From: Watford FC Academy
Record: Played: 0 Scored: 0
To: ??? - Free transfer - February 2003
He was: A victim of Vialli's Reserve team policy.
When you get a job on a who-you-know basis, I suspect there must always be
that extra pressure to prove that the bloke batting for you in the token
interview was right.
Such was the problem for young Barrie Matthews - a product of the country's
most successful non-League, and first ever, 'Football Academy' at
Cirencester Town FC. It was run by David Hockaday, a vastly experienced
ex-professional, who is now a respected Academy coach with Watford.
Barrie joined the club's Academy half-way through, so to speak, in summer
2000 with David Hockaday speaking in glowing terms about him and Cirencester
colleague Nick Williams. No doubt the pair had talent, but there's a difference between an impressive
youth team charge and a successful first-team candidate (Kevin Belgrave,
All the reports were of an industrious and even over-committed youth team
defender who would go on to achieve much greatness.
But Barrie fell foul of Luca Vialli's insistence upon grinding young
professionals into submission in a Reserve team which, in 2001/02, rarely
had the luxury of a player with any first-team experience.
The niggling injury syndrome began to affect the Cinderford-born full-back
towards the end of that season - and who could blame him. Surely none of the
younger lads were looking forward to another season of ritual humiliation at
the hands of various Premiership cast-offs and wannabes.
If only he'd stayed fit in 2002/03, things may have been so different. Nigel
Gibbs has enjoyed a wealth of experience this time round, and Barrie might
have flourished - but, with his confidence shot, the treatment table seemed
a happier home.
There's a player within Matthews...but, like others, Vialli saw to it that
any hope was crushed.