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Savile Rogue Scarf Comp Results 30/11/2012

Posted by Matt Rowson in Nonsense.
2 comments

Many thanks to all those who entered our competition to win a Savile Rogue Watford scarf.   The objective was to name a Watford player past or present who had played for each of the clubs in the Premier League and each of the other clubs in the Championship.  Beyond that, the winning entry would be the one whose 43 named players had started the largest number of Southern League, Football League and Premier League games for Watford between them.

No player’s name could be used against more than one club, and each player used must have appeared in at least one competitive game both for Watford and for the team in question.

62 entries were received, of which 37 successfully put a name to each of the 43 slots.  Of these, the most prolific entry in terms of Watford appearances was received from Jem Whiteley whose nominations racked up 8986 appearances between them;  Jem wins the scarf… good work Jem, if you could reply to this posting with your address details I’ll pass them on to Savile Rogue.

See below for a link to the full results table.  A prerequisite for a good score was remembering Luther Blissett’s brief loan at West Brom under Steve Perryman; kudos too to those who remembered Andy Hessenthaler spending an odd loan under Peter Taylor at Hull after he resigned as Gillingham’s player-manager, or David Holdsworth’s one league cup run out for Bolton.  Beyond that it was a matter of deciding where to most profitably slot the likes of Bobby Downes, Neil Cox, Tommy Smith and Tommy Mooney – many appearances for the Hornets, and with spells at many other candidate clubs besides.

The optimum score, I believe, was 9110, the composition of which is also detailed below.  However this is only one possible avenue to this score… the mathematical complexity of the problem is suggested by the fact that Jem’s entry and the Optimum version linked below contain the same names against Aston Villa, Huddersfield, Cardiff, Derby, Stoke and QPR… but in a completely different configuration.  Many congrats if you can improve on the optimum claimed… rest assured that I’m past caring.

The subtlest of errors in nominations was the naming of a player who was once signed, or had a trial with the club in question but never made the stipulated competitive appearance.  This invalidates nominations for Tommy Mooney at Aston Villa, Nathaniel Chalobah at ChelseaAlec Chamberlain at Everton, both Tommy Barnett and Danny Drinkwater at Manchester UnitedJason Drysdale at Newcastle United and both Andy Hessenthaler and, the most frequent error, Stewart Scullion at Charlton Athletic (thanks Trefor…).

Other errors can loosely be categorised as either:

  • Putting a player’s name against two clubs (the second of which, arbitrarily, is invalidated)
  • Leaving a team blank
  • In very few cases, putting a player down with no association with the club in question.

In one case Burnley had been deleted from the list altogether.  Was tempted to award bonus points for this, but decided that this was possibly against the spirit of the exercise.  I will publish all entries as comments to the previous post (if you submitted a revised entry your earlier post has been deleted).  Been as generous as I can be re spelling…  happy to discuss or explain any queries, but please be polite… 🙂

So for those with an insatiable appetite for such data, enjoy:

Full Results Table

Club-by-Club Summary

Full Club-by-Club Listing

Player List in order of Most Nominations plus Detail!

Alphabetical player listing (for confirming your score!)

Note that both the Club-by-Club summary and the full Club listing are a little distorted by the occasions on which a player was nominated next to two clubs – since only valid entries are counted, the discarded lower entry in the team list is arbitrarily missing.  Also, the club-by-club list only lists one name as the most popular pick, even in the event of a tie.  Sorry about that, could have sorted but need some kip…

That’s about it, except to confirm that Savile Rogue have specified a discount code for BHaPPY readers…. specifying the discount code HAPPY at the checkout will get you 10% of all purchases.  The Watford scarf in question can be found here.

You will now be returned to your normal program…

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Sheffield Wednesday 1 Watford 4 (27/11/2012) 28/11/2012

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
14 comments

Five thunks from another big away win in Yorkshire

1- 3:30 a more than reasonable time to leave North Bedfordshire for Sheffield.  Some might say excessively cautious, but only those who don’t appreciate the added value of a bit of food and a swift drink to set oneself up for the evening’s entertainment.  As it turned out a good hour and a half was spent queuing near Leicester.  Radio and motorway signs advised of livestock on the carriageway;  subsequent information revealed the miscreant to be a lone pig making a stand on the embankment next to Leicester Forest East Services (the swine!  ham-fisted attempts to apprehend him, etc etc). As a consequence we stumbled breathlessly into the cavernous away end warm from running, prickled by the cold, shortly after Fernando Forestieri’s equaliser – having missed a quarter of the game, devoting a thunk to the episode seemed reasonable.  It’s slightly unfair to blame the pig for our late arrival of course, I’m sure he had a worse night than we did, but I shall enjoy my next bacon sandwich.

