Olympic Stadium To Wreck Football In The Community: Leyton Orient

Posted in Musings with tags , , , , on January 23, 2011 by Matt Churchill

As a Watford fan, I know how it feels to be close to losing your club. Just over a year a go Watford were very nearly liquidated.

So, I can appreciate the plight of Leyton Orient whose long term future is in doubt, threatened by the potential move of a footballing giant onto their doorstep.

The below post was originally written on Seldom Seen Kid, my professional blog, but I wanted to share it here too.

West Ham and Tottenham Hostpur are both vying for rights to take over the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, in a bid to preserve a lasting legacy for the games.

But, the movement of either club to East London would not only rip them from their heartlands, but also threaten the existence of London’s second oldest football club, Leyton Orient.

The club this morning released an empassioned statement calling for neither club to move to a venue that is around a mile from Brisbane Road.

Orient are a club whose voice has not been heard throughout this shambolic affair, deemed, probably, not large or wealthy enough to grace the corridors of power with their influence. The shifting of a large club on to the door step of a smaller one, may indeed lead to their extinction, and with it, an effervescent community club that treasures the people who live and breathe it.

I have experienced this first hand. For the last couple of years the Dale Jacobs Trophy has taken place close-season – a match that takes places at Brisbane Road in memory of an Orient fan who sadly lost his life to cancer.

The club allows use of the pitch and corporate facilities with a game between the supporters’ trust and fans the highlight of the day, often featuring ex-pros, kind enough to give up their time to get involved.

The club make little money from this, but give a little something back to their community with this gesture.

If this happens at larger clubs, i’m certainly not aware of it.

To disrupt a community like this is socially wreckless. That the government is complicit in the decision over who should take over the stadium after 2012, with their ‘big society’ posturing, is a damning indictment that shows no change: money still talks, no matter what the cause.

I am not a Leyton Orient fan, the better half is and alerted me to this morning’s statement, but I can see, especially given the MK Dons debacle, how reliant a community can be on it’s football club.

Leyton Orient already have a small catchment area in which to try and gain support, do not let that become even smaller by moving one of the giants of English football just around the corner.

In time, I guess we will find out if English football has a conscience, or if it’s just a game of pound signs and egos.

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Watford 3 Leicester City 3 19.09.09

Posted in Match Views with tags , , , , , on September 20, 2009 by Matt Churchill

Watford vs. Leicester City has been an encounter in the past which has seen great drama. The Foxes 1-0 victory on the last day of the season to send us down, Watford’s 1-0 victory when playing for 60 odd minutes with 10 men, and this game was no different.

Watford handed a debut to Manchester United loanee Craig Cathcart who replaced the impressive Dale Bennett in the centre of defence, but otherwise kept with the same line up that played Plymouth in midweek. The return of Watford legend Hediar Helguson was to keep us waiting, with Watford’s new number 11 starting on the bench..

Leicester began brightly, as did Watford, both sides knocking the ball around well in the middle of the park with little end product in the final third. It took until a dodgy handball in the Watford box from John Eustace for the deadlock to be broken, Matty Fryatt scoring a straight forward penalty to put the Horns 1-0 down..

Watford were quickly 2 behind after some sloppy defending gave Matty Fryatt another opportunity to hit the back of the net, he did, and the Foxes were almost out of sight.

They say football is a game of two halves, whoever they are, they were right this time. A dismal performance brought about the change the Watford faithful had been waiting for, the re-emergence of 32 year old Heidar Helguson in Watford shirt. Greeted by a raptuous welcome that sent tingles down the back of the neck, we had no idea what was to come.

Watford raced out of the blocks, taking Leicester on at full throttle and within 10 minutes Danny Graham sent the ball into the net – game on. Without enough to time to gain our collective breath, the ball was in the back of the net again, Helguson had scored on his second debut, the Rookery went wild, hell even the Rous managed to cheer a bit and break out into song. What a return, 2-2.

Yet there he was again, getting his body in where it had no right to be, H nicked his second of the game, a dream come true for many of us and surely now three points were in the bag. Sadly, it was not to be. Leicester had been out of it until that third goal, and then seemed to galvanise to score a goal at the start of added time to seal a entertaining and mesmerising draw.

