By Ed Messenger
I have this friend who for the sake of anonymity I shall call Mr Smith. He was for many years a staunch Watford fan. You know, the sort that does Darlington away on a Tuesday night.
All of a sudden he became a Sheffield Wednesday supporter, the sort who has a little owl on the end of the light cord in his loo and won't eat a bacon sandwich 'cos the bacon is red and white stripes. He is also the sort of fanatic who wears his blue and white striped footy shirt to the pub but doesn't go and see his heroes when they play at Watford even though he lives within the said borough.
Anyway as this is my first attempt at a preview for this revered website, I enlisted his help with a review of their likely team:-
...So I've had a little dig around for myself instead.
The manager is Paul Sturrock, who was a great player in Scotland in his day. He played for and managed Dundee United and then took the plunge into proper football (i.e. in England) when he became manager of Plymouth, and very successfully too with promotion to the Championship (or Division 2, as is your bag!). He had a short unsuccessful stay at Southampton, where he was given little chance before getting the heave-ho. He then became Sheffield Wednesday's chief some fourteen months ago, charged with lifting them from the doldrums. The proverbial 'big club on tough times' got themselves promoted for this season via the play-offs.
A number of players have donned the shirts of both clubs ranging from the legendary Wilf Rostron to the less than legendary Patrick Blondeau and (always a favourite of mine, although past his best when he came to Watford) Garry Thompson.
The goalkeeper David Lucas is out with an injury and in his place is Nicky Weaver, borrowed from Manchester City. Indeed he has had a bad time with injuries himself over the years after being one of the "young hopefuls" in his junior days. At least we haven't got to put up with that rotund gentleman who has thwarted us more times than I care to think about.
Others well known to us are Chris Eagles, who was brilliant in the match up there but luckily a couple of moves ahead of the rest of his team, and Gabriel Agbonlahor, who so recently had a month with us. Eagles will surely play but Agbonlahor will probably warm the bench. John Hills, the regular full back, is unlikely to appear following a car accident, after which he is said to be very lucky to be alive. Mr Sturrock is pondering changes and loan signings so it would seem he has his back to the wall. He is frustrated with the lack of commitment, which he believes may be due to the injury list making it easier to get into the team. Hopefully, he will solve his problems but not till after Saturday! The result at home to Cardiff when they lost one-three will add further to his problems.
Regular full back who glories in the name of Paul Heckingbottom looks like figuring as does Chris Brunt, who scored their goal up there, and Richie Partridge, who had a superb effort saved at Cardiff. Drissa Diallo, the Mauritanian late of Ipswich and Burnley, could marshal the defence; although he hasn't figured recently, Mr Sturrock is, as I said before, considering making changes to bolster a dodgy defence. Burton O'Brien, the South African, appears in midfield after trolling round a few Scottish clubs since the mid-nineties. However, useful right back Frank Simek will not figure following his fifth booking at Cardiff.
The only other readily recognisable name is Rocastle. This is the nephew of the late David Rocastle of Arsenal fame, although he doesn't normally figure, only in cameos from the bench. As for the others, they have thirty players on the books but we all know whoever gets picked will play well above themselves as form points to an easy Watford win. Our results against lower clubs is certainly not brilliant, so be warned that they are the games we lose. Before I get accused of being negative... yeah, okay, I am being a bit negative, aren't I? All things being equal we could be in for another 3-1 win, let's hope so. I am currently working with a Hatter (nice lad, despite that!) and I do need to be able to go in on Monday morning and smile and say "Oh! Hard luck, old chap"....