2- As ever, late arrival at a game provoked a complex mixture of emotions.  Relief and exhaustion certainly, and hunger.  And need for the loo.  But also a perhaps unreasonable resentment that the whole thing started without you…  and a disorientation borne of the usual routine being thrown up into the air.  This wasn’t helped by a similarly disjointed offering in front of us;  having come from behind and being in by far the better form we were understandably the more relaxed, the more composed, but the game was nonetheless a fairly even contest at this stage.  The home side closed us down a long way up the pitch resulting in some nervous moments in front of us as Hoban, Hall and Ekstrand cut it rather fine when passing around in the wake of attention from loan duo Sidibe and Bothroyd.  We perhaps had a let-off with the penalty appeal… Bothroyd cut in from the right, looked for the penalty by shifting his body in front of Pudil but the Czech was duped, fouled his opponent, and whilst cover was arriving and the attack came at an angle a less generous ref might have shown a different card.  As it was, Lines’ penalty was weak, Almunia saved well, and it was significant that none of the dejected Owls whose opinions we enjoyed on the way out on BBC Radio Sheffield’s phone in (number of mentions of “Watford”: zero, references to “the likes of that”: one) criticised the official’s decision…

3- …because by then any resentment was blown into irrelevance by Wednesday’s truly lamentable, stinking second half performance.  Even in the first half, and certainly with the scores still level in the second, there was an utter lack of urgency on the part of the home side.  No leadership, certainly, and no fight;  as the half went on Wednesday’s forwards were isolated, their midfield sending passes comically into the stand… and attempts on goal were typified by the final shot of the game:  Antonio made rare positive run down the left, beat his man and laid the ball back to the edge of the area for the oncoming forward to clout the ball high and wide.  Defensively it was no better;  Martin Taylor’s half-time introduction brought none of the calm authority that we remember from Vicarage Road… indeed quite the opposite, as all three second half goals were scored under the minimum of opposition attention.  It’s tempting to read too much into an isolated awful performance – I’ve only seen Wednesday the once, and it’s worth remembering that neither this monstrosity, or this one, or this one, or – my personal favourite – the grotesque defeat at home to Hull City under Colin Lee occurred during a relegation season.  You can get away with the odd stinker, you just need to be less rubbish than three other teams in the final reckoning.  But you fear for Wednesday on this evidence.

4- Which isn’t to devalue our own contribution.  We’ve played bad, or struggling, or nervous teams before and not dispatched them as ruthlessly as this.  Alex Geijo’s reward for a thoroughly inspiring, hardworking  and often selfless performance was for the defenders who outnumbered him to give him plenty of space to dispatch Yeates’ right wing free kick with a textbook downward header… more fitting still would have been for his earlier quite brilliant near post header to have entered the goal at the foot of the post, but an equally magnificent glove from Kirkland kept it out.  Troy Deeney – who, as was pointed out, looks far bulkier than last season to no obvious detriment whatsoever – trotted on to replace the irrepressible Forestieri and barely broke stride before getting on the end of another very deep Yeates free kick, bringing it down with his first touch and rifling home his fourth in consecutive games with his second.  Absolutely criminal defending again, but a finish of awesome confidence nonetheless – at this point the home stands emptied echoing another memorable midweek trip to Sheffield and provoking chants of “is there a fire drill?” from the unsympathetic travelling ‘Orns.  Yeates’ goal, after two assists, the pick of the bunch… Cassetti in acres of space crossed for Deeney to cushion back to Yeates to drive home from twenty yards on the half-volley.  Great finish, rendered easier by the lack of marking.  Devastating stuff then, and impressive having overcome the early setback and some iffy moments in the first half…

5-…and whilst I’m echoing an earlier closing thunk, all the more remarkable given that we were without our captain, our most creative midfielder, our most reliable defender, and left our leading scorer on the bench throughout.  Plus Bia, Nosworthy, Neuton…  all of which could be summarised by “hey, we’ve got a big squad”.  But such quality… to the extent that the unexpected arrival of Carl Dickinson, who by the end of last season was a just about passable left back, looked a little incongruous albeit he did nothing wrong in his few minutes of action.  If any clearer indication were needed that this is a side capable of great things in this division… it’s been a long time since we were able to discard a left back of any competence at all.  You.  Orns.

