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02/03: Review:
"A rich seam of talent"
By Martin Patching
First published in the Hemel Hempstead Gazette, 01/05/03

Watford reserves are ninety minutes and one victory away from clinching the Barclaycard Premiership Reserve League ( South ) title after a Jamie Collins penalty claimed a 1-0 win over Southampton on Tuesday night. The win puts Nigel Gibbs' team top of the table with one game left to play - a home game against West Ham which will be played on Wednesday (7.30pm). The win summed up everything that has been apparent this season, work-rate and commitment enabling the players' potential to shine through. This was a very young, home grown team - 10 of the starting line up against The Saints have progressed through Watford's Academy system, with only Scott Fitzgerald signed from outside. Scott has already seen first team action following his recent trancition from non-league football.

Marcus Gayle was crowned Watford's player of the season at the club's annual awards dinner on Sunday night. The Jamaican international's form has been outstanding. Heidar Helguson finished in second place and club captain Neil Cox third. Marcus said, "To do it at the end of a season which has seen such a big change in position for me is particularly suprising, but I have to pass a lot of the credit to the other players. They have made things so much easier for me".

Alec Chamberlain was given a "Special Lifetime Achievement Award", the consistent goalkeeper having made his 750th career appearance in the F.A Cup Semi-Final against Southampton. Stephen Glass will leave the club this summer, he takes with him the fans award for goal of the season for that tremendous free-kick in the F.A Cup Quarter-Final against Burnley.

I caught up with the aimiable Danny Webber, who was present to receive the" Display of The Season" award for his part in the 5-2 defeat over Coventry City earlier in the campaign. Danny told me his recovery from a broken leg, sustanded in a Mancherster United reserve game, was going well and a wry smile appeared on his face when I told him he was on almost every fan's wish list for next season.

Tom Smith, Helguson and Danny Webber in a 4-3-3 looks good to me . Should Tom decide to seek pastures new and Webber stays with United, then former Watford goalscorer Luther Blissett certainly looked fit enough to resume the mantle as he danced the night away. Luther was present to receive a long overdue award for his services to Watford F.C and was the first player to be installed into "The Watford Hall of Fame". Luther has arranged a Watford testimonial day which takes place on May 24th at Vicarage Road.

Jamie Hand was voted "Young Player of the Year" and in a rousing speech Watford chairman Graham Simpson urged the young players to take the club forward on the pitch. "It is now your time," the Chairman said. Graham has vision and confidence and I also feel there is a rich seam of talent emerging from the Academy which was set up by Graham Taylor. If it continues to be harnessed correctly and with patience from the supporters, the Hornets may emerge in a season or two as a force in Division One. After all, it has taken Nottingham Forest several seasons of hard work with young players to turn around the club's fortunes. Forest may not be the bookies' favourites to gain promotion via the play-offs, but they are mine.


In the charts:
Let's Dance by David Bowie

Football League Division One
Ipswich Town 3 Watford 1
Team: Sherwood. Rice, Sims, Jackett, Rostron. Callaghan, Jobson, Lohman, Sterling. Barnes, Blissett.
Sub: Armstrong
Scorer: Rostron
Att: 19,921

Reproduced courtesy of Gazette Newspapers