Report by Dave Perahia
As I get older, certain things get more difficult. Christmas is one such
thing. Every year, the question "What would you like for Christmas?",
be it asked by my parents, girlfriend, sister, uncle etc., becomes
progressively more difficult to answer. But not this year. This year
it's easy - I want a pair of binoculars to take to Watford away games.
The trip to Southend was my third away game this season, following trips
to Luton and Grimsby. Each time I've screamed the boys to victory, and
each time I've seen bugger-all of the action. Of the eight goals scored
in those three games, seven have been tucked away at the opposite end of
the ground. I guess what I'm trying to say is, sorry if there isn't much
in the way of hard facts in this report, but most of the action was down
the other end and my eyesight ain't what it was.
Anyway, Sarfend on a Tuesday night. As I sat alone on the beach at 6-30
PM in pitch darkness eating my fish and chips, I did briefly wonder what
the hell I was doing in a near deserted seaside town in the freezing
cold on a weeknight. That question was answered over the next couple of
hours as the Hornets produced a magnificent display that sent the
considerable travelling contingent into raptures and increased the
pressure on the beleaguered Alvin Martin.
Roots Hall, the Southend ground, is awful. Think Luton, if you want a
comparison. A tight ground squeezed in between housing on all sides with
a patchwork of different stands of seemingly random design which appear
to have been added piecemeal over the years. And apart from the
travelling Horns, there was no-one there ! At one stage five to ten
minutes before kick-off, I honestly felt that the up to 1000 travelling
Hornets were in danger of out-numbering the home fans. A total
attendance of 4,001 showed I wasn't (too) far out. Hard times at
Our team had a solid feel to it. Gibbs in for Bazeley and Palmer for
Hyde. We started brightly, knocking the ball around nicely and avoiding
too many hoofed balls to Jason Lee. It soon became clear that we were a
class above a demoralised Southend side who misplaced far too many
passes and were beaten to every 50-50 ball by the confident and hungry
Hornets. Johnno and Palmer were bossing the midfield, and we looked
pretty comfortable. It took only 14 minutes for our supremacy to be
translated into a goal, the ball running across the box for Peter
Kennedy to drive a powerful shot along the floor just inside the
keeper's right hand post. Down the other end, naturally. But I did see
it go in. Sort of. The goal served to further sap the Southend morale
and boost ours. The first half was all Watford except for a mix-up between
Mooney and Chamberlain which almost let one of Southend's French imports
in for a goal. Alec held his hand up to acknowledge the mistake.
Our second was a beauty. Another surging Rosenthal run was cynically
stopped just outside the Southend box after 37 minutes and a free-kick
awarded. Kennedy strode up and stroked a perfect left foot shot into the
top right hand corner of the net (or top left, if you're the Southend
keeper) (Which I'm not, thank the Lord - Ed). It was an exact replica of the free-kick that he had bagged
home to Sheffield United in the cup, and sent the travelling fans wild.
Watford continued to press up until the interval but without further
Southend made a bit of a fight of it in the second half and managed a
lengthy period of sustained pressure. Although they came close on a
couple of occasions, I never really had the feeling they would score.
The Watford team seemed quite content to allow Southend a considerable
amount of possession but the defence, which was rock solid on the night,
seldom allowed them into dangerous areas. I had a sense that we were
almost toying with them, and this was confirmed when on 67 minutes, with
almost our first meaningful attack of the second half, we scored a
superb third. A long diagonal ball to the Watford left was expertly
headed towards the edge of the 'D' by Jason Lee. Rocket Ronny flicked
the ball with his head to Peter Kennedy on his right. Kennedy picked his
spot and powered his third goal of the night inside the left-hand post
via the fingertips of the despairing Southend keeper. Game over.
We could have had a few more, to be honest. A Tommy Mooney cross was
headed agonisingly wide by Rocket Ronny. Ron also shot over on a couple
of occasions and had a shot well saved. Jason Lee headed inches wide,
and Johnno fired a ferocious shot from the edge of the area just wide of
the right hand post. Southend might have sneaked one towards the end,
but it would have been little more than a consolation. Anything less
than a three goal margin would have failed to reflect the enormous gulf
between these sides. Watford left the field to a standing ovation, Peter
Kennedy clutching his match ball with delight. He may be a wing back,
but you'll not see a much better hat-trick from anyone anywhere this
Well worth a trip to Southend on a cold Tuesday night. And my fish was
The joys of a cold night in Southend
Report by Pete Fincham
Having arrived at the ground nice and early, around 6ish, after a two hour
wait on the glorious M25, I found myself in the local chippy chatting to
Mike Vince and Mark Devlin about the video, which was recorded yesterday,
the Z cars thing, that was recorded years ago, and how QPR are shit!
(Mark is a QPR fan).
Rupert turned up, touching me on the arse as he often does, along with
Rob. Rupert was wearing his blind as a bat Jarvis Cocker glasses and had
bought along a mini drum, in line with the current enthusiasm for making
noise (at last!).
We wandered around to the Golden Lion, which had been taken over by
Hornets and began to realise that there were no Southend fans, anywhere!
After a couple of songs and a swift pint, we descended on Roots Hall
where as usual the Stewards tried to pretend we would have to sit in our
designated seat! Yeah, right!
Inside, the cauldron of atmosphere was beginning to heat up as the teams
took to the field. But before we had settled into our seats, and
eventuality that never occurred throughout the whole game, Kennedy had done his
"I'll just pop up at the far post and score" routine with a well placed
shot that sent the traveling thousand or so Hornets into glorious
To say we outplayed the Shrimpers for the rest of the half is an
understatement. The fact is we pissed all over them, and when someone
(think it was either Ronny or Johnno - a case of down the other end of the
pitch syndrome) was hauled down about 20 yards out, a surreal atmosphere
overtook the away end. We knew he would score. In fact the only person
who seemed surprised by the goal was Kennedy. As the ball nestled into
the top right corner, the players of both sides just stood and watched in
appreciation of the master at work.
He, on the other hand, took off in the direction of the dugout to
congratulate the real master; the one master; the god that we call
Graham! About 5 minutes after the goal, we started to celebrate the fact, and by
that time it was nearly half time.
In true Hornet tradition, when playing towards the fans don't get
anywhere near them. Are we really that noisy that the game switches to
the other end from where we are? Maybe Utopia has arrived off the field,
as the atmosphere was truly wonderful; but we still need to see more
action down our end (except when the opposition is coming our way!)
Ronny (sorry Rupe - The Chosen One) and Jason both went close with headers
and Johnno's wild shots occasionally threatened to go near. But until
Kennedy grabbed his third, completing the first hat-trick of his career (and
I am sure the first by a defender in a long, long time) there was not
really much of a game to talk of. But as Lee and Ronny combined to set up
Kennedy for the goal, we all knew we were watching poetry in motion!
Kennedy smiled like I have never seen anyone smile before. A grin so wide
it was comical! And when he picked up the ball and saluted the fans, you
just knew he was a Hornet!
Did anything else happen? Well, we carried on singing until the end, and
then we went home (well, I went round to a friend's house in Chelmsford and
ended up giving her grandparents a lift home!). But I was full of the
joys of a cold night in Southend, and am gagging for the game against
Walsall on Saturday to show Gary, Gary Porter just what has happened to
the midfield since he left!