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I’ve got your number… 30/09/2009

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
10 comments

Right then. Answers to the quiz. Disappointed in the quite pathetic number of people prepared to have a guess… we had three completely correct responses from John Slaytor, Trefor Jones and Avi Govind. At least one of you already has the book… if the other two want a copy, mail/comment me your details. Big respec’ to Mike Peter, as ever, for at least having a punt.

q1a – which is the largest squad number to have been used by Watford?
41. Yves Makaba-Makalamby had no 50 when on loan from Chelsea a few seasons ago, but never made it onto the pitch.

q1b – Which two players have worn this number
Yohann Cavalli in 2006/07 and Lee Hodson last season.

q2 – Which player has made the most appearances for Watford over this period.
Tommy Smith is the answer to this one with 285, some forty clear of Lloyd Doyley (245), who would have been my guess, followed by Neil Cox (242).

q3 – Three players have worn four different squad numbers. Name them.
This is the one that provoked most accusation, discussion and hassle over email and at Cov last night. The answer is Tommy Smith (17 from 1999-01, 9 from 2001-03, 29 in 2006-07 and 21 from 2007-09), Neil Cox (36 in 1999-00, 2 in 2000-01, 29 in 2001-02 and 5 from 2002-05) and Anthony McNamee (33 in 2001-02, 16 from 2002-04, 23 in 2004-05 and 19 from 2005-08)

q4a – Which player appeared in the same shirt number in the largest number of seasons?
Alec Chamberlain – easy points here, surely?
q4b – Which shirt number did he wear?
no. 1
q4c – How many seasons did he wear it for?
Seven – from 1999-01 and from 2002-07, Espen Baardsen usurping for one season
Which two players tie for second place in this regard?
Micah Hyde and Heidar Helguson, with five seasons each at nos. 8 and 18 respectively. Jay Demerit, Richard Lee and Lloyd Doyley record their fifth seasons in their current shirt this season.

q5a- Which player has played the most games in one shirt number?
q5b – Which shirt number?
Micah Hyde again, with 187 in the no 8 shirt. Heidar in second with 177 at 18, Lloyd in third with 157 at 12.

q6- Which shirt number has been used in the largest number of games?
no 8, with three steadyish incumbents in Hyde, Mahon and Eustace. Shirts 9, 5 and 4 each some 40 apps behind.

q7a- Which two shirts have had the largest number of incumbents?
Another hotly debated topic. Yes, OK Walker, 7 is one of them, 33 the other.
q7b- How many incumbents has each of these shirts had?
Nine each. Wearers of no 7 are (in chronological order) Michel Ngonge, Carlton Palmer, Allan Nielsen, Bruce Dyer, Carl Fletcher, Chris Eagles, Damien Francis, Liam Bridcutt, and Don Cowie. Wearers of no 33: Dominic Foley, Fabien Forde, Anthony McNamee, Scott Fitzgerald, Dominic Blizzard, Junior Osborne, Trevor Benjamin, Jordan Parkes and Liam Henderson. None of the wearers of 33 have worn it for more than one season, and it has of course its tenth incumbent this season in Lee Hodson.
q7c- How many shirt numbers have been sported by one player only?
None.

8a- Which shirt number is the most cherished, in that the average number of appearances per incumbent is the largest?
That would be no 8 again, by some distance, with its three incumbents (see above) averaging 123.3 apps each. No 18, averaging 68.5 apps, and no 3, 64.4, some way behind.
8b- And which shirt number has been worn only once by each of its incumbents?
The number 40, worn once each by Theo Robinson against Newcastle at the end of 2006-07, and Andrei Stepanov in his record brief Watford career vs Southampton ast season.

The answer to the tie-breaker, in how many of the 508 competitive games that we’ve played over these ten seasons was the most used shirt employed, is 370.

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Watford 2 Coventry City 3 (29/09/2009) 30/09/2009

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
7 comments

Five thunks from the chaos against Cov…

1- This was, of course, what we were always at risk of with our thin and inexperienced squad. The continued absences of Helguson, Demerit and (effectively) Severin deprive us of experience where we have little to spare; the additional absences of Ellington, Jenkins, Cathcart and (ultimately) Hodson left us looking very sparse indeed. But it’s lack of nous that’s the issue really… there’s no way that points should have been dropped from half time onwards against a lamentable Coventry City side.

2- In particular that centre-back pairing of Wright and Ward was something else. A less mobile defensive partnership hasn’t been witnessed at Vicarage Road since Merthyr Town fielded a wood stove and a wardrobe at the back in 1928. That said, Leon Best’s equalising goal was slapstick stuff. A quite astonishing number of yellow shirts standing around watching… both sides had horrible nights at the back, Coventry’s win ultimately accidental.