Watford – An unbelievable game, 2-0 down to 3-2 up to 3-3. Great entertainment, a hero’s return for H. We showed real passion in the second half and that is a quality we’ve lacked at times over the last 18 months. This young side have potential to be a good team, if we can cut out the last minute goals. But, the day was all about the Iceman coming home, let’s hope he’ll be fit enough to start against Reading next week.

Leicester – The Foxes have had a great start to the season and Nigel Pearson’s got them playing some great football. Matty Fryatt is their obvious goal threat, with ex-L***n forward Steve Horward not really all there, and you wonder how they’d get on without him, ok I think. They’ll end up in mid table with us i’d imagine.

Watford 1 Barnsley 0 12.09.09

Posted in Match Views with tags , on September 14, 2009 by Matt Churchill

Watford vs. Barnsley had been touted as an early relegation 6 pointer by some in the press, with little hope given to the Hornets of avoiding the drop following the sale of Mike Williamson, Tommy Smith and Tamas Priskin. Given Barnsley’s perilous position coming into the game, they may well have been right.

Watford fielded a young line up which included a back four comprimised of four players who have come through the youth academy. Before kick off, nerves were jangling slightly more than usual as I pondered how Dale Bennett and Aidy Mariappa would cope with the size of the Tykes’ front line.

As the two teams strolled out into the Vicarage Road sunshine, side by side you could see quite clearly the physical threat the northerers would pose. What you wouldn’t have guessed would be the dirtiness of tackle and dissent they would go to show later on in the game.

Watford were passing neatly, with some great one-twos and in the first half deserved to be one or two nil up by the break, the young side showing confidence and an eagerness to get on the ball, pass it quickly and yet close down the Barnsley midfield quickly, giving them no space or time on the ball which on more than one occassion resulted in a lapse of concentration and panic.

Watford’s goal came eight minutes after half time with Danny Graham bagging yet another simple tap in after being in the right place at the right time – it appears he has a knack for this, an asset that could prove invaluable as we roll into the winter months. Dale Bennett and Lee Hodson looked good at the back with the former winning the majority of the high balls the Barnsley defence pumped up to Odejayi, and Hodson looking composed and a real contender to make the right back slot his own over the next few years.

Watford – A great result against another horrid team. The Hornets worked tirelessly and looked knackered in the last 20 minutes, allowing Barnsely to put us under real pressure. Despite this we were good value and on another day could have had a win sown up before half time. A cracking performance from the youngsters, if we can keep them fit and hungry, they could go onto to grow into a formidable team.

We must of course not get carried away.

Barnsley – Barnsely are bottom of the pile for a reason. No real attacking threat other than hitting up to their big men up front and no midfield, two problems we ourselves have faced over the last 12 months. The difference here is that Barnsley seem to have litle discipline. Mark Robins is going to have a big task on his hands making Barnsley a threat going forward. I forsee a lot of draw for the Tykes this season.

Watford 2 Blackpool 2 22.08.09

Posted in Match Views with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2009 by Matt Churchill

Watford vs. Blackpool has gained, this season, a little significance following recent events and may act as a benchmark for which way our season will be heading.

The corresponding tie last season was the final nail in the coffin of the Boothroyd regime. a 4-3 defeat after being 3-1 up to visiting Blackpool saw Aidy Boothroyd shuffle ignominiously out of the club, leaving us in turmoil and in a relgation fight, placed just 21st in the Championship.

This time, Watford have replaced Aidy, who is still without a job, and Brendan Rodgers, whose Reading side crashed 3-1 at home to in-form Sheffield United, with Malky Mackay – his job relatively secure at the moment, and a firm fan favourite.

A loss would represent no footsteps forward.

The matchday absence of Jobi McAnuff did cause a few eyebrows to be raised, particularly those at our glorious local paper, but it seems the under-performing winger was simply injured. Tommy Smith started, as did loanee Tom Cleverley and the now-not injured Don Cowie.

This was a glorious Championship game of football, two teams thrusting and counter-thrusting in an absorbing affair. Every time each team broke forward a goal looked imminent, the wood work, last-ditch defending, poor finishing and fine goalkeeping all playing a part in the final scoreline being just 2-2.

Blackpool had a right to be aggrieved at the allowance of the first Hornets goal, with a suspect looking foul taking place in the build up to Danny Graham’s sublime through-ball which smudge expertly despatched. The blackpool equaliser was just reward for a fine display, but some poor defending (again) was our downfall.

