Main Menu
What's New
Player of the Month

Pos Player Points
1 Gavin Mahon 269
2 Heidar Helguson 202
3 Lee Cook 196

What a season for Gavin Mahon. While not even those of us who defended him from his critics towards the end of last season could've seen it coming, it's just a triumph of self-belief, hard work, professionalism, doing the right things. No miracle, really. The player who started as a scapegoat and ended as a hero deserves all of the credit himself, and is finally getting it. Sometimes, the overall totals from monthly votes throw up very odd results, but there's no arguing this time. "Player of the Season", by any criteria.

It's been a more mixed year for Heidar Helguson, missing for patches through injury and (largely self-inflicted) suspension. But, particularly after the departure of Paul Robinson, he remains the supporters' champion, the player who'll always try to translate our feelings into deeds...even if that's not necessarily a good idea. Perhaps in different circumstances, with more dependable supply and more consistent performances from his partners, this would've been Heidar's defining year. Then again, perhaps that astonishing ninety minutes against Chelsea was enough to be going on with in the meantime.

For Lee Cook, a mixed year too. A somewhat controversial figure, his numerous admirers have rarely agreed with a manager who's used him sparingly, and mainly at Vicarage Road. But he ends the season as a far better, more complete, more imposing player than he began it, capable of being absolutely breathtaking and much less likely to cancel out those moments of magic with a very ordinary lapse of concentration. He's special, is Lee Cook. But 2003/04, and particularly the latter part of it, has seen him making it count.

And two honourable mentions too. For Scott Fitzgerald, edged out of third place by just eight votes after Cook's late surge, who should surely be very proud indeed of his first full season in professional football, and damn eager to continue his extraordinary progress. And for Paul Devlin too, a regular feature of these awards due to a band of loyal devotees, and the only other player to make it into three figures overall.


Pos Player Votes
1 Lee Cook 61
2 Bruce Dyer 42
3 Alec Chamberlain 36

The rest:
4: Gavin Mahon; 5: Micah Hyde; 6: Sean Dyche; 7: Heidar Helguson; 8=: Chris Baird, Lloyd Doyley; 10: Paul Mayo
Also votes for:
Paul Furlong, Xavier Gravelaine, Willie Falconer, "The whole team for surviving relegation", "Ray (for keeping Sean!)" (aw), "Not Gavin Mahon - he's crap. Deserves to have his contract cancelled and be sent back to Brentford (what do u mean he's good now?)", "Pope Pius III - arguably the most underrated of all the 15th Century popes" (well, quite)
Votes cast:

One last "Player of the Month" award for Lee Cook, or just another to add to a list that'll grow still further in the future? Time will tell, but anyone who saw him play during April and May will be desperately wishing that it's the latter. Here, at last, we saw Lee Cook fulfilling his true, massive potential. The headlines were his, courtesy of a couple of absolutely wonderful and vital goals at Burnley and Millwall...but, perhaps more significantly, much of the copy was his too, for performances that saw him reinforce his obvious talent with hard work and awareness. Put simply, it'd be a bloody shame if he left now. For him too, in my humble opinion.

In second, a rather less familiar name in this context. Prior to this vote, Bruce Dyer had picked up just three votes in the entire season, reflecting form that dipped, struggled, dipped again, and never approached what we'd expected back in August. At last, then, a glimpse of the real Bruce Dyer, of a player who can be a handful for defences as well as a positive influence for the rest of his own team. And a real cause for optimism during the summer....

And finally, Alec Chamberlain. It would be tempting to suggest that many of these votes came from sentiment, as the keeper said his farewells after the Reading game before an unexpected contract offer promised to extend his Watford career by another year. Tempting, but probably wrong. In truth, his near-departure simply made us remember that we can't take him for granted, and his performances during April and May served to sharpen that realisation. When we needed him, he was there yet again...and, while turning a seven or eight-nil defeat into a four-nil defeat (and nearly a two-nil defeat) won't rank among his greatest achievements, that display at West Ham really was quite something.


