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02/03: Review:
"A mixed bag"
By Martin Patching
First published in the Hemel Hempstead Gazette, 09/10/02

A mixed bag this week, news, views, gossip and a couple of dates for your diary thrown in too.

Firstly Watford manager Ray Lewington was "pleased " with the 1-0 win over struggling Brighton. Heidar Helguson, with a third goal in as many games,earned the points.Ray went on to say "The main thing is we have won".

Certainly, I agree and this was a fixture The Hornets of last season would have drawn, or probably lost. Brighton gave their all, but it couldn't save the manager's job and Steve Coppell now takes over on the south-coast. Peter Reid is axed as Sunderland manager and for once, I find myself agreeing with Sir Alec Ferguson,"it is a sad day". Reid's achievements in his eight year reign are quite remarkable considering the plight the club were in when he joined. However as the winter months approach and pre-season optimism fades, the grim reaper hides behind many a manager's office door.

An interesting situation surrounds Grimsby's player-manager Paul Groves. Following last Saturday's home defeat to Reading, Groves tendered his resignation, only for the chairman to refuse it. A similar position is occuring at Hull City with Jan Molby's resignation also being turned down. It appears the managers of today cannot win which ever way they choose. The Mariners visit this week-end (Saturday 12th K.O 3.00PM). Town find themselves one off the bottom, desperate for points and as with Brighton last Saturday, the mental approach adopted by the Watford players will be as important as their performance itself. If fit, Groves will line up in central-defence, in front of Grimsbys impressive goalkeeper Danny Coyne. Coyne was instrumental in Grimsby staving off relegation last season and is attracting attention from Premiership scouts. It won't be a walk in the park. Town will defend and Watford manager Ray Lewington is forced to make changes. Helguson is on international duty, Micah Hyde (who was linked with a move to Manchester City in the sunday papers) and Paul Robinson are both suspended and Tommy Smith remains a doubtful starter. Adding all these ingredients together prove there are no easy fixtures in this division. Ipswich found out to their cost on Tuesday evening when Grimsby turned the form book upside down with a 3.0 win.

Forgotton man Stephen Hughes played for the reserves in Tuesday night's 0-0 draw with Spurs. Also, a rare appearance in goal for Espen Baardsen, who has until recently kept the bench-seat warm for the reserves! Paulo Vernazza and Richard Johnson played their part in a rousing team performance from Nigel Gibbs' men.

Winger Lee Cook got off to a flying start in his loan spell at York City, netting the only goal of the game as "The Minstermen" defeated Exeter, resulting in the dismissal of Exeter manager John Cornforth. Paul Gascoigne is now tipped to join Uri Geller in Devon, funny old world isn't it? Former Hornet Luther Blissett who is behind the scenes at York City, will return to Watford along with several squad members from the 1982-83 season, for the book launch of "From Team Sheets To Ticket Stubs" which is "a look back at the last 25 years of club history through an evocative mix of Watford memorabilia and archive photography." Amongst the dinosaurs due to appear at the signing will be Ian Bolton, Les Taylor,Steve Terry,Kenny Jackett,Steve Sims, myself and hopefully John Barnes. The diary date is Thursday 24th October 6.30PM at The World of Watford, Harlequin centre. Another date for the half-term holiday is Tuesday 22 October at 10.30 when Watford will hold an open day at Vicarage Road. Those attending will be able to watch the players go through a full training session on the pitch and be eligible to buy cut-price tickets for the Sheffield Wednesday home game, priced at 5.00 .There will also be an opportunity to meet the players and management staff personally.

News from Supporters Trust Fund Limited, I spoke to communications officer Peter Fincham who said "we have hit the ground running and have over 7.5 million shares, plus we have raised cash in excess of five figures in little over a week".

The trust would like to let supporters know that any monies raised through membership or donations will be kept in the trust fund until such time as sufficient capital is available to buy an elected supporter a seat on the Watford board.


In the charts:

football league division one
Scorers; Blissett(4) Callaghan(2) Jenkins(2)

Reproduced courtesy of Gazette Newspapers