Main Menu
What's New
98/99: Review:
By Ian Lay
Mainly wet with the odd outbreak of good football punctuated by heavy storms of piss poor football. That probably sums up January.

The slump has set in. We noticed aspects of it in December and now it's here with all the rage of a Don Fraser who's had his wheelchair and sticks nicked. We're talking serious problems.

But the one thing that is different about this side compared to the team under different managers is this. Even though the players know it's not going quite to plan (and that some of them are off form), they still keep plugging away to get something out of some of the games.

It started okay.... It finished very nicely indeed, thankyou.... It's just the crap in the middle that was hard to take.

Saturday 2nd January and it's FA Cup 3rd Round day. Spurs away and what a great day it was.

Okay, so no wonderful upset but we scared them a little.

We couldn't have asked for a better start. And here, unfortunately, is Ig to describe it (well, you didn't give me the pay rise so I'm buggered if I'm going to pay you any more compliments!):

"...and then Ben Iroha is carving through from the right wing and gliding past Sol Campbell into the area and you're roaring him on, affirming his ambition. And he drives it across and it's deflected up against the bar and Allan Smart's diving in and Richard Johnson's there to stab it home from three yards and it's there it's there IT'S THERE and your whole life explodes and the away section explodes with it and everything is noise and everything is screaming mayhem and everything is ecstasy..."

I don't think anyone could have believed it.

It didn't last long though and Spurs hit back though with three goals in fourteen minutes. But, hey, we'd still shocked them a bit and showed we could score against a Premiership side.

What's most annoying about all this is that after the first goal Hyde hit the bar. We could have been 2-0 up. 2-0 up against Spurs at White Hart Lane in under ten minutes of play.

I will always wonder how that game would have gone if we'd got that second goal.

But it wasn't to be and after fourteen minutes we were 3-1 down.

But we got back in it. 3-2 down and there is hope. Here's some more crap from Ig:

"Christ, what a match. You exhaust yourself, screaming and singing and jumping up and down and praying for a miracle. You may no longer believe, but you're sure as hell not going to let those eleven players on the pitch stop believing. Come on Watford, come on Watford, COME ON WATFORD. And then Allan Smart's laying the ball into Darren Bazeley's path and his raking cross finds Peter Kennedy at the far post and Walker can't stop the header and the 'Orns are back in the game and you take back everything you ever said about Darren Bazeley's crossing...."

But it didn't last long. 3-2 at half time and you are in with a chance. But they got another and it was 4-2.

The second half wasn't nearly as frantic as the first. We held our own for a long time and had chances. But in the end couldn't find a way through. Ruel Fox finished it all off in the 87th minute to leave it Spurs 5 Watford 2.

But we hadn't disgraced ourselves. And we'd had a lot of fun.

Portsmouth at home and the less said the better. We have problems with sides that come for the draw. We often don't know how to break them down. But we had chances - it's just we didn't take them.

One thing of note was that this marked the debut for Alexandre Bonnot, who replaced Allan Smart as part of a triple substitution.

Wolves away next and quite an enjoyable game that just needed some goals. Keane was always a threat for them and GNW was putting himself about up front for us.

In the end a point was a good result. The defence played very well. Consistency is the thing with them. Something we would see later in the season but at this time it was a case of "Good days, bad days".

Ironically WIFC drew with Wolves 0-0 in the morning in the Internet fixture. This was WIFC's first 0-0 draw and I believe also the first one in an Internet match. The pitch was awful, with big muddy puddles all over the place. Dr. Dave took five minutes before the start of the game working out where the best place to stand was in goal. Though despite the precarious nature of the conditions it was a most enjoyable match.

West Brom at home on the 23rd and a game, which to be honest, is best forgotten. WIFC had lost 3-2 in the morning to the WBA Internet side (a good game, but it rather set the tone for the day).

Ironically though the first 45 minutes were amazing football. We hit them with everything we had got but just couldn't get the ball in the back of the net. Tony Daley making his league debut for us was the main threat. Causing havoc wherever he went.

WBA scored against the run of play after fifteen minutes but that didn't stop us with Kennedy, Johnson, Daley and Smart going close but they found Whitehead in fine form in the West Brom goal. In fact if it weren't for him we'd have been comfortably ahead at half time.

The second half couldn't live up to the first. Well, it rarely does in these circumstances. They put more men on Daley, we brought on Ronny Rosenthal to replace Gifton. And although we had chances you felt we'd lost the chance in the first half. They scored again in the 90th minute to rub our noses in it. Oh, how different it could have been if we'd taken our first half chances.

The last game of the month was Sunderland at home and considering the form we'd been showing a good beating was probably in order. But that didn't materialise.

It was, without doubt, one of the games of the season. Sunderland suffered one of their rare defeats and we savoured a magically moment from Gifton Noel-Williams which I won't forget for many years to come.

We took the lead in the 18th minute through Nick Wright, who hadn't been playing that well recently. That idiot describes the events. Tight fisted git. GIVE ME A RAISE. This is two reviews in a seven days! What do you want? Blood? (Don't tempt me! - Ed)

"All warming up nicely, then. And, as it came to the boil, the Hornets scored a real beaut of a goal. Fine approach work gave Daley possession and we were treated to the sight of a Watford winger taking on and beating three opponents, getting to the line and pulling back a perfect cross. It came from another era, it really did. Nick Wright was waiting and didn't disappoint, glancing his header into the corner while Sorensen watched. Glorious."

How many times does he use the word glorious? Give me some cash! Now!

They got back in after 36 minutes. That tall lanky, but highly effective, Mr. Quinn. Chamberlain made a good save from Phillips at point blank range only for it to loop up right onto Quinn's head and he doesn't miss from five millimetres.

But we were not to be denied and the winner came from GNW in the 53rd minute with that goal.

Would someone else please write a few reports so I don't have to keep quoting this guy, please?

"The winning goal was quite stunning. Ben Iroha's long throw into the box was controlled on his chest by Gifton Noel-Williams. With his back to goal and a defender in close attention, we waited for the lay-off to a colleague. Instead, in a moment of absolute genius, he hooked the ball goalwards over his shoulder as it dropped. The element of surprise was enough - Sorensen could do nothing, watching in astonishment with the rest of us as it bounced inside his right hand post, and Gifton was away to the corner flag to celebrate. An improvised masterpiece. For a player who once looked so uncertain in front of goal, it was another huge sign of his coming of age."

The only downside of this day was that GNW was carried off injured not long after he'd scored. He was to play no further part in the campaign.

So a pretty weird month. Some great stuff, some lousy stuff. But it was noticeable that things weren't right and that GT not being fully back to his best wasn't helping.

Look, if you don't want to pay me then just send around a half a dozen eighteen-year-old blondes and brunettes and we'll call it quits. Okay?

Best moments: Sunderland at home was one game we'll always remember, I think. The first half against Spurs was magic as well.

Worst moments: Portsmouth at home for me. West Brom was bad but at least we threw everything at them in the first half.

Funniest moment: Johno performing "one of those" tackles on the ref against Sunderland.