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03/04: Review:
June 2003:
Friday night fads
By Mike Peter

Every so often there is a fad in Britain. I dislike the word "fad", mainly because it doesn't sound like a proper word, but also because when I hear it suggests my fellow citizens have fallen for yet another hopelessly boring or sad thing. In June 2003 the population of the UK fell in love with not one, but two.

The first is an annual thing. As I write this, Wimbledon is upon us and the country is in the grips of "Henmania". I really don't know why the British people only like tennis for two weeks a year. You don't hear complaints when we don't see the French, Australian or US Opens on TV. Yet for two weeks all people seem to be able to talk about is tennis. I do find it rather amusing how people pretend they know about tennis during in Wimbledon. You hear people say, "Oh yes, Roddick's slicing superb at the net" or "That Schrizchipan is a real goer, isn't he?" when it's patently obvious they have no idea what they're talking about. There should be some kind of explanation. I'd like to credit it to the end of the football season, that people need somewhere to vent their passion. But in reality the season has been over for a month and a half and I'm sure everyone's got over it by now. I suppose it says a lot about our country's love for the underdog. Something about the determination of Comeon Tim (it's virtually an honorific, isn't it?).

The second is a certain someone called Jon Tickle. Now, if you're not familiar with this lovely fella, allow me to fill you in. Jon Tickle is a housemate in Big Brother 4. He is basically, a geek (Don't you laugh at him! You're spending your precious time online reading this rubbish. You nerd!). But a lovable one. Jon has been the best part of any Big Brother to date. He's just so desperately dull, the sort of person you'd hate to live with. Which is why for three weeks running, despite being hated by the whole house, Jon avoided eviction. Honestly, it was incredible entertainment watching Jon's description of his "Timer toaster" almost kill the other housemates. It was a pleasure to view the other housemates try to hide their surprise that Jon had once again stayed in the house.

Now hold on, because I'm going to make my tenuous analogy. As we "young adults" gathered round the TV sets each Friday night, we all knew that Jon would never go. Yet we chattered excitedly about how "we really don't know who's going". And in that respect, the Big Brother fans were like Watford supporters over the month of June.

In mid-May there was a rumour that Bruce Dyer may be coming to the club. This was virtually confirmed by the fact that Glyn Hodges, ex-Hornet and Dyer's boss, said that Barnsley could not afford to keep him. Yet for the next month the mailing lists and message boards of the Watford Internet community were full of speculation about who our "mystery striker" was. But to be honest, when Ray Lewington confirmed Dyer's transfer nearly a month later, no-one was surprised.

Dyer's arrival has virtually confirmed the transfer of former hot prospect Tommy Smith. "Smudger" was dynamite at the end of the Premiership campaign and it was widely predicted that he would be a regular in the England Under-21s the following season. A few caps did come Tommy's way but to be honest he was never the same player. Much like Wayne Andrews and Gifton before him, Tommy was a shadow of his former self. How he differed from the others is that there was no awful injury to hamper his form.

Last season Tommy rarely led the line. Ray brought in a series of loan players to partner Heidar up front. When he did play, Tommy looked surly and bored. To make matters worse, he has still refused to sign a new contract. With Norville and Fitzgerald challenging Dyer and Helguson for first team berths, it's unlikely that Tommy will wear the famous yellow again. Even his occasional right wing position is set to be filled by the other new arrival, Jimmy Davis.

Davis' arrival is something of a mystery. It's not that Watford fans doubt his credentials; the three loan signings last season were fantastic. It's just that we know very little about him. Mind you, we knew little about Webber, and it's a little disappointing that it's Davis, not his colleague, that's going to be gracing the Vicarage Road turf. Davis may not be the best thing for Neal Ardley's career - he brings a reputation as a right sided forward. If Davis establishes himself on the right wing, then there's a good chance that Ardley, who made more appearances last term than any other player, may be cast aside with the right back position most likely being filled by Doyley or Gavin Mahon next season.

The only other significant piece of news this month is that Franchise FC has been rejected use of Vicarage Road next season. What can you say but: Ha! It says a lot about Koppel that he seriously thinks that he can groundshare at a stadium that already has two teams playing there. And what with Palarse doing the decent thing and rejecting them, we may find the Dons both groundless and cashless before the season even starts. Hurray!

In other footballing news (Hah! Huw Edwards eat you heart out!): As you've most definitely heard David Beckham has finally moved to Real Madrid. Thank God for that. Finally we can escape the constant media attention. Beckham sneezes! My goodness! This must mean he's going to Real! No longer will we see Beckham's demented lion hair flopping greasily on the front pages of the tabloids. It's time to celebrate! And while I'm "dissing" all things Beckham, how the hell did he get an MBE? Well, if Beckham deserves a MBE, expect Nigel Gibbs' confirmation as God to be announced very soon....

It would be wrong not to round up this month's events without sending my condolences to Marc Vivien Foe's family. It has been heartening to see football fans come together to grieve. It would be even better if they didn't have to come together in the first place...RIP.