Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Should We, Shouldn't We?


It's been a while.

I've been stirred into life today, with the news that Troy Deeney is again being linked with a move away from The Vic. Leicester City being the club reported as the interested party, with a bid of £7.5 million.

I wanted to jot a few words on my thoughts and Twitter is all well and good but it would take a few tweets, so thought it best to type here.

If I were the owner, I would be doing all I can to keep Deeney for this season. Promotion is the ultimate goal. We have done exceptional business thus far this summer and we are obviously stronger with Troy.

Deeney could be made a promise that if he gives us one more year and we do not get promotion, he can leave for the Premiership.

Hopefully he can achieve his Premiership dream at the end of this coming season with Watford but if he doesn't, I would very much doubt his value would fall in the next year. If anything and he again proves to be the main man, his price will only increase.

I do understand the business model that the club operates under the Pozzo regime.

Being in the top league of the country the club plays in, is part of that business model.

I am hoping that Troy Deeney is seen as key to that because I'm sure most of the fans feel he is.

To sell him could be seen as a backwards step, in what has been, so far, a summer of great strides.

Ultimately, there is, I'm sure, a price or scenario (£ + player) for Troy, in the owner's mind, at which they will do business. Also, I hope that Troy has a level of club in mind that he would think about moving to, rather than joining a pre-season relegation favorite, just because they are in The Premier League.

We shall see but one thing is for sure, Watford FC are far from the easy target they once were in the transfer market, when the 'bigger boys' come calling.

I'm remaining optimistic that Troy Deeney will not only lead the line for Watford this season but he will do so as Captain.


Cheers all.


tweet @hoganwatford

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Get Real.

Afternoon all.

At work at the moment, so sneaking this one in under the radar.

Correct me if I am wrong but as of the last day of season 2013/14, Watford FC were a mid-table Sky Bet Championship side.

Today they announced the signing of Craig Cathcart from Blackpool, on a 2 year deal.

Craig Cathcart is a 25 year old who started his career at Manchester United.

Craig Cathcart has played professional football in Belgium.

Craig Cathcart has played 30 times in the Premier League.

Craig Cathcart has played 101 games in The Championship.

Craig Cathcart has 15 caps for Northern Ireland.

Craig Cathcart has played for Watford FC before.

He's British and experienced.

He's cost nothing. A free signing!

And yet still people moan!

Welcome to The Vic, Craig.

You have the support of all sensible Watford FC fans.



Tweet @hoganwatford

Saturday, 21 June 2014

The Ashes Aren't Big Enough.


Up, walked the dog and as sometimes happens, I had a few thoughts.

Less than 24 hours after their second defeat in the World Cup, England's slim mathematical chance of progressing to round two was blown to bits by a wonderful Costa Rican performance against Italy.

England's woeful tournament showings, especially since the 90's come as no surprise to me and I honestly believe that England are destined to never win a trophy (or come anywhere to winning a trophy) anytime soon and it goes far beyond the way football is taught at grassroots level.

If you've a few minutes to spare, here is my reasoning.

Firstly, the nation's obsession with celebrity - Football has enjoyed a huge popularity surge over the past three decades. The Hillsborough disaster in 1989 brought about a change in how football was watched live, with the introduction of all seated venues. That coupled with the birth of Sky TV and their glamorous coverage of the Premier League has made Football more accessible and its fan base has broadened beyond expectation.

In the last couple of decades, the media's obsession with who is doing what to who has more and more branched out from film and music stars, to encompass those involved in sport. It has created idols, heroes and villains off the pitch, of persons who really should only be any of those things on the pitch. We now have a nation full of people more interested in what players are wearing, or who they are sleeping with, than what they do in their primary profession.

The spoiling of our children - Wealth, in fact, has very little to do with the compulsion to spoil. I see kids, even with parents on low income, wearing all the latest fashions, playing Xbox, sporting the brand new home strip of whatever team they claim to support that week, all because they stomp their feet until they get what they want.

From the sport perspective, I see kids playing in youth football teams demanding they play for another team because they think they are better than those around them (in many cases, they are nothing special). I see parents pandering, letting the child dictate, rather than explaining to them that perhaps it be better to stay and fight and lead because the cream will always rise to the top.

Many don't teach their children that life isn't always easy and that you can't just give up and walk away when things get tough. Most things in life have to be earned. You have to work hard to achieve your goals.

Another word for spoiling is ruining. Kids are literally being ruined by mums and dads who simply find it easier to give in. Bluntly, they are morons breeding a generation of (excuse me) fucking idiots. Spoiling is not love. It is as destructive and abusive as the more obvious forms of neglect.

Those lucky enough to be picked up by top clubs and go on to sign professional forms, in many cases, are given too much too soon. The very best are millionaires in their late teens and even the lesser players are on so much dough that they consider themselves 'Billy Big Bollocks'.

It is not right that they are not given time to grow as people and it can hardly be any great surprise that no British, let alone English player has been considered the best in the world for as long as I can remember, what with all the distractions of money and fame and everything that entails.

It is total rubbish that the influx of foreign players to these shores has hindered the rise of home-grown talent. Grounded, humble, grateful and of course talented lads should have learnt from their overseas counterparts and become as good (if not better) but all of what I address above has put paid to that. You can't blame Dennis Bergkamp for a waster like David Bentley. The culture in other countries, whilst nowhere is perfect, is obviously more conducive to producing not only better footballers but better people. Who would you invite to your dinner party? Lionel Messi or Wayne Rooney? Of course, there are exceptions but I would generally stand by what I say.

The bottom line is, those England boys who went to the World Cup are the best we have. Sadly, whilst there has undoubtedly been hard work to get where they are, they are disadvantaged by being the product of British society that sets them up to fail. Too many end up overpaid millionaires, interested only in personal glory and how they are perceived in the media.

It will take a huge change to our celebrity and media obsessed culture, not least in addressing how we raise our kids, to have a positive knock on effect in changing our nation's future footballing fortunes. Can we get them off the PlayStation and out onto the empty fields? Can we make them earn their favourite team's football top or a new gadget by doing some chores? Will we set them limits and boundaries and instil the ethics of not giving up, teamwork and respect? Keep their feet on the ground? Make them work hard to reap the rewards?

As upsetting as being knocked out of The World Cup after two games is, it will probably change nothing, with so many willing to accept the circle of mediocrity, as long as it's teeth are straight and it's dressed correctly.

Grim as it may sound, perhaps only a huge catastrophe, a war or a natural disaster that devastates the nation, would give us the true fighting foundation to build on (and not just from a football perspective!).

1966 came after 21 years of rebuilding from the end of World War 2.

Unlike the devastation of war, the ashes of this current footballing debacle simply aren't big enough for a Phoenix to rise.

Internationally, we're done and have been for quite some time.

No one wants war or disaster, so the only answer is fundamental change.

