From: Youth team
Career stats: Soccerbase
He is: Our Michael Owen
I sometimes wish I could buy Mark Main a drink more regularly. For the uninitiated, he runs a site that is just full of downloadable files of Watford action, and these are sometimes the only things that put a spark into the often depressingly familiar days of travel that I often endure. The crucial thing about the site is that, more often than not, only the Watford 'highlights' are uploaded. As such, on more than one occasion this season, games have been loaded with the comment "No highlights" appropriately attached. Those who went to the games knew where Mark was coming from....
But how does this relate to the rise and rise of Tommy Smith? In short, Watford's 'highlights' last season show just how valuable a player Tom has been to the team. It puts things into perspective - while Mooney has won all the headlines with his twenty-two goal season, a good proportion of the teams seventy plus league goals have been provided or scored by Smith. Even during the months of adversity at the end of 2000, and frankly woeful end of season performances in March and April, one of the few bright lights was our very own Number 17.
Tommy has often been accused by some of being too predictable. While it is clearly his preference to go outside the man at the expense of shooting himself, I do not feel it an inappropriate time to allude to Messrs Barnes and Callaghan, players often praised for their unselfish ability in doing the same during their time at Watford. For a guy who is allegedly shot shy, twelve goals was a fine return.
The hype that greeted Tom's arrival from the youth team in 1997 was well warranted, but maybe people expected too much too soon. An England cap at U18 level followed, alongside a certain Michael Owen, and while Owen went onto a World Cup and alleged million-a-year wage demands, maybe too many comparisons were made at too early an age. Fortunately, recent form has shown that Tommy's hype is not just hot air. While comparisons with Owen are a little inaccurate - not least because they are totally different players - in terms of value to Watford, Tommy is our Michael Owen.
One only hopes that the fears of the many will not be realised, and Tommy is not a commodity that is sold to make way for a less talented journeyman pro while there is still a transfer fee to be realised from his contract.
The views of the majority of internet voters during 2000/01 have suggested that Tommy Smith was indeed the real player of the season. While the official history of the club will show that Sir Tommy Mooney won the award, I feel compelled to voice my opinion that sentiment rather than an objective eye won that award for our payrise-seeking number nine! Having been rather a bit part player in Watford's success up until the final pre-season tour of Graham Taylor's hugely successful career, there is no doubt that Tommy Smith has finally come of age.
Last updated: May 2001