Competition: Win a Cashmere Watford scarf from Savile Rogue 23/11/2012

Posted by Matt Rowson in Nonsense.
82 comments

Once again, Savile Rogue have very kindly offered BHaPPY readers the chance to win one of the world’s finest cashmere football scarves in Watford colours.

Savile Rogue scarves (it says here…) give a nod to football terraces of yesteryear, shunning in-your-face logos and cheap nylon in favour of a traditional bar design and the comfort, quality and warmth of top grade wool.

To get your hands on a Watford scarf, here’s the deal…

Listed below the are the names of all the (other) clubs in the top two divisions in England.

You need to copy and paste these lists into the comments column below, and next to each enter the name of a Watford player past or present who has also turned out for the team in question in at least one competitive match.

  • No player can be used more than once
  • The winner is the entrant who fills the most slots – in the event of a tie, the winner will be the entrant whose listed players have started the largest combined number of Premier League, Football League or Southern League games for Watford (prior to this Saturday’s game with Blackpool).  If there is still a tie, the earlier entrant wins.
  • Please enter player names in the format  J.Barnes .
  • Loans at Watford or at other club are fine, as long as the players concerned featured in at least one competitive game for each.

Entries close on  Thursday November 29th.

Note that Saville Rogue are only able to dispatch the prize to a UK address.

Entries will not be published until the closing date.

That is all.

PREMIER LEAGUE

Arsenal

Villa

Chelsea

Everton

Fulham

Liverpool

ManCity

ManU

Newcastle

Norwich

QPR

Reading

Southampton

Stoke

Sunderland

Swansea

Tottenham

WBA

Wigan

WestHam

CHAMPIONSHIP

Barnsley

Birmingham

Blackburn

Blackpool

Bolton

Brighton

BristolC

Burnley

Cardiff

Charlton

Palace

Derby

Huddersfield

Hull

Ipswich

Leeds

Leicester

Middlesbrough

Millwall

NForest

Peterborough

SheffWed

Wolves

Watford 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 (17/11/2012) 18/11/2012

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.
56 comments

Five thunks from a relieved Vicarage Road

1- There’s no disputing that the first half dismissal of Christophe Berra changed the game irrevocably. Stale Solbakken was obviously of the opinion that it was harsh… there wasn’t much of an appeal, but on review there’s clearly a foul by the defender, holding on to Deeney’s arm. It’s not much of a foul, cynically you could say more fool Berra for not doing the job properly – it was stupid, and neither Deeney’s strength in shaking off the challenge nor his decision not to go down have any bearing on the accuracy of the call. Having suffered on the back of some harsh judgements earlier in the season, it would be daft not to take advantage when they go in our favour… but Wolves haven’t got much of a case here.

Up to that point Wolves had been doing a reasonable job of emulating Ipswich’s successful strategy from earlier in the season, sitting deep and hounding us in possession. You wouldn’t go as far as to say that they had us worried… Wolves were never secure enough at the back for that even before the sending off, but we were a little bit precarious ourselves. The red card blew their game plan out of the water.

2- We capitalised quickly, and were terrific for the rest of the half. The goal came within ten minutes, and it was so nearly magnificent. A Wolves attack having been repelled the ball broke to Yeates on the left. He shovelled a pass down the flank into the path of the haring Forestieri, the Argentine squared for Chalobah. From one end to the other in a flash, so nearly brilliant… except Chalobah fluffed his lines, his weak shot allowed Ikeme to make a good block and we were fortunate that the rebound fell for the teenager who tucked his first senior goal beyond the keeper.