Can we change in large enough numbers to make a difference?

I'm going to keep trying.


Tweet @hoganwatford

Friday, 20 June 2014

Well Done Aidan.

Good afternoon troops!

Despite England's World Cup capitulation, I must say it's been a fine week, the highlight being my son, Aidan, winning the 'Players' player of the season' prize, at his club's end of season awards on Wednesday evening.

Myself and his family are so happy for him.

As a goalkeeper, you can often stand by watching the outfield players taking all the accolades but in a tough season, that saw the side unfortunately relegated right at the death, Aidan had a lot coming at him and he eventually shone, going on to win this prize for the second time in three seasons.

I say 'eventually shone' because after half a dozen games or so of the twenty game league season, the lad was out of form, bemoaning his luck and was, perhaps, weighing up jacking it all in.

A quiet word from management, the 'threat' of being dropped and me taking up the responsibility of training him one on one at the team's weekly sessions bore results immediately. He improved, was back to his best inside three or four games and towards the end of the campaign he was in the best form of his young life.

This end of season award is testament to a turn around brought about by a good attitude and hard work. Both Aidan and I are very thankful to the team mates and parents who selected him as their player of the season and to the team management, who kept faith in him and have continued to give him plenty of encouragement.

Aidan sometimes finds it difficult to differentiate between Dad and Paul, the bloke who knows a bit about goalkeeping but he's getting there. He thoroughly deserves the recognition and I am very pleased to have played a small part in helping him forward and I'm looking forward to continuing to help him, ongoing.

His Mum and myself are rightly proud of him, not least in the fact that he does not get too big for his boots. There is no talk of leaving to play for a 'better team'. He is very much of the attitude that 'we've been relegated as a team so let's get back up as a team'. That's an attitude I, the management and many of the parents thankfully share.

The team, Evergreen Juniors, based in Abbots Langley (Near Watford) are moving up from 9 a side to 11 a side in the Under 13 age group this coming season (starting end of August) and are therefore looking for a few new players. Any interested boys must be going into year 8 at school this coming September. Training is generally on a Wednesday evening with matches on a Sunday morning, in the West Herts Youth League.

It is a decent team, with great lads and some real characters and it's really well run by Corey and Dean. The club has good facilities and is a real part of the community. All the parents are welcoming and friendly, which is always a bonus when someone new comes along.

If you want the contact details to arrange a trial for your lad, please email me at paulyhogan@hotmail.com and I can relay the info to you.

I wish you all a fantastic weekend.

I'll, no doubt, be immersed in football!



Tweet @hoganwatford

Sunday, 15 June 2014


A very good afternoon to you all.

I was, I am and I will always be far from perfect but if I could offer up one tip on what is the key to being a great Dad (well, parent in general really), it is that spoiling your kids, giving in to their every whim and letting them dictate what goes, is a recipe for disaster.

For me it's about giving them your time, your wisdom and every ounce of your love.

It's not about giving them everything they ask for.

Make them earn things.

Teach them respect.

What you do for and to your kids when they are young, will go a long way in dictating how they and subsequently their own children turn out.

Being a Dad should never mean having an easy life and as I know from personal experience, it's never too late to have a positive influence on the life of a youngster.

I'm giving it my all and I feel blessed today (and every day) because I am lucky enough to be Dad to a wonderful young man.

It's the best job there is.

And thinking about it, I've had some great role models.

Happy Fathers Day.


Tweet @hoganwatford

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

40 Years A Friend.


It's my mate's birthday today.

I thought I'd jot down a few thoughts during my lunch break at work, as it just struck me that I've now known the birthday boy for 40 years (40 YEARS!!!) or near as dammit, having met at a local pre-school playgroup when we were about 2 years old.

That chance meeting formed lifelong bonds between two families.

He and I have been through a lot, since then.

The whole of school, family holidays, Christmas jumpers, forming a band and writing music, to name a few things.

We've seen weddings, births and death.

We've laughed and cried.

We've fallen out.

We've cursed each other from time to time.

We know things we never wanted to know.

We've come back stronger.

We are there for each other.

We don't compete.

We have respect.

We have stories to tell.

We have brotherly love.

We are getting to know the next generation.

We are family.

40 years a friend.

Undoubtably one of my greatest achievements.

Happy birthday David and cheers!



Thursday, 5 June 2014

Looking Back Is a Marvellous Way of Checking How Far You've Come.


A fine, bright start here in suburban Hertfordshire.

Make the most of it while you can!!

As the calendar has meandered its way into the month of June, my attention, as it always does at this time of year, has been drawn to 'The Sway', the band I am a founder member of, played Bass Guitar in and on occasion, wrote songs for.

June was the month the monster was created and 1989 was the year. So this month is officially the band's 25th anniversary!

I don't often feel my age but the thought of 25 years passing since my first foray into the murky world of rock and roll is a scary one because it simply feels like yesterday.

We were a good band, no doubt but the bottom line is despite many great achievements (2 top 100 records, 2 UK tours, headlining The Marquee in London twice, being regular mischief makers around the pubs and clubs of Camden and having bands such as Travis as our support act), the step up to the next level, as with so many bands in that era just before the internet, never materialised.

I can look back now and be grateful, be it by the grace of God, the hand of fate or the whim of good old lady luck herself, that I didn't 'make it' because a man with my appetite for destruction and a taste for everything indulgent, in measures whatever the opposite of moderation is, would simply not have come out the other side.

In the intervening years since the band originally split in August 1995, I managed to control the addictions within me for large periods of time and although I have completely succumbed to them on three occasions, not being in a fame seeking rock and roll band undoubtedly resulted in a slower acceleration of the disease and ultimately, ensured my survival.

So today I can reminisce fondly about the music. I can laugh at the mayhem surrounding those early years. I can be satisfied that we got back together a few years back to record the album we never got to make first time round.

I'm proud of the lifelong bonds formed, that would not have been born, if not for the existence of the band. I am particularly warmed by the fact that my friend of 40 years and the man I wrote my first song with over 25 years ago, is still my friend today.

Not least, we, as a band, can be proud (and pehaps amazed) by the popularity that our music has achieved in our absence.

As this anniversary swung round, I have been online to check out what's what and have a fair estimate that all of The Sway related material across dozens of different internet sites, now tops half a million combined downloads, listens and views.

Everything has been put out there free of charge to listen to and download. The most important thing  now, is that the music is enjoyed and continues to be shared.

http://www.jamendo.com/en/list/a27356/the-sway-silk-ep (link to the 1993 Silk EP)

http://www.jamendo.com/en/list/a27359/the-sway-going-blind-ep (link to the 1995 Going Blind EP)

http://www.jamendo.com/en/list/a113950/the-sway-when-worlds-collide (link to the 2011 Album, When Worlds Collide)

So I hope you do enjoy it and if you do, please, please share it.

