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Watford 4 Sheffield Wednesday 1 (23/10/2009) 24/10/2009

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five Thunks from a fun-packed evening at Vicarage Road.

1- Well I have to confess to not having seen that coming. The continuing absence of H and the Duke still on the bench didn’t particularly lift the spirits on the way into the ground either. It’s never as much fun as when you don’t expect it, is it…?

2- Speaking of which, Angela’s performance had not been suggested by his previous outings. Strong, confident, elegant, direct, and utterly unplayable. More please.

3- Having said all of which, Wednesday were pretty shocking. They were ropier than us defensively, and whilst Tudgay looked sharp there was next to nothing going on around him. And quite what Michael Gray, the most left-footed player ever, was doing on the right flank is beyond me.

4- And not wishing to focus unduly on the negative, but Scotty really does need to start coming for things and knocking opponents out of the way whilst doing so. It’s not as if his centre-backs are really big enough to do the job for him…

5- Having, whilst hanging the washing, frequently overheard two of my younger neighbours debating the various merits of the big four ad infinitum whilst kicking a ball around, I took the bold step of inviting the pair, both nine years old, to watch, you know, a proper football match, in the stadium and everything. The morning after, both are gushing about the experience and Josh is wearing a brand new replica shirt. My work here is done… (with a bit of help from Angela, Danny, Tom et al).


Terry Challis 07/10/2009

Posted by Ian Grant in Thoughts about things.

For those of a certain vintage – well, quite a number of vintages – the cartoons of Terry Challis are as much a part of the identity of their own personal Watford as the memorabilia, the programme covers, the photographs that clouded around the football club to form something worth a special place in anyone’s heart.

You won’t need to have a Terry Challis cartoon in front of you to conjure up an image of that familiar style in your mind’s eye: the pithy, witty and often rather insightful commentary on the week’s events, followed by the inevitable highlighting of the last game’s star player, name embossed underneath. In days before blanket coverage and instant highlights, it always seemed particularly vital after a distant, unseen away game, as much a part of the reportage as Oliver Phillips’ account alongside.

If the Watford Observer was essential reading for so many years, it was because there was an ethos behind it all. A commitment to quality, a strongly-opinionated but essentially constructive outlook, a sense of personality behind the names. It was an ethos that echoed the club in good times, but put it into rather awkward relief when standards at Vicarage Road slipped.

For me, Terry Challis’ name will always ring loudest in the largely barren nineties. It was one of the times when Watford Football Club most needed some wry commentary…but also when it needed the essentially positive tint he applied with great subtlety to his work, even at the gloomiest of times. It needed that ethos, an ethos that he so helped to shape and represent.

There’ll be many others with much more personal memories of the man behind the pen. But I can recall being among the editors of the You Are My Watford book, raising money for the Supporters Trust in past times of need. Along with lots of others, we asked Terry Challis for a contribution, hoping perhaps for a drawing or two that might enliven a couple of pages. Instead, we received an original two-page cartoon covering the entire history of the club in typically charming style. As one of my co-editors said, “He’s done us proud.”

Yeah, well. He did Watford proud. Thanks, Terry.

Terry Challis’ cartoon from the You Are My Watford book. Click on the thumbnails to enlarge. Enjoy.

Watford 0 Cardiff City 4 (03/10/2009) 04/10/2009

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five thunks from the horror show at the Vic

1- Well where to start, really. Defensively, a side that was holding it together quite convincingly earlier in the campaign really isn’t doing so at all now, and that goes for the entire team, not just the back five. We could really do with a gnarled old boot like Mackay or Dyche (of five or so years ago…) in there shouting at people… since the back four are individually more than adequate, but about as watertight as, well, something with ruddy great big holes all over it at the moment.

2- Cathcart in particular, had a horror show – his stupid and utterly unnecessary tug on Bothroyd, who was heading towards the corner flag and would have managed an off-balance shot at an impossible angle at best, resulted from Cathcart losing his concentration and his man again, just as against Leicester. He failed to cope with the unlovable Bothroyd throughout, and isn’t inspiring confidence at the moment. Reports from Plymouth suggest that this is a cracking defender in the making but perhaps he needs a dominant figure alongside him. Unfortunately the same goes for most of our centre-backs, including our visually impaired absent captain.

3- Two weeks’ respite might give us room to wallow in our miserableness, we could certainly have done with something from the home games this week, but it might also herald Helguson’s return. Danny Graham, suddenly looking far from confident in front of goal, could do with that boost. No pressure again then, H.

4- Would welcome readers’ views on Hoskins… my view from the Rookery was that he’d done well enough to last an hour without contributing an awful lot, and was certainly adding nothing by the time he came off. My brother’s Upper Rous view sparked a furious defence, he should never have been taken off, had a great first half, everyone mistakes his good bits for Cleverley (possibly true). My feeling remains that whilst Ellington will not (one hopes, for the sake of our wagebill) be a long-term solution, using a hungry and effective (if over-eager) player as cover for Helguson makes rather more sense than persevering with the ineffective Hoskins.

5- It’s odd… logically, after a game in which the difference between the sides was far larger than any margin that might be attributed to erroneous refereeing decisions, one ought to be able to sit back and marvel at a particularly spectacular demonstration of how not to referee a football match without getting bloody angry about it. Alas, I am unable so to do. Andy Woolmer missed two clear penalties (one for each side), was constantly behind the play, was horrifically inconsistent in what he chose to penalise and has seemingly never heard of “playing an advantage”. After a similarly chaotic visit to Vicarage Road for the Sheffield Wednesday game last season, Mr.Woolmer’s name becomes one to look out for.