From: Leeds United - £150,000 - August 2005
Career stats: Soccerbase
He is: Alright now.
It's not often that after just three (and a half) matches one can write anything substantial about a player but Matthew Spring is an exception.
We already knew about him, of course. His 250 plus appearances for Luton included that superb goal against us in the 1-2 League Cup defeat a few years ago. He looked good then and why shouldn't he? He made his debut at the tender age of seventeen, and even with a year of injury at Leeds following his free transfer there last year, he has managed two hundred and ninety starts and a further thirty-three as a substitute. A fair innings, as he's still shy of his twenty-sixth birthday.
His significant Luton past is certainly a talking point. He's no Kerry Dixon, whose adversarial history and sell-by date were all too apparent when we signed him, nor is he an Alec Chamberlain, whose Luton service was anonymous to Hornets and who was originally signed only as cover. Spring has some advantages: we know he's a good player, we needed to strengthen our midfield, he came via Leeds. The (very) early signs are that the Watford faithful are giving him a chance. Which he deserves and which seems to be a club feature, lately.
And he's impressed so far. A good range of passing, a hard work ethic and a tendency to put his foot in (picking-up two bookings already) have been easy on the eye. With two goals to his credit - the Derby goal was superb - we can be very pleased with our man so far. The consistency of his performances should be mentioned too, as he's justified his selection in each appearance.
What's more, the Mahon - Spring midfield axis is a mouth-watering pairing, possibly our most exciting and dynamic since the Johnson - Hyde partnership. So, yes, it's early. And, yes, it could all decline. But what a start. More of the same please Mr. Spring.
Now, what chance a 30 yard screamer against Luton? That really would be the icing on the cake.
A local Hertfordshire-born lad, Matthew Spring began his footballing life at a small-town club in one of the neighbouring counties. Pretty much ever-present in lower-league football from 1998-2003, his only taste of glamour during that time was ironically enough in a Worthless Cup tie against us. His solo run from the halfway line culminated in thirty-five-yard screamer past Sir Alec - arguably the most impressive goal a Division Three player has scored against us this side of the millennium.
Despite that flash of brilliance, Matthew remained marooned in the lower divisions and in early 2004 picked up an injury, which forced him to miss much of the rest of that season. But that turned out to be a something of a blessing in disguise since a prolonged spell of rest was just what he needed to reflect on how to break into the big time. And so it was that, being out of contract in summer 2004, Matthew took the first uncertain steps towards salvaging his career by signing on a Bosman for Leeds United.
Still troubled by injury, he made only eleven first-team appearances that season before finally joining the exodus of cheap talent from Leeds to Watford in summer 2005. A goal on his debut as substitute reassured those of us concerned about his lack of higher-division experience. As this was against Burnley, the fact that the opposition keeper was writhing in agony on the edge of the area only added to the jubilation. Nabbing the equaliser in a comeback win at Derby the following week added further to his standing, and complete salvation will surely follow if he can just reprise that Burnley goal against his former small-club employers.
Last updated: September 2005