I'm here today as a Father, Husband, Friend, Son, Brother, sometimes writer and very much an ex-rock and roll bass player.

As the title says, looking back is a marvellous way of checking how far you've come.

I've come along way.

And I did 'Make it' really, simply because I'm still here and I'm happy.

Happy Birthday to The Sway.



Tweet @hoganwatford

Saturday, 31 May 2014

I'm Free!

Good Morning Folks.

Hope you are all well.

I'm very happy, celebrating 18 months free from the affliction of addiction.

I have recently been mulling over what makes for a successful recovery and have realised that all the things that make my life a relative success today, would make my life a relative success, even had I not been gripped by this disease.

I'm not going to bore you with the gory details but what I will lay on you today, is my top ten (personal) steps to becoming a decent addition to the human race.

1. Change is not necessarily a bad thing. If your friends have abandoned you, your family are distant and yet your internal motivational poster still reads, 'I am what I am!' or 'I don't need to change!' or, 'It's not me! It's everybody else!', then you are likely to be an arsehole. Change.

2. Allow somethings to remain a mystery. Not everything needs a scientific answer. There's a vast universe out there, to which you are not the centre. Be amazed.

3. Keep the fellowship of persons who know, from personal experience themselves, what you are going through and where you have been. When you are strong, make yourself available to those who those who are experiencing struggles similar to what you have been through yourself. Pass on the gift of Recovery.

4. Listen first, tell it how it is but don't preach. No matter how similar the manifestation of the affliction is, the story is always different.

5. Do not entertain antagonists. There is a huge difference between someone having the courage of their conviction and principals, to someone spoiling for a fight. Let them go, leave them hanging. Some people were destined to be left behind chasing their own tails, convinced that they are happy in their own madness. Maybe one day they will find a better way.

6. Clear your life of seediness. It will eat away at you. Replace it with love.

7. Build bridges, rekindle family ties and friendships. It takes a brave one to say sorry and ask for forgiveness.

8. Don't dwell on what is impossible and concentrate on the achievable. Accept each victory and each defeat with the same good grace.

9. Best things in life are free? Quite possibly! Indulge yourself in time with family and friends. Be kind, smile, laugh, don't boast, don't be materialistic and don't get involved in keeping up with the Joneses. Be the catalyst to repair relationships when wires are crossed or things break down. Take each day as it comes and deal with life's challengers, as they arise. Ask for things when you need them and give generously when you can.

10. Be strong but allow yourself to feel. Sadness, happiness, anger and fear are all healthy if you act on each one in the proper manner. If your answer always makes things worse, then it is not an answer.

I consider myself very lucky to be here, able to put the above into action. Some are not so fortunate and many have slipped off the path of life far too early. They are never far from my thoughts.

The above may seem, altruistic or hippyish but it can be that easy. The key is not to overthink it.

Simplifying my own life was the best thing I ever did.

Have a great weekend, my friends.


Tweet @hoganwatford

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Horses For Courses.


Hope you're all well.

Just a quick update of the blog following the news of another signing for Watford FC, in the form of Romanian International Centre Back, Gabriel Tamas.

Like our other two signings so far (Gomes and Dyer), what is excellent about the addition of Tamas is that he has played in England for a large chunk of his career, with West Brom and laterly, a short stint in the Championship with Doncaster Rovers.

I understand that having experience of football on these shores, does not guarantee that he is going to be amazing but it is a comforting fact, following the influx of talent from abroad last summer, the majority of whom were, to put it kindly, not a great success.

Of course, not having played in England before is not a pre-requisite for failure, as the likes of Almen Abdi and Daniel Tozser (to name but two) have proved but I fully expect any future signings we make, using our Pozzo connections, to be given a lot more thought, as to how they will help balance the squad.

I am aware that Tamas gives it his all, both on an off the field and I can only hope that incidents off the pitch, involving drink, are now behind him.

Reading an article on the official Watford FC website, Tamas has said himself that he is impressed with Watford's vision and that he hopes to play in the Premier League again (it is his aim with The Hornets).

He is 30 years old, vastly experienced and could be the rock that a successful defensive unit is built on.

With Angella alongside him, it could be the no nonsense/classy combination that has been the mainstay of many of the best defences of the past 30 years.

With no news, or any substantial rumours doing the rounds, regarding major exits at Vicarage Road (I know it's early days and the transfer window proper, isn't open), our more considered, horses for courses transfer policy so far this summer, is filling me with excitement for the forthcoming season.

Of course, that could all change at the drop of a hat.

We'll see!

Enjoy your day and cheers.


Tweet @hoganwatford

Sunday, 25 May 2014

What Do I Know?

Good morning to you all.

So there was no news.

Then there was some news.

Some big, juicy, very significant news.

The signing of Heurelho Gomes, whos contract at Spurs expires shortly, on a 1 year deal (with option of a further year), came as quite a shock, to be honest.

My initial thoughts were, that the bloke hasn't played for an age and he is well known for making high profile mistakes. Given that both Watford keepers, Almunia and Bond, had gifted the opposition several goals between them, the season past, I'll be honest, the news on Gomes had me worried and a little angry, for a few hours yesterday morning.

As I digested the information, I took to twitter to vent my frustration. It was clear that there were many feeling as I did but there were also many, very happy and positive about the acquisition and there were also many Spurs fans arguing that Watford were acquiring the services of a very good goalkeeper.

Now I'm not a tunnel vision merchant. I am willing to listen and to research in order to understand the information that is being presented to me. Therefore, leaving aside the issue of reliability, what do I now know about Heurelho da Silva Gomes?

The 6ft 3" tall, 33 year old Brazilian International (11 Caps) won four consecutive Dutch League titles in his time with PSV Eindhoven (2004 - 2008), playing most of the games in each of his four seasons there.

He helped PSV to a Champions League Semi Final in his first season (they had never been past the last 16 in 14 previous attempts) and was a real favourite with the Eindhoven crowd throughout his time there.

A sensational shot stopper with excellent distribution, particularly with his throws, he moved to Tottenham Hotspur in 2008 and had his best season in England in 2009/2010 but he has played next to no football at Spurs since the end of the 2010/2011 season (although he did play nine games on loan at Hoffenheim in Germany, at tail end of the 2012/2013 season).

I have watched the obligatory 'Best of' You Tube video (I refused to watch the 'Worst of') and there is no doubt that the man is a fantastic athlete, capable of truly exceptional, dare I say 'world class'? saves.

At 33 years of age, he has stated that the vision of where Watford are heading (Premier League), is what prompted him to step down a division and I don't doubt that there were other suitors.

It is not incomprehensible, given his age (by no means past it for a keeper), if the Vicarage Road faithful get behind this man from the off, his most consistent form could yet be ahead of him.

In short, Watford are getting an experienced international goalkeeper who has lived in England for the past six years, who can speak English, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch fluently, for an outlay of £0 in the transfer market.