Watford’s second came from Man Utd loan star Tom Cleverley who pounced on an opportunity to slot past former Man Utd goalkeeper Paul Rachubka – scoring his second goal in two games. Cleverley looks quite the player, an attacking midfielder who looks as comfortable winning the ball in a tough 50-50 as he does taking players on in a driving run.

Blackpool equalised, with again some suspect defending, and the final few minutes played out with both teams trying to find an elusive winner. A golden chance came to on-loan Henri Lansbury, who proceeded to blast over with his 4th touch of the game from about 8 yards out with the goal gaping wide in front of him.

Watford – A fair result against a tough team who were dogged in their determination to add to their three draws so far this term. We looked dangerous going forward, but the back four are going to need to put in some extra work following the two goals against Forest in mid-week and the errors today.

Tom has proved his worth to us, yet again, and no doubt Brendan will be pestering the Reading board to raise more cash to take him down the M4. But then again, would you want to join a team down the bottom when you’re playing with a team (currently) in mid-table?!

A cracking game which could have gone either way, which leaves us with plenty of positives and a few things to be worked on. If we can play like this every week, we’ll pick up more points than we’ll drop.

Blackpool – I’ve always liked Ian Holloway’s sides, and this one will be no different. His energy and enthusiasm is pulsating through Blackpool, and with a little better finishing, this season they will easily avoid the drop.

Barnet 0 Watford 2 (aet) League Cup 11.08.09

Posted in Match Views with tags , , on August 11, 2009 by Matt Churchill

How the cup can be fateful – Watford played Barnet in the League Cup for the first time in ages, if not ever, in front of a passionate Barnet crowd, expectant of a famous victory of their more illustrious Hertfordshire rivals, Watford. It was however, not to be, as the Hornets ran out 2-0 victors in extra time.

Watford, playing a 4-4-1-1 formation again following the weekend’s draw with Donny, gave Richard Lee his first start in goal since September 2008, and saw John Eustace replace Ross Jenkins, away on England duty, in the middle. Young Lee Hodson started in the right back berth as Doyley moved to centre back to accommodate for Jay De Merit’s USA call up. This aside, Watford fielded their strongest eleven.

Barnet featured four former Horns, Paul Furlong, Albert Jarrett, Kenny Gillet and the mighty Micah Hyde. More on him later.

Watford were out battled and in some parts of the game, outplayed, as Barnet took the fight to their Championship opponents, and quite frankly played the better football. Stroking it around confidently before knocking it long, Barnet were assured in possession and it was against the run of play when Watford found the net, only for it to be ruled off side.

It took extra time for Watford to find the net again, with Mike Williamson leaping above his marker to head on from close range via a corner. In the dying second’s Scott Severin, who was patchy, got a late second as a long shot found its way through the Barnet keeper’s legs and rolled into the goal. It was more than Barnet deserved who also had a goal disallowed in extra time for a push on Richard Lee.

Nathan Ellington returned, playing about 50 minutes, and duly cramping up with minutes to spare. It is sad that a player essentially an outcast from the squad a few weeks ago, was our best player tonight – he is, and must, stake a claim for a regular spot in a bid to get himself bought.

Now, Micah Hyde, former Watford hero. Greted with the ‘he’s here, he’s there’ song before kick off, he received the same treatment after the final whistle and took the chant gracefully, taking his time to acknowledge the travelling supporters paying homage. A true Watford legend.

Watford – Not good enough. A ground out result that was fortunate rather than skillful. Hodson looked decent, if not nervous, young Brooks came on and played really well, watch out for him.

The big question is: can Malky leave Ellington out if he intends to play 4-4-2, if Nathan can get himself fit?

Barnet – Played really well, were unlucky in some respects, but they seemed to tire in extra time. They could do well this season if they can maintain the same intensity as they displayed tonight. A credit to League Two (as if we expected anything but)

Finally, a word must go to the crowd in the North terrace. Half Watford, half Barnet, songs were sung and banter thrown, the most pantomime-like atmosphere I’ve experienced at a match for a while (possibly due to the number of younger supporters) which made for compelling entertainment in itself. Watford fans probably edged it 4-3 due to the ‘sing when you’re winning’ chant appearing when we’d been singing all night.

