kevin.pdf
In particular, at the end of page 2/start of page 3, Kevin Affleck states that NE has one year to run on his contract. I make it he is currently 2 years into it (1 with us, 1 with Derby), so either it was a 3 year contract, or Kevin is wrong. In which case, I might sue him…
3. If Devon White belongs in the Hall of Arse, then Kabba should be mayor of the Hall.

2. Matt Rowson - 05/07/2009


no, I wasn’t at Norwich. An oversight on my part; from memory of the reports back, I don’t doubt you’re right.

Ellington is two years into his contract as you say, but definitely signed for four years (see e.g. here). So Kevin must have gotten it wrong, difficult as that is to believe…

The Hall of Arse was always a bit of a subjective thing. Jason Drysdale, for example, I would never have put in there until someone did so…

3. Jeremy Clarke - 05/07/2009

JC here

All good stuff

MR enjoy the break unless you have something else up you sleeve, like ” what happened to the clock part 3″ or the “king is dead long live the clock ” or ” the return of the clock”

perhaps a Bhappy petition ..

Interesting that Docaster Rover won the 4:30 at Salisbury yesterday but Alan Devonshire came no where at Beverley!

4. Dave Hart - 05/07/2009

You’re quite right Matt, Ellington is two years into a four year deal. The compares even worse than the Ramon Vega deal. At least we never paid a transfer fee for Vega. Sadler also has two years left, Eustace one.

The one year loan deal arranged by the previous lot is probably the only saving grace. I suspect that another club will be stupid enough to sign him, very probably this Summer.

My FD at work is a big Sheffield United fan. He said that Kabba was a good player who had been very unlucky with injuries. He clearly wasn’t suited to Boothroyd’s tactics, much like several players he signed. Perhaps all the injuries have taken their toll.

I hope we all don’t go too mad over the debut of Hodson. Whilst he certainly played well, we don’t need to expectation to get too much for him. We all saw what it did to MacNamnie.

5. Ian Lay - 06/07/2009

Thanks Matt for all your hard work compiling these reports. I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed reading them. It felt a bit like the old days on BSaD.

Agree with you regarding Jason Drysdale. He wasn’t the greatest player in the world, and was better going forward than defending, but he had a wicked cross on him.



6. The Great Big O - 06/07/2009

Thanks, Matt. Good work.

Agreed with everything, too. Unfortunately. Which means I’m left wondering how we’ll put together a side that’ll avoid a relegation battle.

Still, £6m from Appy Arry Redknapp for Scott Loach could change that.

7. NickB - 09/07/2009


Good to see your appearance on Reading board (in 3rd place to my second!)

I’ve rarely, if ever, loathed anyone in football as much as this preening twat.

Talking in riddles is a sure sign of a liar

8. Jeremy Clarke - 09/07/2009

JC here

if anybody wants some out of season “hoop fishing” then the reading post is providing some fine specimens to reel in with very little bait 🙂

9. rous man - 09/07/2009

“Superman” must be worth more than £750,000.00 !!!

10. Dave Hart - 09/07/2009

I originally said that I was sorry to see Rodgers go. I must say that the last seven days have changed my opinion of him dramatically, and also of Reading’s Director of Football Nicky Hammond.

It was Hammond who organised the new manager search at Reading. He is also the one who has been making the derisory offers for Smith. I am beginning to wonder if the two of them have been in cahoots for some time.

One must give great credit to the directors at Watford, who have acted professionally throughout. One also wonders how Rodgers would have treated us if we had actually sacked him. He certainly couldn’t have treated us any worse if he tried.

I am starting to think that we have had a lucky escape here. At least we seem to have come out of the whole affair on top financially, at least so far.

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