Couple this with the imminent arrival of Lloyd Dyer (£0) from Leicester and there are encouraging signs that last summer's 'Throw enough at it and hope something sticks' transfer policy has been abandoned, in favour of signing decent players who are familiar with the English game and should take little time to settle.

What Gomes' arrival will mean in terms of the other keepers (Almunia, Bondy and Woods) from last season, will soon come to light but I think there is little doubt that Gomes has come in to be Number 1.

Personally, I would not be disappointed with Almunia or Woods (or both) getting 1 year extensions to play back up to Gomes with Bond getting a full year's playing experience out on loan.

Ultimately, my hope is that  Gomes comes with hunger to play, desire to prove himself and with an understanding that he must give it his all.

24 hours have now passed since I heard the news.

Disappointment has now turned to optimism.

He has a clean slate.

Good luck and welcome, Heurelho.

Hope you all enjoy the rest of the weekend, folks.

Tweet @hoganwatford

Friday, 23 May 2014

Don't Go Back......... Perhaps.


Been a bit quiet on the Watford FC news front, although I am very happy with the fairly recent news that Lloyd Dyer (ex-Leicester City) is joining on a 3 year deal, imminently.

A good player. Experienced and ready for the Championship.

Talking of good players, rumour of Matej Vydra rejoining The Golden Boys refuses to die.

Whilst most will be happy with the return of the 20 goal hero of the 2012/2013 season and current Czech International, it seems that Vydra, perhaps at the insistence of his very annoying agent, Ondrej Chovanec, is holding out for another crack at the Premier League.

All Hornets' fans will be aware how last season at West Brom went for Vydra.

Whilst it is the job of an agent to do the best by his client, in terms of club and wages, given the experience Vydra had in his single season in England's top flight, many, myself included, feel that a step back into the Championship, with Watford, would invigorate the 22 year old's career. Then, it may not beyond the realms of possibility that Matej could fulfill his Premier League ambition, by turning out for Watford in the Premier League, at the start of 2015/2016 season.

For me there are more pressing issues for Watford to address this summer. Goalkeeper, Central Defence and getting a certain Daniel Tozser signed up for another season. If Deeney stays, with Forestieri and Ranegie as partner options and Uche Ikpeazu stepping up after his loan success at Crewe (and Anya able to play upfront if there is a striker crisis), our attacking options are looking promising.

If Vydra (or his agent) doesn't think enough of Watford, or indeed his career to insist on a comeback (with a huge point to prove), rather than use a return to Vicarage Road as some sort of back up plan, then I'd suggest that we remember the good things he did for us and look to a future without him.

The return of a half-hearted player who has run out of options, isn't something I want to see.

I hope he makes the decision before all the love is gone.


tweet @hoganwatford

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Farewell Marco Cassetti.

So I wake to news that Marco Cassetti (pictured with my son) had bid farewell to Watford, via Twitter.

I'm not going to start analysing his career or pretend to be some sort of authority on Italian football or any of that stuff.

I just want to say a few things.

1. What a beard!

2. It's a shame he came so late in his career but I rejoice in the fact that he came at all. He is a class act.

3. Going to work, doing his best for his family, whilst being parted from them for long period must have been hard for all of them and knowing that has only increased my admiration for him. He's going home to them now. They will be happy and proud, I'm sure.

4. He has been exciting to watch, committed to the cause, has sailed close to the wind at times no doubt but has become a real fans' favourite during his time in Hertfordshire. He'll be fondly remembered and sorely missed.

5. As a fan who is just a little older than the likes of Cassetti and Almunia, to have had them around has definitely cemented my connection to the team. As much as I love the younger members of the squad, naturally these older guys have earned my respect in general, as well as my admiration in respect of their footballing prowess.

6. I wish Marco all the very best with what ever comes next. It's a shame it couldn't have been for longer but who knows? Perhaps Watford have not seen the last of him in the long term.

Farewell Marco Cassetti.

It's been a blast!

Tweet @hoganwatford

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Not All Journeys Are The Same.

Here I am.

Missing the buzz of looking forward to the next Watford game already and not a lot going on in WFC related news, either (although I do see some Vydra stories emerging).

Perhaps time to tell you a bit more about myself?

Ahhh, go on then!

Born in the early 70's, in North London, I raised myself an Arsenal fan.

Having been born into a Tottenham supporting household and taking into consideration the period of Liverpudlian dominance that occurred during my formative school years, the late 70's and early 80's, it may have seemed a strange choice to some but Arsenal had the one thing the other two did not, at the moment I made my decision.....

Goalkeeper Pat Jennings.

Pat was my hero as a budding young 'keeper myself and for me, the greatest keeper to have ever walked the earth and yes! Pat having played 48 games for his first English club, Watford FC, in the early 1960's, was my first tentative link to the club that I would become so attached to many years later.

My Dad was (and still is, in my eyes) a legend. Taking me to Arsenal games as a staunch Tottenham man must have made him die inside a fair bit but perhaps the pain was lessened somewhat, knowing that my initial motivation was Big Pat, who was also a Spurs legend. So much of a hero in fact, that Tottenham fans, in general, held no animosity toward him following his switch to The Gunners. It is testament to the man that he is idolised by both sets of fans and is welcomed at both clubs, to this day.

Once at secondary school, my Dad was relieved of the burden of having to take me and I went to Highbury fairly regularly with a group of school mates. We insisted on standing on the North Bank but actually saw very little football (due to our size and the mass of swaying bodies surrounding us), which was probably not a bad thing, as Arsenal were dire in the mid 80's.

Back then, Watford, under the stewardship of Graham Taylor, had captured the football nation's attention via their meteoric rise through the leagues, to finish runners up to Liverpool in their first season in the top flight at the end of the 1982/83 season. This was not lost on me and The Hornet's number 1 at the time, Steve Sherwood was added to the shortlist of 'keepers that I admired and tried to emulate.

A little later, during the late 80's and early 90's, a combination of working in Hertfordshire and the fact my Aunt and Uncle moved to Garston and had become Watford regulars, with their three young kids often being match day mascots at The Vic, meant I was quite often popping over to see Watford play on a Saturday afternoon.

Eventually, the tentative link was to become a permanent one and in May 2003 myself, my wife and my son became Watford residents ourselves and a move to the area naturally increased my interest in the football club.

I've always held the belief that it is a very good thing to support your local team and I also believe that although, as a child, I had chosen Arsenal over my father's team, the fact that I had been a North London lad, supporting a North London team, meant that he could not use the 'support your local team' argument against me and had to respect my decision. For the record, I still hold Arsenal in high esteem and will be cheering them on from my sofa, in the forthcoming FA Cup Final. I'm not going to airbrush out my relationship with The Gunners. I have formed many great friendships throughout my life with Arsenal people and they are forever in my heart.

