Position: Left back / left winger
From: Franchise FC - free transfer - July 2004
Record: Played: 34(1) Scored: 0
To: Cardiff City - free transfer - July 2005
Career stats: Soccerbase
He was: Never right for the job
Summer 2004, and with midfielders Brynjar Gunnarsson and Andy Ferrell on board, Ray Lewington looked to address a problem at full-back with his third summer signing. The signing was one which confused Watford fans - an ageing full back, Jermaine Darlington, was brought in. Many questioned his value, and perhaps rightly so, as it was always James Chambers who we really wanted and many felt we should have held out longer rather than rushing into the signing of Darlington.
Competition among the number of full-backs recruited by Lewington - almost a nervous tick, the tendency to look for another wide option when things weren't going well - meant that his opportunities were somewhat restricted. A more sprightly player than his years suggested - it will be some time yet before the word "veteran" will precede his name - his offensive contributions, full of quick and intricate runs that tended to threaten more than they produced but still threatened quite a lot, were certainly more memorable than his slightly nervous defensive game. A tendency to attempt to get ahead of an opponent to make an interception, thereby risking said opponent turning and legging it into the distance, caused particular palpitations on occasion.
However, in a season where a relegation battle, managerial changes and rumours over the future of a certain Icelandic striker were at the forefront of the news, Darlington managed to make his mark on perhaps the two biggest games. As the only man to play all seven games of our League Cup run, Darlington impressed the most in the two legged semi-final. Lining up against the future European Champions was never going to be easy - especially travelling to Anfield for the first leg - but Darlington played against them with the kind of disrespect usually only present in teenagers. On several occasions, he picked up the pace and careered through the Liverpool back-line before looking to create chances. The same could be said of the return leg at Vicarage Road. Although sadly the results didn't go in our favour, these two games had certainly helped change many people's opinions of JD - including my own.
Twelve months as a Hornet effectively came to an end halfway through a miserable afternoon at Loftus Road, when he was comprehensively embarrassed by Gareth Ainsworth...and, in truth, by himself. In stand-up comedy terms, he died on his arse. He didn't re-appear for the second half, and made only one further appearance in a Watford shirt. That was that: he followed Neil Cox to Cardiff in the summer, joining Terry Burton and Neal Ardley at the Bluebirds.
It was by no means the best twelve months that anyone's contributed to Watford, but it was far from the worst. He won't be remembered as one of the greats, he may not even be remembered at all, but had the events of early January gone differently, he could have been remembered as a hero. Darlington's departure sees the last of the "Lewington" players move on under Boothroyd as Watford prepare for the Revolution.
Dan Porter / Ian Grant