Pos Player Votes
1 Gavin Mahon 65
2 Sean Dyche 25
3 Heidar Helguson 15

The rest:
4: Lee Cook; 5: Paul Mayo; 6=: Alec Chamberlain, Micah Hyde; 8=: Paul Devlin, Scott Fitzgerald; 10: Lenny Pidgeley; 11=: Neal Ardley, Chris Baird, Bruce Dyer, Jamie Hand, Jerel Ifil
Also votes for:
None (x3), "None - could a team ever be more unloveable?" (you've got a very short memory, Rupe...), Alan Devonshire, Jan Lohman, Steve Harmison, "Lenny Pidgeley's right boot", "Bring back Mooney!! I miss you", "Kenny Jackett - Super Swan", "Anchovy - the hidden ingredient in so many Mediterranean dishes"
Votes cast:

Gavin Mahon again, then. Player of the season. The number's 09010 199212. Do the right thing, eh?

Moving on, Sean Dyche's remarkable revival continues, and he finds himself in the top three for the first time in his Watford career. Although his future remains uncertain, his defending has been anything but - an increasingly confident and dominant figure, it's extraordinary to think that a series of distinctly flat-footed performances had shoved him far from the first team frame not so very long ago. Whether he stays or goes, we've seen the player that we signed, at last.

In third, narrowly ahead of Lee Cook and Paul Mayo, Heidar Helguson has found the goal-scoring knack again after returning from suspension. The team found the net just five times during an often unhappy and occasionally rather fraught month, and the Icelander scored three of those goals, including vital strikes against Derby and Wigan.


Pos Player Votes
1 Lee Cook 50
2 Gavin Mahon 35
3 Paul Devlin 23

The rest:
4: Jerel Ifil; 5: Sean Dyche; 6=: Micah Hyde, Lenny Pidgeley; 8=: Scott Fitzgerald, Jack Smith; 10: Neal Ardley; 11=: Hameur Bouazza, Bruce Dyer
Also votes for:
"Can't single anyone out, the whole team" (which is something of a change from the twelve votes for "nobody" last month), "The computer who (sic) made the February fixture list", "Baby Ibrahim - who arrived Feb 6th", Alex Bonnot, Gifton Noel-Williams, Hather, Liburd Henry
Votes cast:

Thank gawd for that, frankly. An unbeaten February to follow a very beaten January, with the inevitable increase in votes and general enthusiasm. Not a single vote for "nobody", for a start....

And lots of votes for Lee Cook, one of several stars of this mini-revival after his manager shunted him forward to play as part of the front three during Heidar Helguson's suspension. It's suited him, giving him much greater freedom to flit around into spaces and, indeed, to track back without necessarily having to track back. A couple of goals too, even if one of them was grotesquely deflected, and an eye-catching, match-winning contribution to the otherwise rather limp victory over Franchise FC. Keep it up, young man.

Somewhat in contrast, a clear second place is occupied by that model of quiet consistency, Gavin Mahon. It's hard to find new things to say about the midfielder, simply because his performance varies so little from week to week. Instead, it's just a regular, steady trawl through the various assets required for the role, from beefy tackling to endless ground coverage to intelligent passing to the occasional foray into the opposition penalty area. Perhaps one of those fiercely-struck drives will whistle in some day, just for novelty value. Whatever, there are no other candidates for "Player of the Season", to my mind.

For all that the cult following commanded by Paul Devlin's energetic, committed performances has pushed him into third place, we'll force him to share that honour with those just - and it really was just - below him. For Jerel Ifil (22 votes) and Sean Dyche (21 votes) would otherwise be well justified in feeling hard done by, given that much of the month's success was down to our sudden ability to stop the opposition from scoring. We didn't stop them from scoring by much on occasions, sure...but that was lots better than not stopping them from scoring at all. Or helping them to score.