My son, was only a 17 months old when we moved to Hertfordshire. As he grew and when it was clear that he had inherited my love of football, visits to Arsenal and Watford followed.

My boy is a budding goalkeeper and as he developed both as a person and as a footballer, it became clear that Watford FC above Arsenal was the club for him. He is a Watford lad, not born, but certainly bred and I am proud that he has chosen his local club to support.

As he has grown into Watford, he has taken me with him and I have been a very willing passenger, given the subtle ties I had already formed with the club over time.

Ultimately, addiction has blighted much of my adult life but happily, Watford FC, has been a key component in my recovery, particularly in the rebuilding of the relationship with my son, that had been somewhat damaged by what I call my illness and what some may see as reckless lifestyle choices.

We have been regulars at the Vic for the past six seasons and became season ticket holders as soon as it was apparent that we were in this was for the long haul.

You can think what you want of how I came to be a full time time, paid up member of the family we call Watford Football Club. The bottom line is, I will be around, probably till my dying day. I'm not a glory hunter, swapping one team for another with great regularity. Finding the place I wanted to be in football supporting terms (hell, in terms of life in general), just took a bloody long time. I've made sure that I've not only given the team unswerving support these past years but have acquainted myself generously with the history of this fantastic institution.

I have raised and will continue to raise a lad who will support his local football team, hopefully for the rest of his life and one day, God willing, his children will become Watford fans themselves, or perhaps fans of whoever are the local team where they live, should life sweep my boy up out of Watford and plant him somewhere different.

Watford FC has become a huge part of my life. Myself and my son attend every home game and many away fixtures and whilst I am fanatical in my support and follow what is going on both on and off the pitch religiously, I have managed to balance that with the repair and growth of relationships with my son, my wife and my friends and family.

It would seem that Watford and I were destined for one another.

I feel like I belong.

In fact, I know I belong and I can't wait to see where the Watford story takes us next.

Thanks for reading.


Tweet @hoganwatford

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Gutless Rubbish.


Was at the match, of course, yesterday.

Had been looking forward to it and the fine weather inflated my enthusiasm.

Add in the fact that my cousin and his sons were coming down to the game and Watford were unbeaten in all of their previous visits, there was cause for huge optimism.

What unfolded was utter, gutless rubbish and a pathetic end to not only the season but to an unbeaten home run dating back to January.

The first half was a stroll about in the sunshine for both teams. Then, as Huddersfield scored seconds after the restart, they threw caution to the wind and thought, 'sod it, we can win this' and had a right good go at us.

Our response came in the dying seconds at 4 nil down, when we showed enough fight to win and convert a penalty.

It was shameful, really.

Before the Charlton game I couldn't contemplate losing the final two games of the season. I thought we had a Head Coach fighting to show that he has what it takes to continue in the job and players who would be playing like men who want to show that they are worthy of continued employment.

The players let everyone down yesterday (and indeed in many games this season). Most significantly, they let us down, the fans. The very people who pay their wages.

Now I've always been able to accept defeat as part of football (and life, to be honest) but I find that a lack of fight, even in defeat, is a bitter pill to swallow.

As a kid, I dreamed of being privileged enough to earn a living playing football and I remember thinking that if that came true, there would be no way I'd not give 100% every game.

Many of those on the pitch yesterday, need to understand that unlike me, they have got themselves to the privileged position I dreamed about as a child and they need to remember that although defeat may sometimes be unavoidable, each and every game they must give it their all.

It's not a difficult concept.

One of the few to end yesterday on a positive was Troy Deeney, scoring his 26th goal of what, for him, has been a landmark season (his second 20 plus goal season on the spin). He has been a shining light. A massive positive in a season of failure.

Troy was fittingly awarded with the Watford Observer player of the season trophy (as voted for by the fans), prior to kick off. I don't think anyone can begrudge him this accolade and he can hold his head up high, knowing that he has repaid Watford FC twice over for the faith they showed in standing by him, following his bush with the law a couple of years back.

The transfer speculation surrounding Deeney is already in full swing. I would love him to stay, of course but reality wound suggest that if a significant offer comes in from a Premier League club, Watford would be in no position to turn it down.

More of that and where we go from here, in the coming days and weeks, I'm sure.

For now, I am glad that the season is over, as it is time for all that is beyond our control to play out and shape our destiny for the 2014/15 campaign. That in itself brings its own excitement and discussion but I will say that despite 2013/14 falling far below expectations, I have enjoyed it. For me it goes beyond results into time spent with my son, away days visiting new places, discussions with likeminded fellows and some decent banter.

That said, a successful promotion push next season will be at the top of my wish list.

Enjoy the rest of the bank holiday weekend, folks.

Speak to you soon.


Tweet @hoganwatford

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

A Crystal Ball Would Be Handy, Right About Now.

So here we are, friends.

At the final knockings of a season that promised so much but ultimately, delivered only a little.

There have been some fantastic wins and an hour or so of dreamland, up at the Etihad.

There has been the introduction of the fantastic Daniel Tozser to the playing staff, along with a promising cameo towards the end, from the very experienced Albert Riera. Two players I would very much like to see starting next season in Watford yellow.

Gabriele Angella appears to have all the talent to be a top class defender and Troy Deeney has again excelled, enjoying another season where he has contributed 20 plus goals. We can only hope they give us another season.

Young Uche Ikpeazu had a fine spell on loan at League One Crewe and he will come back all the better for it.

I don't really feel the need to pick apart, or indeed highlight the numerous lows, specifically. They are clear for all to see but it is worth reminding ourselves that the loss of Almen Abdi for most of the season, coupled with the recent loss of Fernando Forestieri and several interrupted parts of the season for Ikechi Anya, all through injury, coupled with the loss of consistent good form for key players from last season (especially Manuel Aluminia and Joel Ekstrand), has majorly contributed towards the season melting away into nothingness.

Sannino sympathizers such as myself, were asked the other day by a fine, upstanding Watford Supporter on Twitter, how we would feel about Sannino, should the final two games be lost, making it four defeats on the spin.

I must admit, I would be wavering at that point.

As much as I feel that Sannino has done a good job ensuring we were not sucked into a relegation dogfight and my gut feeling is, at this moment in time, that he has done enough to be given the summer and the start of next season to prove he can move us forward, to end the season on such a low would tarnish his image, for me.

Bottom line is the owners want Premier League Football and of course, so do we.

Entering their third season in the Championship, the Pozzos will be (as much as financial constraints allow) moving hell and high water to ensure promotion is achieved at the end of the 2014/15 season. If the owners see fit to change the Head Coach, then so be it.

Perhaps, the timing is wrong for Beppe to be the man. Had he come in at the start of the Pozzo revolution and led us to a top half finish in his first season, then maybe he would have had a chance to bed in differently and maybe this season would have been glorious. Maybe he has done the job he was brought in for.