From then on… we didn’t do anything dramatically different to what we’d been doing previously actually, but the context changed it completely. Location too, in fairness, since we were twenty yards further up the pitch. Nonetheless, we were passing the ball from side to side, stretching the play whilst retaining possession. Now, at a goal and a man up, this meant we were making our opponents run and not giving the ball away, whereas at the start of the half pretty much the same approach was frustrating, a lack of progress was an issue. And every now and again we were getting close enough to Wolves’ goal to open them up again… we finished the half well on top, with one reckless onlooker tweeting that we were the very last team that you wanted to be a goal and a man down to.

3- One can understand the temptation to try to accommodate the prodigious talents of both Forestieri and Vydra. And we know that Zola is keen for the team to be flexible, to be able to play a number of formations… in fairness, such was our dominance at the end of the first half that even with the benefit of hindsight you could understand Zola deciding that this was a game with which we might experiment.

The experiment was not a success, the 3-4-3 formation never as comfortable or fluid as 3-5-2 had been. We were still the dominant side in terms of possession but were not the dominant force of before the break and perplexingly we were rushed in possession, too keen to gamble, to risk giving up possession. And that’s something I never thought I’d write about a Zola side. Nor were we secure defensively, all of a sudden, despite a thoroughly competent performance from Joel Ekstrand. Wolves’ goal was still a freak… if it was deliberate it was bold in the extreme; Sako, comfortably the visitors’ stand-out player, struck a long-range free kick which still required a chronic error of judgement from Almunia to enter the net. Up to that point there was no suggestion of a Wolves fightback. Thereafter, however, Wolves were much more involved than seemed credible at the end of the first half; they would have kitchen sinked us in the dying minutes whatever our formation, but we left the stadium feeling we had gotten away with it having made far harder work of the job than seemed necessary.

4- Another criticism would be the quality of our finishing, perversely given the extraordinary master class at Elland Road. Two aspects to this… firstly the rather overconfident showboating at the start of the second half when much as we had been well on top the margin was only a single goal. Secondly more poor decision making in front of goal throughout, particularly in the second half, which probably cost us a more comfortable victory, Chalobah, Hogg and Forestieri particularly at fault (albeit Fernando did an encouragingly gutsy job of the defensive side of his wide attacking role in the second half).

Both criticisms have to be set in the context of what is still an extremely young side of course; of the 11 that finished the game three were in their teens and all but two (Almunia and Pudil) were 24 or younger. We’ve applied such caveats in assessing our own teenagers in the past, hardly even-handed not to apply the same level of understanding to youngsters signed to Chelsea or Udinese.

5- And these apparently negative thunks shouldn’t detract from the fact that, you know, we beat Wolves. On the back of wins against Leeds and Leicester over previous weekends. Albeit a Wolves without a win in seven, but nonetheless a side of whom seven starters (not including the dangerous Sako) were regulars in the top flight last season. Whatever the limitations of the performance we nonetheless followed up a dramatic, eye-catching victory with another win – a damp squib had been feared in the pub beforehand. Steadier progress, but just as valuable a three points. You orns.

Watford 0 Millwall 0 (06/11/2012) 07/11/2012

Posted by Ian Grant in Match reports.
17 comments

1. I confess, I’ve found all of this a little difficult. In truth, I have a natural resistance to change that’s perfectly willing to defy sense if needs be: no matter how absurd it might seem, there’s part of me that’d prefer the comfortable, flawed, everyday familiarity of Carl Dickinson to the altogether more continental, polished and exotic Daniel Pudil. There’s part of me that hasn’t really got the hang of Manuel Almunia, no matter how fine and handsome and musketeery he might be; part of me that’s desperately eager to damn Fernando Forestieri for being a cheating little fraudster rather than gasp at his magic tricks. There’s part of me that simply doesn’t believe in Neuton, that tries to picture him and then gets lost in the same impenetrable brow-furrowing fog occupied by things like quantum physics, Jupiter’s moons and Sarah Palin. And if we really get to the heart of the matter, there’s an awful lot of me that just wanted Ray Lewington to be the manager forever and hasn’t entirely let go of the idea, even now.