Finally, it's worth highlighting the frantic push-and-shove going on in the race for first place in the overall totals, with Scott Fitzgerald, Heidar Helguson and Gavin Mahon separated by virtually nothing. All to play for.


Pos Player Votes
1 Gavin Mahon 47
2 Heidar Helguson 31
3 Jack Smith 30

The rest:
4: Scott Fitzgerald; 5: Paul Devlin; 6: Sean Dyche; 7=: Lee Cook, Jamie Hand; 9=: Neal Ardley, Hameur Bouazza, Alec Chamberlain, Neil Cox, Micah Hyde, Jerel Ifil
Also votes for (deep breath):
"None of them" and variations thereon (x 12), "The linesman against Chelsea" (x 3), "Umin Wehadone?" (don't ask us!), "A tin of baked beans", "Chelsea (for the extra tickets)", "All the Watford fans who stayed til the final whistle against Palarse", "Dave Cuthbert for going up to Birmingham on the 31st on my eighteenth birthday" (from Dave Cuthbert, natch), "Graham Simpson- who's been having a mare of late", Harold Shipman, "Hutton Whitewashed my house", "John Lydon (the only thing to have made me smile after recent results)", Rosa Luxemburg, "The lead singer from Athlete", "Myself - as being at university prevented me from seeing the crap that resulted from this month's matches", the Russo Brothers, Allan Nielsen, Dominic Ludden
Votes cast:

Least said, soonest mended...?


Pos Player Votes
1 Heidar Helguson 83
2 Paul Devlin 34
3 Lee Cook 27

The rest:
4: Jack Smith; 5: Marcus Gayle; 6: Lenny Pidgeley; 7=: Neil Cox, Gavin Mahon; 9: Scott Fitzgerald; 10: Alec Chamberlain; 11=: Neal Ardley, Lloyd Doyley, Paolo Vernazza
Also votes for:
Dean Lewington, Gifton Noel-Williams, Derek Payne, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Oliver Tobias, "Whoever drew us to play Chelsea in the cup", "The brave few who went down to Gillingham"
Votes cast:

Look who's back. In truth, the December vote was probably a foregone conclusion from the moment that Heidar Helguson took the field against Nottingham Forest at the start of the month. It was never likely to be a particularly restrained return, after all. To seal the deal, the increasingly iconic forward went on to score a few vital goals, to throw himself around as if he'd never felt pain in his entire life, and to avoid being sent off despite committing at least one ferocious foul in each game. Absolutely inspiring stuff, and long may he stampede around the Vicarage Road turf. (Sorry, mud.)

In second and third, two wingers, perhaps reflecting the desire of fans to see a return to straightforward 4-4-2, a desire eventually satisfied and rewarded with 2003's last fixture. Paul Devlin continues to build something of a personal fan club, and you suspect that he'll be appearing in the top three or so for as long as he's here. Not his best month, perhaps, as teams have tended to assign two players to looking after him...but still, a continuing source of creativity, ambition, and plain old up-and-at-'em spirit.

Finally, Lee Cook played only a sporadic role in proceedings, but his part in the crucial victory over Cardiff deserved to win him a few extra votes. He seems perpetually on the verge of getting his chance to be more than just a regular substitute/substitutee, something that many fans have been demanding for some time. It'll be interesting to see whether he takes it, and where he ends up in January's poll.

And one honourable mention too, for Jack Smith, whose performances, especially at Sheffield United, surely warranted better than fourth place. An impressively tenacious little player, his time will no doubt come.


