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Anthony McNamee
Position: Left Wing
From: Watford FC Academy
Career stats: Soccerbase
He is: A silver lining.


Anyone who continues to argue against the "unfairness" of the play-offs should be strapped securely to a chair and made to watch videos of the last six games of Watford's 2001-02 season. They should then have £100 removed from their wallets before being asked to reconsider. It's been dull. Depressing. Awful. But easy as it is to castigate the squad for a lack of professionalism at having thrown the towel in, you can sort of understand how it happens. And but for the distant prospect of sixth place for the optimistic amongst us to cling to, we'd have been playing games like this since Christmas.

There's been a bright spot, though. A bright spot that has twinkled defiantly, as if in determination to illuminate the largely grey mess that's been going on around him.

It started against Coventry in March. Marcus Gayle thumped in a header for 3-0, City's resolve was finally broken and all their defence hoped for was a quiet end to the game before slipping off home and putting their feet up in front of "Casualty".

Ha. Enter Anthony McNamee. Seventeen, allegedly, although his appearance makes you wonder how exactly the folk amongst us who have to apply age restrictions stay sane. He's no Dean Ashton, put it that way... we watched and waited for Richard Shaw to boot him into the stand.

Except it didn't happen quite like that. The forlorn City defence found this tiny kid dressed in a football shirt hurtling at them, past them, around them, through them. Leaving them staring at space with a trick-and-spin one minute, whipping instant, curling crosses onto strikers' heads the next. Wow.

Oakwell in the next game; and he's at it again, refusing to either be knocked over or to relinquish possession, scurrying back into space, regaining stature, slipping past two markers and slamming a shot in that the keeper pushed around the post.

We've been similarly enticed before, of course. Some tricky young wingers go on to great things (John Barnes); others don't develop at all (Bruce Dyer), head in a completely different direction (Darren Bazeley) or set off on a swivelling run and never come back (Rod Thomas).

McNamee's strength of character and the guidance that he receives will both play big parts in determining his development, but for the moment let's just sit back and watch... you'd have to be a joyless soul not to enjoy the Anthony McNamee of the moment.

Matt Rowson
Last updated: April 2002