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02/03: Review:
"Quite a season for the ladies"
By Martin Patching
First published in the Hemel Hempstead Gazette, 22/05/03

Watford Ladies in its present form is a combination of Watford Ladies F.C and Watford Town Girls F.C and this merger has produced an outstanding opportunity for girls and ladies of all abilities. I had the pleasure of being invited to hand over the trophies at their recent awards night. Not too bad a life, is it?

It would be an understatement to say the club had been successful last season. They now have over 100 youth players and 35 senior ladies and are going from strength to strength. Formed in 1970 and, after much fund raising for kit and several name changes, by 1992 their membership stood at 30 girls. The club performed well in its formative years, which coincided with organised ladies league football, more recently great strides have been made, none more so than securing a base at the Sun Postal sports ground in Watford.

From the youngest team (under 10s) right up to the first team the enthusiasm was there for all to see as the squads received their honours. The under 10s won the treble, a Chairmans Cup, the League Cup and League title. The Under 11s carried off the Middlesex County Cup and finished runners-up in their league. At under 14 level, a Middlesex County Cup runners-up was earned.

Up to senior level and the reserves won the Greater London Womens League (Reserve) title in some style. It was the first team, managed by Darren Ward and Trevor Tarver, who swept all before them by winning The Herts County Cup, the South-East League Cup and the Combination League, elevating the team into the top flight. The Southern Division awaits next season and leading the first team will be skipper Vicky Cousbrook. The 23 year old, who is a forensic scientist off the pitch, only took up football at this level three years ago. Since joining Watford Vicky has helped the team fight off relegation, won County caps, picked up her manager's player of the year award and led the team to promotion.

It has been quite a season for the ladies, a great F.A Cup run saw Watford topple the mighty Liverpool before going out to Lincoln in the fifth round. On winning promotion Vicky told me, "It was more relief than anything because we needed three points and had five games to go but couldn't get a win." Looking ahead to next season in the top flight Vicky expects things to be "a lot more physical, quicker and more competitive, but we are really looking forward to it". Good luck to all connected for next season.

From the beauty to the beast, and a look at this Saturday's "Watford Testimonial Day" to be held at Vicarage Road . The doors open at noon where a steel band will entertain the crowd until Harchester United, captained by SKY'S Helen Chamberlain (no beast and well worth the admission price alone, I feel) will take on a celebrity eleven . Film star Vinnie Jones will assume his most difficult role so far, that of playing a footballer - only joking Vinnie, leave the two barrels at home! Former Berkhamstead Town player Bradley Walsh and a host of other stars from stage and screen including Tom Watt will no doubt produce a feast of football.

There is a "win a car" competition and more entertainment until the main game at 3.00PM which consists of an ex-Watford and ex-International X1 versus a Hertfordshire Select X1. The select X1, all of whom won the right to play via an auction and are to be managed by Nick Wright, have, I hear through the grapevine, had several training sessions and a warm up game which they won comfortably. It will be no push over for the likes of John Barnes, Steve Terry, Neil Price, John McClelland, Ronnie Rosenthal, Les Taylor, Dave Beasant, Paul Davis, Gibbsy, myself and the event organiser Luther Blissett.

Entrance is 10.00 for adults and 5.00 for children with all money going to the "Let's Buy Back The Vic" campaign.

Reproduced courtesy of Gazette Newspapers