Pos Player Votes
1 Neil Cox 52
2 Lenny Pidgeley 40
3 Paul Devlin 38

The rest:
4: Scott Fitzgerald; 5: Lee Cook; 6: Marcus Gayle; 7: Paolo Vernazza; 8: Jack Smith; 9: Danny Webber
Also votes for:
"The Stop Bush Coalition", "W4BS (for not scoring)", Carl Leaburn, "Chipmunks - fascinating creatures", "Hanna for coming to games despite being very heavily pregnant, baby due Dec 8th !" (Well? - Ed), Steve Bennett (Norwich referee)
Votes cast:

A familiar name. But not that familiar, not recently. Neil Cox, overall runner-up in last season's poll, hasn't been here so far in this campaign...which tells several stories, really. But he's back, leading November's poll from start to finish after some vintage, comic book hero performances alongside the similarly-resurrected Marcus Gayle. Indeed, his insane diving header around the post in the second half at Reading - which would've been a decent enough save by someone with hands - probably goes down as BSaD's Moment of the Month. Even if Lenny Pidgeley probably would've saved it anyway.

Speaking of Lenny Pidgeley, the on-loan keeper moves up from fourth in the October poll to second in this...which, even allowing for the fact that he hasn't been entirely blameless on a couple of occasions during the month, speaks volumes about his increasing confidence, presence and other -ence words. The effect on Cox and Gayle has been marked, their effect on Pidgeley has been just as significant...and that's exactly as it should be. And he's made some very fine saves along the way too, of course, particularly in securing valuable points on the road.

In third, Paul Devlin and his box-of-tricks are rapidly picking up a significant and devoted following at Vicarage Road. For all that his creativity and verve have been incredibly valuable, it's the personality that he's brought to the attack that's been most joyous, particularly in the absence of Heidar Helguson. Fun to watch, above all else. And not much fun to play against, you'd imagine.

These are the top three, but others - Scott Fitzgerald (21 votes, another with an increasingly devoted following), Lee Cook (19, following his first two goals), Marcus Gayle (in Neil Cox's shadow with 12, but a significant improvement nonetheless) - also managed very respectable totals. Which is a good sign, surely. A sign of a general trend, somewhat overdue but not yet too late.


Pos Player Votes
1 Scott Fitzgerald 65
2 Paul Devlin 60
3 Paolo Vernazza 45

The rest:
4: Lenny Pidgeley; 5=: Paul Robinson, Danny Webber; 7=: Neal Ardley, Lee Cook, Richard Johnson; 10=: Bruce Dyer, Marcus Gayle, Stephen Kelly, Jack Smith, Ashley Young
Also votes for:
Radagast the Brown, "Some sort of Frankenstein's monster made up of Cox, Devlin, Fitzgerald, Pidgeley and Vernazza...", AFC Wimbledon team and fans, Carl Leaburn (eh?)
Votes cast:

Ah, that's more like it. Much more like it. A month in which the Hornets, still a little hesitant and nervous, began to pick up points and slowly climb the table, with a consequent increase in "Player of the Month" votes...and a significant decrease in the number of "comedy" nominations....

And it's Scott Fitzgerald again. Something of a fairytale for our goal-hanger supreme, winner of the September award and scorer of another three goals during October, all of them from well inside the six yard box. The exciting thing for Watford fans is that just as Andy Hessenthaler relied on his work-rate as he made the adjustment from non-league, so Fitzgerald's poaching is buying him time to build the rest of his game. There's a great deal more to come, you suspect....

In second, Paul Devlin is now showing us what he's all about. Match fit, he's full of energy, ideas, intelligence, playing with feet and brain. While he's only found the net once thus far, he's made a significant difference to our goal potential, and the growing understanding with the other strikers is bringing us much closer to where we hoped that we'd be.

Oh, and mustn't forget Paolo Vernazza either. Perhaps unfortunate to be third, the midfielder has unexpectedly recaptured his finest form since his arrival at the club, just as many - myself included - were ready to write him off. Always creative and clever, he seems to have a real appetite for work and responsibility at present, becoming a committed presence rather than a talented bystander. Long may that continue.