That being so, I have thus far spent the season exploring the vital difference between the win that you celebrate by applauding happily as if genuinely pleased on someone else’s behalf, perhaps a nice friend who’s baked a cake and won a rosette, and the win that you feel in your gut, forcing its way out into the world as a roar of pure, instinctive, thoughtless celebration. This isn’t anything new: the grand upheavals of the Vialli and Boothroyd eras left me similarly adrift for a while too (something which I credit almost entirely to that natural conservatism rather than some sixth sense for an imminent catastrophe, so you can stop glancing nervously towards the lifeboats…).

What’s been required is some normality, some grounding for it all. The words “sustainable Championship club”, spoken by Scott Duxbury at last week’s fans’ forum, were sweet music to these ears. The hard graft and discipline evident in Saturday’s stirring win over Leicester started to meke me feel as if this was a team of substance rather than purist fantasy. And here we are, Christmas come early: a goalless draw so dour and cold and grey that it could only belong to this division, the unmistakeable product of a British winter and all the more wonderful for it. Getting five thunks out of this is going to require a heroic effort. I feel right at home, at last.

2. Credit due to Kenny Jackett’s Millwall, I think. There’s nothing at all wrong with a gameplan that works, as theirs emphatically did; there’s no reason on earth to vacate the spaces we’d like to fill with displays of our pretty one-touch passing. (That didn’t stop Peterborough from doing it, granted, but they’re mad.)

They were very well organised indeed, suitably obstinate, occasionally a bit cynical, and justifiably intent on preventing our creative players from enjoying any unchallenged possession in the interesting bits of the pitch. Behind an industrious midfield, Danny Shittu stubbornly refused to come up with a match-changing catastrophe of the kind at which he excelled when we employed him (although, thankfully, he also failed to dump a set piece header in the top corner, something at which he also excelled). It was thoroughly workmanlike, and I don’t mean that in anything other than a good way.

There will be raised eyebrows at beating a potent Leicester side at the weekend, then failing to dispose of Millwall…but these were two entirely different propositions. Indeed, this one was more challenging in its own way, an example of what we might face more often if we do gather ourselves into a promotion-chasing force over the next year or so. If I’m suggesting that the visitors were overly negative, that’d be unfair: they had as many (or as few) opportunities to win the game as we did. Barely a moment when they let their guard down, though. A really tough evening.

3. For all that, and the facetiousness of thunk #1 aside, we can take more than one or two positives away with us. The defence, most obviously…only the third clean sheet of the season and one that we needed to fight hard for, standing up to the physical threat of Darius Henderson and Chris Wood without Fitz Hall in our corner.

We weren’t ever entirely comfortable, but Tommy Hoban continues to invite overblown superlatives (from which I’ll just about manage to refrain, aware that those superlatives have been lavished on others who’ve fallen away after that initial surge) and Joel Ekstrand appeared to enjoy himself more as it went on and Lloyd Doyley was just made for that position. Not comfortable, but, like our opponents, we didn’t let our guard down. A nil-nil born of hard defensive graft rather than absence of attacking ambition.

And if you scratch below the surface, you can find encouragement elsewhere too. For all that we were repeatedly thwarted, there was a persistence and a determination about us that I found rather heartening. Easy to get sucked into doing what difficult opponents want you to do, to lose your train of thought in the battle…but our best chance of the second half, Forestieri smuggled into the six yard box via an exchange with Deeney and dragging his shot across the face of goal, was born of precisely the patient creativity we’ve been trying to nurture. You only need to make that breakthrough once and everyone goes home happy. We could get much too carried away with babies and bathwater, when, in fact, we’re a young side that’s still learning, a young side that will have learnt a lot from this. We can give ourselves time.

4. If there was a duff note, one perceptively seen and amplified by Millwall’s setup, it was in the wide areas. Pushed out onto the flanks by the stuffiness of the midfield, we had ample opportunities to deliver quality balls into the box…and we failed repeatedly. Pudil and Cassetti were the worst culprits, but they could justifiably point to the fact that there were rarely more than a couple of yellow shirts awaiting their delivery, often just a labouring Deeney on his own. Our opponents had it right: push them wide and they can’t hurt us.

