Into The Hornets’ Nest – 30/9/14

deeneyIt’s a local derby for Brentford tonight when they visit Vicarage Road to take on a Watford team that has serious promotion aspirations.

In other words yet another mountain for Brentford to climb, but to be honest we are saying the pretty much the same before every match as there really is no such thing as an easy game in the Championship.

Watford have made a solid start to the campaign and are a vibrant attacking team jam packed full of extravagant foreign talent brought in by their owner, Giampaolo Pozzo.

And yet this just might not be the worst time to play them for a variety of reasons.

Watford had a long and exhausting journey back home from Blackburn on Saturday and the Bees will hope that they are still leggy and recovering from all their travelling.

Star striker and team fulcrum and inspiration Troy Deeney is still absent through his hamstring injury, not that Watford are short of other excellent striking options, and Oscar Garcia yesterday resigned as Head Coach through health reasons after a stay of less than four weeks, following his recent heart scare.

We obviously all wish him a full and speedy recovery and recuperation and he has quickly and seamlessly been replaced by his assistant, former Fulham coach, Billy McKinlay, who is an experienced and wily old bird.

garciaLet’s hope that I haven’t simply been clutching at straws as Brentford will need all the help they can get and also perform at their optimum if they are to make the short journey home clasping one, or even three, precious points.

There is a strong ex-Watford connection at the club.

Brentford manager Mark Warburton, formerly head of the Watford Academy will be keen and determined to make a successful return to his former stamping ground.

His squad also contains two former Watford heroes in Richard Lee and Tommy Smith, however injury will most likely reduce their role to that of cheerleader, a state of affairs that must be extremely frustrating to the pair of them who would have welcomed the opportunity to perform in front of their former supporters.

Lee’s injury will allow another ex-Hornet in Jack Bonham to sit on the bench.

Toumani Diagouraga also had a spell at Vicarage Road and, if selected tonight, will want to prove to his former employers that they were wrong to let him go.

watfordBrentford come into the match on the crest of a wave and bursting with confidence after Saturday’s best performance of the season and three points against a Leeds team who were totally outplayed and outclassed and were fortunate to escape with only a two goal defeat.

It would be easy for Mark Warburton to say “same again” and, injuries permitting, send out the same eleven who performed so well.

He adopted that approach after our excellent and vibrant performance against Norwich and sent pretty much the same team out four days later at Middlesbrough, but his decision totally backfired when they ran out of steam and were hammered by a rampant home team.

There were three late substitutions on Saturday when Pritchard, Jota and Gray were taken off and replaced by Tebar, Proschwitz and Diagouraga and I wonder if any of them plus perhaps Dean, Toral and Betinho will feature from the start tonight?

A key to achieving success this season will be to use the full complement of the squad and the necessity to rest players when required.

This is particularly important this week when we play Watford tonight followed by yet another tough game (aren’t they all!) on Saturday against Reading.

At least we do not have the problem of travel weariness given the absence of long journeys this week.

Given the injuries to Lee, Smith, Dallas, Saunders, Hogan and Yennaris the manager’s options are fairly limited unless he decides to blood some of the youngsters such as Calvet, Clarke, Moore and perhaps even Bradley Clayton, yet another gem to emerge from the ranks of the Academy.

Their time will certainly come, perhaps later on in the season, but I still feel that the squad needs boosting by another couple of bodies as the pressure and tiredness begin to take their toll.

At least we will have another International Break (how I love that term when used in connection with the Bees) after the Reading match when we will have a full fortnight to recharge our batteries.

The Bees have sold out their entire allocation of just over two thousand tickets and that number will be boosted by at least one as I will be sitting on my hands in the Watford end accompanying a Hornets season ticket holder friend of mine.

Let’s hope that a few things happen tonight that, given where I am sitting, I will be unable to shout and applaud about!

For those of you too young to remember, there was a keen rivalry between the two clubs, particularly in the mid to late 70s, before Watford motored on ahead on their journey to the top division, under the inspired leadership of Graham Taylor.

The last time we won at Vicarage Road was back in April 1977 when Andy McCulloch’s majestic header, accompanied by Paul Priddy’s two incredible penalty saves gave us a very satisfying one nil victory.

That completed a rare double as the previous month a large and expectant crowd under the floodlights at Griffin Park saw an electrifying three goal burst in the opening quarter of the game which enabled the Bees to cruise to victory.

As always there is a back story and apparently Jackie Graham made it perfectly clear to his team mates just before the match in the tunnel exactly how much it meant to him to beat our local rivals, and, probably more terrified of their own skipper than the opposition, the Bees came out of the traps like scalded cats and hammered their opponents.

Watford took full revenge the following season when they cruised effortlessly to victory by the same score at Griffin Park.

The season ended with both teams being promoted from the Fourth Division and an honours even draw at Vicarage Road.

As ITV’s “The Big Match” coverage confirms, we then played out a thrilling three-all draw the following season in a match notable for the appearance of the Playboy Bunny Girls and the phantom whistle just before Watford’s second goal.

Marvellous memories.

In our last brief spell in the second tier of English football, an appalling home team penalty decision for hand ball when the ball was driven against Billy Manuel from point blank range settled the match and contributed greatly to our eventual relegation, so perhaps we are looking for some payback tonight.

Some of you might have read the regular correspondence I have been receiving from former Bees and Watford striker Richard Poole and I hope that he is anxiously looking out for the result tonight from his home in France, and I am pretty sure which team he hopes to win too!

Games between the two clubs are invariably passionate and exciting and I expect nothing less tonight.

Let’s just hope I can keep my mouth shut during the game or my enjoyment of the proceedings could be curtailed and end earlier than I would like!

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7 thoughts on “Into The Hornets’ Nest – 30/9/14

  1. I remember that 1977 game at Watford as i was a Watford player that day we were exactly 3 old bees in that team me steve sherwood and keith prichett as i said that fiinshed our promotions hope and the first game at brentford was called of because of snow and ice. i was to play that day it was 16h when the game was called off and when rearranged i was not picked a big disspoint for me .But MR Waterman you always remember that easter saturday bot i think you have forgeot the start of that same season we did not my beloved Brentford out of the League cup but thou i did not play Brentford help me to make my Watford debut in the follwing round at the then fancied EAGLES Cystal palace where we won thou in the next we lost at sheffeield Wednesday where i played as well.As for tonight well iam for Brentford and i as well think it is a good time to play them as Iam a little big worried for our games later in the season when the heavy pitches of winter will start as you said My brentford are now a good football playing team with quick play ball players i wonder how this will favour in the coming winter months

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  2. I well remember the League Cup thrashings and really didn’t want to mention them as we were totally outclassed!

    I share your concerns about how we will cope with the heavier pitches and feel that we will eventually need more height and strength in the squad.

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  3. I was there at the win back in 1977 with my Dad who died the following January.

    We were late and we parked up and raced to the ground and as we were nearer the home end he took me and my 12 year old brother with him into the home end!
    He then spent the whole game cheering on Brentford while me and my brother cowered behind him and one of my lasting memories is the abuse and spittle that headed his way as he jumped up and down when Priddy saved the second pen.
    On the way out I also recall a Watford fan telling as he walked past “You must be mental and you need to keep quiet on your way out” My dad smiled an said “Why, I’ve not had any trouble up to now!”

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