Only the privileged few are genuinely 'in the know' but one thing is for sure, we lose these last two games and the writing could (and probably should) be on the wall for the man whose passion has been infectious, for me.

But as someone on social media pointed out the other day, it is results, not 'sharp suits and jumping around a bit' that count, at the end of the day.

Very much time to go with the flow, I think.

How the flow goes will be an interesting ride once again, I'm sure.


Tweet @hoganwatford

Sunday, 27 April 2014

We've Come A Long Way.

Happy Sunday to you all.

Well we did it!

Firstly and most importantly I am happy to tell you that Neil and I have, as of this morning, raised £572 (plus a further £108.75 in gift aid) for Marie Curie Cancer Care.

A massive virtual round of applause for all of the wonderful people who kindly donated. You're fantastic!

If there are any latecomers still wishing to donate, please feel free, via the following link: http://www.justgiving.com/TheOddballs

On a personal level, yesterday was tough. Far tougher than I had anticipated. I had trained hard for distance and stamina but the terrain and obstacles, I am not afraid to admit, have battered me. My training never incorporated being shot by paintball snipers, climbing hills with a heavy back pack on, or jumping 6 metres off of scaffolding, onto a massive crash pillow thing. I used muscles I had either forgotten about or failed to realise existed.

But like many hard things in life, I have come through it with positivity and pride.

To some we may just appear to have gone out on a nice sunny day in the countryside, done a middle distance run and thrown ourselves over some stuff. On a broader level, the sense of achievement is vast and emotional because of where we have come from.

Myself, an Alcoholic/Addict whom, three times in recent memory, has been only a matter of weeks away from not being here anymore, now about to celebrate 17 months clean and sober and my great friend Neil, who has transformed himself from a heart attack in a chair, into a true warrior, through sheer hard work and persistence. I'm proud of myself, of course I am but I am equally proud to have a genuine, loving and indeed inspirational friend, as Neil.

So thank you to him, to my family and friends for everything and also to the team I ran with yesterday, who were superb.

Even another rubbish result for Watford on the road, yesterday afternoon, could not extinguish my flame.

More on Watford FC in the coming days, I'm sure.

Have a great day.


Tweet @hoganwatford

Friday, 25 April 2014

Everywhere You Turn....... CHARITY!

Hello there.

On the 27th January 2014 I woke up and decided that having given up drinking and smoking, I was still desperately unfit. So unfit, that having a kick around with my son and his 12 year old mates, left me walking around like a Zombie for days thereafter.

So I decided to run.

That first day, I ran 1.6km (just under 1 mile, in old money).

3 days later I ran 3km, by the 6th February I was up to 5km.

Then, on 18th March 2014, I ran my first 10km in 55mins 7 seconds. People have told me that anything under 1 hour for a geezer of my age, is half decent.

I was extremely proud of myself and have continued the good work to date. Not only because I have I found that I enjoy running, particularly with company (my son and my cousin have joined me for large chunks of my training) but because somewhere in those early days, my good pal, Neil, a recent fitness convert himself, encouraged me to sign up with him, to do the 10km (6.3 miles) version of this: http://www.warrioradrenalinerace.co.uk/ .

In short, a 10km schlep over Dunstable Downs, incorporating an army style assault course.

Now for the painful part.

I know that everywhere you turn there are people asking for your hard earned cash for charitable causes. In the street, through the post, via email and on social networks.

I myself, give where I can, particularly to friends and family getting off their backsides to do something in a fundraising capacity but I am in no way guilt tripped into giving to everything that is shoved under my nose or posted on the internet. That's just not feasible nor is it fair.

However, once in a while something comes along that catches my attention and indeed the wider public's notice, not least the recent wave of emotion captured by 'Stephen's Story': http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/stephens-story-the-sad-spectacle-of-a-young-life-cut-short-should-remind-us-that-theres-not-a-moment-to-waste-9282354.html

Now myself and Neil are fundraising for Marie Curie Cancer and our JustGiving page can be viewed here: http://www.justgiving.com/TheOddballs

Marie Curie Cancer Care, provides care for  terminally ill patients either at home or in their hospices and also offers supports to the families of the ill. Unfortunately, it is an unenviable fact that we are almost all, even in just some small way, touched by the disease of cancer.

What I'm saying to you today is, 'I know we are swamped with requests for donations from this charity and that but don't let that put you off being a charitable person'.

I have not donated to Stephen because I have donated to Marie Curie. I don't feel guilty because I would have donated to Stephen, if I had not donated to a different charity recently. In a few weeks, I will donate a small amount of money to some other cause that catches my attention. It's what I do.

Perhaps, today, if you can spare a few quid and you have not recently made a charitable offering, you could see what is out there that takes your fancy in terms of support and donate (maybe to Stephen, maybe to Marie Curie?). Then, is a few weeks, or a month or two (whatever you are comfortable with, particularly financially), you can look around again and do the same. And so on.

Charity, especially in this age of social media, can, quite frankly, be a pain in the arse but only if you let it. Do what you can, when you can. No more, no less and don't ever be bullied into giving when you don't really want to.

Bottom line is, we live in a world where government (even the better ones) cannot cover everything.

Charities make life better for the ones they assist and no one can blame them for trying.

That's worth remembering.

My race is at 11am tomorrow.

I'll let you know how it goes.



Tweet @hoganwatford

Thursday, 24 April 2014

It's Not Always About Football!


Went on a rare mid-week night out, yesterday evening.

It was touch and go as to whether I would make it. The dilemma being that my son was playing a rearranged football match. His club playing catch up on one of the Sunday fixtures missed, during the winter of biblical rain.

It would be the first of his fixtures that I would be absent from, this season.

It was an important game.

It was a must win game.

They lost.

I went to see Suggs do his one man show (well, one man and a pianist), 'My Life Story', at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage, accompanied by good friends Jim and Neil, who live up that way.

Following on from his recent biography, 'That Close', the show is, loosely, the book brought to life.

The live show, 'My Life Story' is exceptionally written, weaving through the Madness front man's colourful life, starting with his 50th Birthday, darting back to his early years living with his single parent mum in Soho, being taken on holiday to Wales and being left there for three years, his return to London, dodgy schools, music, clothes and of course, the highs and lows of Madness. This is all glued together with the search for the truth about the Father who abandoned him at three years of age and is lovingly intercut with Suggs performing songs by Madness and others, assisted by Deano on piano or guitar.

At first, it seems a little unreal to see this Nutty Boy doing what he is doing but as the show grows, so does the audience's confidence that he is indeed good at this. The show is touching, detailed and most importantly, funny.

Here, Suggs has taken on a lot. There is a ton of dialogue and how he doesn't lose himself, I don't know. Despite the odd stumble he is off and running a blink. Naturally humorous, he exudes confidence and handles the odd (good natured) heckle like an old pro stand-up.