Watford 1 Doncaster Rovers 1 08.08.09

Posted in Match Views with tags , , , , , on August 9, 2009 by Matt Churchill

Watford and Doncaster Rovers, two clasic names that you’ll rarely see on MOTD, played out a tough game in searing heat where a draw was an inevitable result.

Watford, playing a 4-4-1-1 gave debuts to Scott Severin and Danny Graham in a game that could have taken place at any time last season. For large periods in the game neither team dominated as the back to school atmosphere at the Vic quickly became morgue-like. A bouyant start saw the fans loud and proud, and even more so following Danny Graham’s debut goal – a proper poacher’s tap in. Already, the boy has a song, and may find himself quickly beoming a fan favourite.

Doncaster set themselves up to take a draw and executed their plan well. A cracking equaliser quickly silenced the home crowd who barely stirred for the following 60 minutes, who had been practising anti-Rodgers songs throughout the early tentative exchanges. The only other highlight was goal that wasn’t with Soctt Loach making a fine save from the floor to keep the ball from crossing the line in a goal mouth scramble in the firtst half.

Watford – A decent result against a finicky team who time wasted and made many dirty little tackles. Given the heat and pre-season turmoil, we came out more disappointed by a draw, but considering the other results, does nothing to help us work out what we’ve got in store this season. We’ll play better, we’ll play worse.

We can be pleased that Danny Graham got his goal, but McAnuff’s lack of effort will have done little to convince Watford supporters that he’snot after a move to Reading. He’ll need to start proving himself over the course of the next few weeks.

We are going to need another striker to support Danny, Tommy is much better suited to being out on the right, and Hoskins did little with the short amount of time he had on the pitch after replacing Jobi late in the second half.

Doncaster – Came for a draw, got one, and will be delighted. They looked good on the break but rubbish at the back and will find themselves struggling against the bigger boys in this division.

2009/2010 Prediction

Posted in Musings with tags , , , , , on August 7, 2009 by Matt Churchill

So, as the season approaches its first fledgling glimpses, fans all across the country will be hoping for a successful season. Here’s what I think the Championship will bring (I will no doubt be wrong).

Champions: West Brom

The Baggies have a lot of experience at this level and have managed to retain the vast majority of their Premiership squad, as well as bring in a manager who will be determined to play attractive attacking football, the same style that got them out of the division in the first place.

Runners Up: Swansea

This is a toughie, but I’ve got to say Swansea played the best football in the division last time round, and will be looking to do better this season with promotion to the top flight. I think they’ll be out muscled against the lower teams away from home and this will cost them points in the run in, but they’ll be mercurial at home.

Playoff Winners: Middlesborough

I fancy ‘Boro to do well this season and bounce straight back. I think at first they will struggle to get used to to the Championship but will get better as the season goes on and hit peak form when it matters most.

Bottom: Peterborough

I can’t see Peterborough coping with the skill required in the second tier. They’ll be tough to beat at home but tire easily and concede many late goals. I can see them really struggling away and picking up very few points on the road too. Doomed me thinks.

Second Bottom: Scunthorpe

I like Scunny. I like their approach and I like their team, but I don’t think they will cut it this time in the Championship. They’ll do better than Peterborough at home, but only just.

Third Bottom: Doncaster

Doncaster did very well last season, finishing in 14th, but there are stronger teams in the division, and I don’t think they’ll be able to pull it off again this season.

And what about Watford…

Here’s what I think we’ll do game by game this season – I’m going for W/D/L here…

Barnsley (H) W (A) D
Blackpool (H) D (A) D
Bristol City (H) W (A) L
Cardiff (H) D (A) L
Coventry (H) W (A) D
Crystal Palace (H) D (A) W
Derby (H) W (A) L
Doncaster (H) W (A) D
Ipswich (H) D (A) L
Leicester (H) W (A) D
Middlesbrough (H) W (A) L
Newcastle (H) D (A) L
Nottm Forest (H) W (A) L
Peterborough (H) W (A) W
Plymouth (H) W (A) L
Preston (H) D (A) L
QPR (H) W (A) L
Reading (H) D (A) L
Scunthorpe (H) W (A) D
Sheff Utd (H) L (A) D
Sheff Wed (H) W (A) L
Swansea (H) L (A) L
West Brom (H) L (A) D

Which would give us a total of 64 points which should put us in about 10th going by last season’s final league standings.

Let me know what you think!