3- An interesting test of Danny Graham’s mettle coming up, as he experienced his first bad night at Watford. We could probably do with something going in off his backside against Cardiff, thanks to the international break it’ll be a long wait before his next chance to get over yesterday evening.

4- Graham wasn’t the only one to miss chances… Will Hoskins’ slightly unfortunate miss in the opening minute nonetheless defied belief, whilst Liam Henderson’s late miss was another costly error. Kieran Westwood meanwhile was undoubtedly the man of the match… the two first half saves denying Graham’s breakaway and later Hoskins’ flicked backheel were something else.

5- Can those booing the attempts at short corners explain themselves please? Once again we started with no six footers outfield last night against a goalkeeper confidently taking everything (see 4) and a defence that wasn’t much cop at anything beyond occupying space (see 2), lumping it into the box wasn’t likely to be a fruitful option was it?

Reading 1 Watford 1 (26/09/2009) 27/09/2009

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
19 comments

Look, we weren’t there, ok? So if you’re looking for insightful thunks you’d better look somewhere else; the reasons for non-attendance shall, as ever, remain private but it should go without saying that it was fairly heavy stuff.

I’m assuming that people will want to discuss the match anyway, so do so here if you really must. However in an attempt to wreck any thoughts you had of doing some work over the next couple of days, here’s a quiz. I sincerely hope it does your head in…

All questions relate to the ten seasons from 1999/2000 to 2008/2009, these being the ten (completed) seasons during which Watford have worn squad numbers. The answers are all workoutable, but in most cases only if you’re very sad (like me) and even then I’m guessing that it’ll take you a while to work out rather than guess – on that basis answers will be revealed on Wednesday morning whilst I’m waiting for my house purchase to complete (!!!).

You can enter by commenting on this message… responses containing quiz entries will not be “approved” and published before Wednesday, so don’t include Reading commentary and quiz answers in the same response.

In all questions an “appearance” means in the starting eleven or, equally, an active (used) substitute. A squad number is only “used” if the incumbent starts a game or comes on as sub.

And remember…2009/10 not included.

The prize for the winner is a copy of some book or other. If they’re bothered….

That is all.

1a- Which is the largest squad number that has been used by Watford? (1)
1b- Which two players have worn this number? (2)

2- Which player has made the most appearances for Watford over this period? (1)

3- Three players have worn four different squad numbers. Name them. (3)

4a- Which player appeared in the same shirt number in the largest number of seasons? (1)
4b- Which shirt number did he wear? (1)
4c- How many seasons did he wear it for? (1)
4d- Which two players tie for second place in this regard? (2)

5a- Which player has played the most games in one shirt number? (1)
5b- Which shirt number? (1)

6- Which shirt number has been used in the largest number of games? (1)

7a- Which two shirts have had the largest number of incumbents? (2)
7b- How many incumbents has each of these shirts had? (1)
7c- How many shirt numbers have been sported by one player only? (1)

8a- Which shirt number is the most cherished, in that the average number of appearances per incumbent is the largest? (1)
8b- And which shirt number has been worn only once by each of its incumbents? (1)

Total out of 21.

Tie Breaker: wrt q6… in how many of the 508 competitive games that we’ve played over these ten seasons was the most used shirt employed?

Watford 3 Leicester City 3 (19/09/2009) 20/09/2009

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.
26 comments

Five thunks from an astonishing afternoon at Vicarage Road.

1- Only one place to start. Jaysus. The level of expectation associated with Helguson’s return might have been slightly moderated by his injury-burdened last few years, but only slightly. It was still wholly unreasonable to expect him to pick up where he left off, the whirling dervish focal point of the team. As it turned out he exceeded all expectations… announcing his arrival by flying into Leicester’s goalkeeper within thirty seconds and deflecting the ball narrowly the wrong side of the post. Then forcing the issue that led to Graham’s fine goal. Then the moment that brought the house down… classic Heidar, flying in vertically at the far post with little concern for the potential collision with said goalpost. This prompted one of those goal celebrations where you finally stand up five rows and twenty-seven seats from where you started, untangling yourself from others’ discarded limbs. A blinding moment. And then what might have been the winner, and if the celebration that greeted this one was relatively muted it was only because our reserves of energy and incredulity were already long exhausted.

Most of all, Helguson gave our attack focus. In the first half we’d done OK for the most part, but Leicester, who looked a decent side, coped pretty comfortably in the final third and took the chances that came their way. In the second Leicester looked very far from comfortable as we mutated from a tidy but perhaps limited side to something quite irresistible. It’s no coincidence that Leicester only got a foothold again when H went off injured… until that point they had looked like caving in completely. It’s difficult not to salivate at the potential of this team if we can keep H fit on that evidence.