I had expected to the show to be less structured and more chaotic. Once you get your head round the fact that without the structure and the attention to deliver each line as it is written (in order to tell his story as he wants you to hear it, rather than a Madness style free for all), you can only stand on your feet at the end and applaud what is a damn fine effort.

Suggs is a competent solo showman delivering a wonderful story that has been written with exceptional talent and a whole lot of love.

He and his intricate tale left us smiling.

Suggs is at The Watford Colosseum on Saturday 3rd May. Some tickets are still available.


Tweet @hoganwatford

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

It's Only Just Begun......


Following yesterday's early morning blue skies, things have turned a little murky, to be honest.

As I previously mentioned, I was unable to make the game at Loftus Road but followed avidly via social media. I was able to get a decent picture of the game in my mind. I have also since seen the goals on the television.

Once again, we were brought to our knees by a late, late goal.

Slightly different to the recent norm, in that we conceded after we had over committed trying to win the game, rather than seemingly caving in after trying to soak up pressure for 45 minutes. Was a really decent finish by Charlie Austin, to fair.

Of course the result has thrown up a meze of opinions. Some measured, some reactionary and totally understandable and a few barking but that is football for you.

The ones that concern me most are the ones calling for Beppe Sannino's head.

Now I totally understand why he may not be some people's cuppa. He was unknown to virtually all when he came. He's foreign. He doesn't speak English brilliantly (but he is learning). He sets his teams up to press and when the lead is taken, switches to sitting back and hitting teams on the break. We don't win away. We concede late goals. Ultimately, he has not lead us to the playoffs.

I however, am trying to see a big picture and in simple terms, view things as follows:

The Pozzo family are the club's owners. They came in and have secured the club's future for the foreseeable future. They will not be running away anytime soon. The have invested in a brand new East Stand as proof of a long term commitment. The club is now set up to bring through young, home-grown talent, as well as taking advantage of the relationship that was naturally formed with Udinese in Italy and Grenada in Spain. Part of the plan in making the club financially stable and ongoing, profitable, is that when a profit can be turned, it will be. It is not a hobby, it is a business but the owners do love football and want their teams to be operating at the highest level.

In order that the relationships with Udinese and Grenada could be utilised fully, the owners saw it necessary to part company with the well liked (but at the time, unremarkable) Sean Dyche, in favour of Gianfranco Zola, just before the start of the 2012/2013 campaign. This proved to be very successful, as Watford narrowly missed out on automatic promotion to the Premier League and consequently were defeated at Wembley in the playoff final, following that unforgettable semi final second leg v Leicester City.

It was clear that as the 2012/13 season drew to a close, that The Championship had sussed out Zola and his side and despite 2013/14 getting off to a flyer, by December, Watford were up a creek and Gianfranco had not a clue how to reverse our fortunes. He was a gentleman, help up his hands and walked. Many said the damage was irrespirable. Watford we in freefall and were going down.


Then we were introduced to Beppe 'Who?' Sannino.

As of this moment in time, Watford FC are somehow still in with a mathematical shout of a playoff place. Watford FC are on an 11 game unbeaten home run (including the FA cup tie against Bristol City) dating back to 14th January. Only two of those 11 games have been draws.

Sannino handed us our first away win since 5th October 2013, with the recent result up at Hillsborough. There have also been encouraging away draws against now-promoted Leicester and playoff chasing Ipswich.

We went to the Etihad and dared to dream.

Of course there have been silly results. It was never set up for it to be perfect for the incoming man. The silly results have cost us but given the state of the side, particularly mentally, at the point of Zola's resignation, could we reasonably have expected much more from any head coach at this point?

The Championship is a steep learning curve for any manager or coach and will be as tough, if not tougher next season, with perhaps as many as 20 of the 24 sides having played in the top flight, in the Premiership era.

For now the days of Watford having a British Manager and a team full of British players is a distant memory. With that, where would you turn in respect of a 'saviour'?

It is being done a different way but it is a way that means we have a club that still, despite many of its key components being manufactured abroad, sits at the heart of the community and endeavours to make its fans feel part of something special.

There is clearly work to do in the transfer market (hopefully with a far more measured approach than we have seen recently) but more importantly, in keeping what we have and addressing the mentality that leads us to late disasters.

Beppe has done half a job in half a season.

He will be taking everything on board. He is learning.

I think he can do the whole job in 2014/2015.

Stability is key and my season ticket is renewed early bird style. I am jumping the gun with excitement and anticipation of what comes next (have to keep reminding myself that there is still pleasure to be found this season and a strong finish is still important, even if just to finish the season on a confident note).

I really don't mind people ripping into my positivity. At nearly 42 years of age, all the football related outrage and torment that I used to allow to flow through me, from my teens right through to my mid thirties, was just the way it was. It didn't change results. It didn't change the comings and goings.

What was, was.

I don't think I'm necessarily right.

My rosy outlook won't change anything.

What will be, will be.

I'm just happier this way.


Tweet @hoganwatford

Monday, 21 April 2014

Sun is Shining.

Good morning folks.

I do hope you have had an excellent weekend.

Clear blue sky outside. A rarity for a UK Bank Holiday Monday.

Unfortunately, I cannot make the visit to Loftus Road this afternoon, due to family commitments but I wish all my fellow fans who are making the short trip, a fantastic away day and a safe return, with three points.

I will be following via all available media, in anticipation that the encouraging performance we gave against Joey Barton et al, in the home fixture at the tail end of December (a 0-0 draw), coupled with the fact that we are now a far better team, give us the edge over The Hoops, who have been stuttering of late.

In team news, Cassetti is available for selection following his suspension. Anya and Forestieri  will probably miss out and although Sannino has mentioned changes, with Tozser being the only guaranteed starter, I can't see the back three being broken up for this game. Perhaps Pudil will come in for Riera out wide (the ex Liverpool man had been short on first team football, before he linked up with the Hornets).

Other possible rotations are Battochio for McGugan and Murray for Abdi, who could be rested.

2012/13's player of the season  has played far more minutes than we could have hoped for, following his most recent (and seemingly permanent) return. Perhaps, in what is likely to be a physical contest, caution with Almen is advisable. He has been brilliant since coming back. He'll be on the bench at the very least and will be a potent weapon at whatever point he enters the game.

Before I sign off, a quick word about Manuel Almunia. In my first post, a few days ago, I was perhaps a little harsh on him. When his head is right, he is a very decent keeper. As an ex-goalkeeper myself and with my son following his father down the same footballing path, we both have seen the replay of the brilliant reaction save from Manu against Ipswich, to stop us going 2-1 down, several times. It wasn't clear on the day, from our view in The Rookery, whether he had got a touch to push it up and off the crossbar. He of course had and it was that moment that gave us the platform to go on and win the game.