Pos Player Votes
1 Scott Fitzgerald 81
2 Gavin Mahon 21
3 Lee Cook 16

The rest:
4: Neil Cox; 5=: Lloyd Doyley, Richard Johnson, Paul Robinson, Paolo Vernazza, Ashley Young; 10: Paul Devlin; 11=: Neal Ardley, Jerel Ifil
Also votes for:
None, "A.N.Other", "Nobody again - even more of a disgrace than August" (hi, Rupe), Steve Sherwood, "Accommodation", "Gary Penrice's moustache", "Ruud van Noddlehorse", "Hang on in there, Ray", "That thuggish Milwall player for giving us our 1st win", and "The bloke on the Banbury to Birmingham train who gave us complimentary first class tickets for the Wigan away day as a result of the trains f***ing up at Euston!"
Votes cast:

A curious month, from the voting point of view...and a fairly appalling one, from every other point of view. In the end, Scott Fitzgerald easily wins his second "Player of the Month" award, following on from his victory at the end of last season. An obvious choice and a deserved accolade, for the former Northwood man has been an extraordinarily positive and aggressive presence amid some increasingly desperate performances. And he's scored a couple of predatory goals too, which is what he's there for...and what, on the evidence so far, he'll be doing for the rest of his career.

The rest really depends on timing as much as anything else. Had the voting taken place a couple of weeks earlier, then you'd have expected Ashley Young - scorer of two goals in his first two appearances - and Paul Devlin - a new signing making an impact - to have featured much more heavily. Now, we find Paolo Vernazza - newly recalled and impressing, despite a harsh red card - and Richard Johnson - for understandably sentimental reasons as he leaves the club after twelve years - appearing among the runners-up.

All of which leaves another three players to contest the remaining two podium places. Last month's winner, Gavin Mahon had a less spectacular September, yet continued to fight for everything that could be fought for, a quality that does him great credit. Lee Cook, in third, is a very different kind of player and has spent much of the month shouldering the entire attacking burden in the absence of significant contributions from elsewhere. Finally, and just one vote behind Cook, Neil Cox has captained a side - not always with success, but always with considerable commitment - that has badly needed direction from within.

Not an easy month. Not an easy season, so far. And onwards to October, to see what it brings....


Pos Player Votes
1 Gavin Mahon 71
2 Heidar Helguson 68
3 Lloyd Doyley 9

The rest:
4=: Lee Cook, Danny Webber; 6: Scott Fitzgerald; 7: Paul Robinson; 8=: Neal Ardley, Marcus Gayle
Also votes for:
Jimmy Davis, Gifton Noel-Williams, Tommy Mooney, Stephen Glass, Allan Nielsen, Cliff Holton, "Vialli (for not taking it to court)", "None - disgraceful start to the season" (thanks, Rupe)
Votes cast:

Crikey, that was close. Throughout a week of voting, it's been pretty much impossible to pick a winner, although Gavin Mahon has just about held onto a slender, slender lead. And deservedly so, in your correspondent's opinion, as the midfielder has returned to his natural position and emphatically answered his numerous critics. Hard to believe, perhaps, but not at all hard to appreciate, for these have been performances full of tenacity and bite, whether controlling the midfield or denying that same control to the opposition. Well played, sir.

Just three votes behind in second, a much more familiar name round these parts. Heidar Helguson has attacked the season in much the same way as he seems to attack everything else. Despite being asked to play on the left of midfield, he's given absolutely everything to the role, and was ultimately rewarded with a recall to the forward line and the club's first league goal of the campaign.

A long way behind, Lloyd Doyley sneaks ahead of Lee Cook and Danny Webber to grab the final spot on the podium, courtesy of some characteristically determined and capable defensive performances. A player who'll need to move forward (literally) to retain his place, perhaps, but also a player with much to base that development upon.

Really, though, August 2003 will be remembered for the first name in the list of alternative votes. We can only wonder how many times Jimmy Davis' name would've come up on this page over the coming months, and we can only contine to keep him and those closest to him in our thoughts. Here's to a much happier September.