2- Which said, it’s unlikely that we’ll be facing Wayne Brown every week. If there are any remaining dissenting voices wondering why we got shot of him then surely no longer… as one BHaPPY contributor of note commented, the second half was surely his finest for Watford and he was playing for the other side. Comfortable enough in the first half he utterly failed to cope with his new charge in the second. Whilst his prompting of his keeper to put the ball out so that H could receive treatment was worthy of respect, one can’t help but suspect that he was simply desperate to get the Iceman off the field as quickly as possible…

3- Craig Cathcart. Find myself reminded of a young Rio Ferdinand… cool, composed, effortless for the most part… and then suddenly falling on his arse at the least opportune moment. Early days, but we’ll need tighter performances than that from our new loanee.

4- Conceding the late equaliser was a bit of a choker… but whilst it’s justifiable to ask who was supposed to be marking N’Guessan, reportedly a summer target for ourselves from Lincoln, I think we can forgive Hodson’s inability to prevent the cross from the left. Hodson, after all, provided the crosses for all three Watford goals – the third, with his weaker foot, an absolute gem – and all from deep positions. Nigel Gibbs’ name being mooted in the Rookery may burden the youngster with unreasonable expectation, but he already looks nailed on at right back.

5- Reading. Chortle.

Watford 1 Barnsley 0 (12/09/2009) 13/09/2009

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.
28 comments

Five thunks from an enjoyable afternoon at Vicarage Road.

1- One of those wins that’s worth more than the three points, if you know what I mean. Much as the start to the season has been reasonable on the pitch (and much better than reasonable on occasions), failing to record our first home win against the bottom-of-the-table side after all the recent departures, revelations and lack of recruitment would have fuelled apprehension. As it turned out we got the win, and deserved it with some bright, clever football.

2- …although if there’s a criticism, it’s that our superiority in possession didn’t really translate to creating chances; there was a certain tentativeness in front of goal that we could do with sorting out pretty sharpish. I remember an Icelandic forward who once had a no-bullshit approach to attacking the ball in the box. That would be handy.

3- With the music stopped and the musical chairs over for the timebeing it’s a little clearer which bodies we’re left with, and there are encouraging signs of a couple of the large number of expensive persona non grata finding their way back in from the cold. Stand up John Eustace, who was little short of magnificent in the middle of the park in a strong all-round team performance. An encouraging cameo from Mr.Ellington, too. Now that would be a comeback to rival Southampton in 1980/81…

4- Extraordinary that after such hand-wringing over our lack of defensive options, the four academy products who lined up together did such an admirable job. Take a bow in particular Captain Mariappa; clearly a much-needed organiser at the back, time will tell whether he’s a leader too. Also Dale Bennett, for a very fine full debut.

5- Having said which, Barnsley looked pretty much what you would expect a side without a league win to look like. There was little evidence of the vim that a new manager might have expected to instill and, critically, the Tykes didn’t exploit their physical superiority anything like as effectively as they might have done. Darren Moore and Kayode Odejayi in particular are big old units, and yet neither bullied our lads as they might have, and one fears others will. Odejayi in particular doesn’t seem to have impressed his new boss… a sub being subbed doesn’t imply total satisfaction.

I dun a book 04/09/2009

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
8 comments

Many of you will know this already, and therefore this post contains nothing new. Visitors from other clubs who have chanced upon BHaPPY are of course welcome, but perhaps won’t be overly interested in what follows. For those of you who’ve been directed here in search of information on growing fruit and vegetables I am genuinely sorry, far more so than I am for the Watford supporters who felt that our Five-a-day Awaydays (see category listing right) were something of a betrayal. Get over yerselves.

However, the two or three of you that remain unaccounted for in the above may be interested to learn that I’ve penned a book on the Hornets, due to be released a week today (Sep 11). “Watford On This Day” chronicles the club history by running through the calendar year and detailing an event or events that happened on each day from January 1st through to December 31st. I’m dead proud of it. I would say that, of course, but I’m saying it anyway.

The book goes on sale at the club shop next week, and will also be available to order online. You can also order direct from Amazon and the book will be available at all your favourite high-street stores (at least in Watford…), but the club have a couple of weeks’ exclusivity… so if you’re going to Barnsley or Leicester you’re better off buying it from the club anyway and saving yourself p&p.

If you’re too tight to spend your hard-earned coppers on it, you might want to try entering the Official Site’s on line competition and win a copy signed by everyone’s favourite pie-eating pint-quaffing Watford manager; the answer to the question has been discussed on these pages previously for those of you paying attention.

We now return you to your regular programme. Thanks very much…