Faced with a need for more effective width, we brought on the diminutive Iketchi Anya, whose approach to wing wizardry rather resembles the courtship dance of a small tropical bird and is equally in danger of extinction. Player least likely to be signed by Neil Warnock, no question. Alexandre Geijo was no more successful, failing to react after Abdi’s chip had struck the bar; he has yet to drop a hint of goalscoring exploits to come. Yet these are young players and there’s something quite pleasing about the inevitable misfits and misfires, something reassuringly Watford-ish about the flat batteries, frayed edges and occasional sharp splinters in this collection of stuff from Udinese’s broom cupboard. It’s growing on me.

5. Um, that’s all. In the absence of anything more to say, a belated recommendation for the first volume of Tales from the Vicarage, Lionel Birnie’s compilation of writing about Watford from a variety of familiar and less-familiar names on a variety of familiar and less-familiar themes. Everyone will have their favourite bit, but it’s a stimulating and sometimes stirring collection throughout. You should treat yourself.

Watford 2 Leicester City 1 (03/11/2012) 03/11/2012

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.
22 comments

Five thunks from a well-earned victory

1- Not sure what it is about Leicester. Admittedly the Foxes have been relatively frequent opponents over the past thirty years or so… but the number of memorable, exciting or noteworthy games is striking. Today’s encounter was more understated than the last three editions of this fixture, each of which has been turned by a late goal and each of which had swung hither and thither throughout. Nonetheless… this was absorbing, enjoyable, occasionally breathtaking stuff that didn’t permit attention to wander or discussion to drift.

2- A theme of recent thunks has been the evidence of gradual improvement – evolution amidst the revolution. More evidence of this today. In many respects the pattern of the game and the challenges presented were comparable to Middlesbrough almost a month ago. Then, as today, we started strongly against competent opposition and took the lead before fading as the visitors found a foothold. The plots deviate entirely just before half time, of course, since today we were spared a ludicrous dismissal to force a rewrite of the second half script, but comparisons of the opening periods reflect improvement in the interim. Particularly defensively of course; much as Leicester had spells of pressure and we rode our luck a little at the end of the first half there was none of the flimsiness that had already cost us the lead against Boro by half time. Hall, Hoban, Doyley all tremendous again, it will be interesting to see how we cope with disruption to what suddenly appears to be a settled first eleven if Onesize’s injury keeps him out on Tuesday. But it was more than just defensive improvement; our early dominance against Boro owed a lot to good use of width, to pulling Boro from side to side. Today our movement and control sliced Leicester to unstitchable threads, culminating in Abdi’s gorgeous and calmly taken opener.

3- We’re in danger of reserving a thunk every week for Fernando, but it’s not as if one can ignore him. Here, too, there was clear evidence of improvement. Yes, his decision making at the crunch wasn’t always what it might have been, and yes there was evidence of frustration as he tired in the second half. But here, for the first time and sumptuously, he linked up with the colossal Deeney to devastating effect. Dropping deeper than previously, even tracking back to snarl into a tackle on a surprised Anthony Knockaert who he left on his backside, this was a far more industrious, less fitful performance than we’ve seen previously, whilst still displaying his astonishingly quick feet and incomparable ability to hang on to the ball. Significantly, he stayed on his feet throughout – scarcely credible in the context of his earlier performances – and his goal celebration, a running high five along the front of the Rookery, was a thing of joy.

4- There were other strong appearances out there, too. Admittedly I missed Charlton, but this was as complete and robust a performance as I’ve seen from Almen Abdi, who supplemented his poise with the ball with industry without it and lasted almost the full 90. Both Cassetti and Pudil impressed; the former hasn’t looked a liability since the change in formation gave him the luxury of Doyley on the cover, whilst Pudil’s form has fluctuated less obviously but has arguably not exceeded today’s performance.

5- However narrow the ultimate margin we were well worth the win. Leicester weren’t hugely impressive – although Kaspar Schmeichel perhaps deserves a little sympathy for a couple of terrific saves, not least the stop from Pudil prior to Forestieri’s tap-in – but it’s worth reflecting that at this early stage we have played the current top four and should probably have beaten all of them. The stated aim of consolidation this season, further communicated through this week’s professionally handled fans’ forum, is entirely sensible. But since the side settled down, we’ve not been bettered by anyone.