Sunday, 21 October 2007


The Hull game, though generally short on interest, saw an early contender for the alternative end of season awards, in the ‘Most Sarcastic Gesture by a Watford Player’ category: Darius Henderson’s reaction to finally being given the benefit of the doubt, a clenched-hands, eyes-raised-towards-the-heavens pantomime that clearly translated as “Thank you o lord for this benison you have bestowed upon your righteous servant.”

I told you it was sarcastic. A more intelligent referee would probably have booked him for it.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Just once, oh lord…

I know it’s going to look as if I’m obsessed with Lloyd Doyley, but the excellent interview with Jordan Stewart on the official website does highlight once again the remarkable fact that Lloyd has never scored a goal for Watford at any level. Surely this calls for some targeted chanting on Saturday: “Doyley, give us a goal”, perhaps, coupled with a lustily bellowed “Shooooot!” every time he gets within 20 yards of the Hull penalty area.

Lloyd’s predicament reminds me in a roundabout way of my own experiences of playing rugby at school. I was overweight, unfit and uninterested, so it’s not particularly surprising that I managed to get through four winters of weekly games lessons without ever scoring a try. Like the other fat kids, I was always forced to play as a forward, so I spent every game trudging from scrum to lineout to scrum, watching from a distance as slimmer, faster boys scored all the tries.

Still, even though I was aware of my limitations, I did have a slender competitive streak, and in my final term of playing rugby (the point at which the school finally accepted that any dormant stars must have revealed themselves by now, and allowed us duffers to go off and play other sports instead) I started mentioning to anyone who would listen that it might be nice if I scored a try before ‘retiring’.

Nothing came of it for a few weeks, apart from one tantalising opportunity when I managed to grab a loose ball a few yards from the line, only for some obstinate bastard on the opposing team to put his body in between me and the ground, making it impossible for me to touch down. Then, one week, we were playing one of those games that occasionally happened when one team proved far superior to the other - and I was on it. We were already about 60 points up when a teammate intercepted a pass and hared towards the try line. I was jogging in the same direction, just for form’s sake, when I realised that he was calling to me and suddenly understood what he intended. So I picked up speed, took the ball he handed me (he didn’t bother throwing me a proper pass – I’d only have dropped it if he had) and launched myself spectacularly over the line for my first (and last) try. Seconds later I was being mobbed by my teammates, and I can honestly say it was one of the most joyful moments of my sporting career. (Not that there’s much competition, mind you.)

So what point am I trying to make? Well, Darius, Marlon: if you’re reading this, and if at any point this season you find yourself with the ball at your feet and an open goal in front of you, just before you boot it in, have a quick look around and see if Lloyd is anywhere nearby. You know he needs it more than you do.