He was very effective throughout the 90 mins and although goal scorers always get the plaudits, moments like the one I mention, deserve to be held up as match winning. I hope Almunia can find continued confidence and stability, as he will save us a big task in the summer, if he does so.

Here's hoping today is Yellow!

Speak to you all again soon.


Tweet @hoganwatford

Saturday, 19 April 2014

5 Thoughts, Post Match v Ipswich. Sat 19th April 2014

Good evening to you.

A very good evening, following a fantastic 3 points for Watford FC at The Vic this afternoon.

Haven't got the time to sit here and entirely dissect what I feel was a decent performance from The Golden Boys, so I'd just like to offer up five quick thoughts (without mentioning the 'you know whats'!).

1. Tommie Hoban. After my comments in the opening article yesterday, he was everything today that I wanted him to be. He won an extremely tough, physical battle with Frank Nouble (himself young but slightly more experienced than our boy) by some distance. Absolutely brilliant and unsurprisingly called out as official man of the match by the club, at the final whistle.

2. Lewis McGugan. Never going to be blood and guts but in the current midfield, whilst remaining crafty, he's added a little bit of work rate (since coming back into the side after his injury). It's all we ever asked. Scored a deserved goal to endear himself further with the Watford faithful.

3. Mathias Ranégie. Whereas it seems Lewis has added a little endevour, I was disappointed with the big Swede this afternoon. Showed willing when the ball was to be won in the air but chased down nothing that fell lose. Needs to take a leaf out of Troy Deeney's book.

4. We did not concede a late goal today. Not unless you count the goal we conceded late in the first half. So late in the first half, in fact, that it actually went in at the start of the second half (sorry - I composed that 'joke' on the way home and it sounded far better in my head).

5. When Beppe waves, it makes me smile. Well done to The 1881(a pro-active movement I wholeheartedly endorse) and The Rookery as a whole. The atmosphere was decent and there is a buzz back round the place.

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to use the comments section and please share via Twitter and Facebook, if you feel so inclined.

I'll certainly be tuning in to The Foootball League Show later, for a re-run.

Enjoy your evening folks and again, thanks for reading.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Resilience, Focus and Bravery.

Hello and welcome.

Having previously written a couple of fairly well received articles that Vital Watford kindly shared, I thought I'd post my latest wittering via my own page and see how we go.

Out walking the mutt this morning, with the sun shining and my thoughts immediately turned to the weekend and of course Watford FC. Not only the impending fixture with Ipswich Town but as is often the way with me, to the ups, downs, the whys and what fors surrounding the season to date and visions for the future.

As my mind wandered through a myriad of scenarios of what could have been, the reoccurring theme, as to why we are not where the majority thought we would be at this stage of the season (when they were asked last summer), was that of resilience, focus and bravery (in fact, the lack thereof).

I think it is clear to many who watch, week in week out, that Beppe Sannino has done a grand job of halting and indeed reversing the tailspin we were in during the final days under Gianfrano Zola.

We have become harder to beat, particularly at home and with that, Beppe Sannino has, for me, earned a crack at a full season's assault on promotion but that will not come to fruition unless there are some changes. A little in personnel but more in attitude.

In goal, Manuel Alumina, a mentally fragile keeper throughout his career in England, had arguably the best season of his life, during 2012/13's run to Wembley and was deserving of the number 1 shirt on the opening day of the current campaign. A thoroughly decent man and a fantastic keeper on his day, 2013/14 has been a bit of a nightmare for him and it is just not feasible that a keeper making so many errors (especially at this stage of his career), can be first choice for a team aiming for promotion. If he stays it must be as second choice.

Jonathon Bond should go out on loan to a decent League One side or perhaps a Championship side with less lofty ambitions than Watford. If this happens, Watford FC must, as much as possible, make sure the loan club guarantees Bond a full season of first team football. 

I believe in Bondy and rather than make the sort of mistakes that a keeper of his age will inevitably make, in a Watford shirt, he can do it elsewhere, learn and come back to Watford to be number one, with 40 odd games at a decent level under his belt.

In the meantime, I feel that Watford should go out and get a Jussi Jaaskelainen, a Brad Friedel or a Mark Schwarzer on a 1 year deal. All keepers sitting around on the bench at their respective clubs. Keepers who are not going to impede the vision of Bond's career path. These chaps are all mentally tough, vastly experienced and leaders. Perhaps one of them would like to pick the splinters out of his arse and have one last crack at glory?

Marco Casssetti has been better at centre back than he has been at wing back this season but the fact remains that the legs are not what they were and perhaps the worry over what happens next (contract up at the end of the season and his family have not joined him in England) has, perhaps, accelerated more uncertainty into his game. Rather than cajoling, rallying and leading the back line, I have often noted him bawling out his team mates after a lapse, the arguing often continuing long after 100% focus should be back on the game. As with Manu, I have huge admiration and respect for Marco. In general, I have thoroughly enjoyed his contribution to the Watford cause but think that, as this season ends, so should his career in England.

Tommie Hoban is a young man I envisage filling the Cassetti shaped gap and more. Although appearing ungainly at times, he is strong both on the floor and in the air. He brings to mind a young Tony Adams and like Adams, he suffered a huge setback just as his career got going. For Tony, it was being ripped apart by Marco van Basten and the gang at Euro 88 and being depicted as a Donkey by the merciless tabloid press. For Tommie it's been a very long injury but one he fortunately seems fully recovered from.

Tony Adams came back from his Euro hell to captain Arsenal to the league title the very next season. If Tommie wants it enough, he can similarly take the game by the scruff of the neck and turn what appears to be a genuine natural defensive football talent, into something more.

He is a Watford captain in the making and with the mercurial Angella alongside him and with Beppe perhaps having an eye on 4-4-2 for next season, Tommie can be the rock the defence is built on. He appears a quick learner and with the likes of Fitz Hall and Lloyd Doyley still around, he has decent, no nonsense defensive role models to learn from. The defensive line needs to be braver. Tommie can hopefully lead by example.

If Watford can keep the majority of the current squad for the next campaign and naturally address the metal fragility that stems from the keeper through the heart of the defence, then the future is bright.

Communication should become less of an issue, as the Coach especially, fast-tracks his learning of English.

Signing up Daniel Tozser for at least a further season, will be a massive piece of business, given how quickly he has settled and the return of Almen Abdi...... well, it doesn't need me to tell you.

As much as I currently refuse to contemplate a Premier League side picking off our brilliant talisman, Troy Deeney, my mouth waters at the (perhaps distantly rumoured) prospect of Matěj Vydra returning with a huge point to prove, following his West Brom nightmare.

What I hope does not happen, is that we continue with the recent policy of throwing a lot of players at the head coach, hoping something sticks. Of course we must use the resources available via our relationship with Udinese and Grenada and of course via the domestic avenue but in a much more measured way.

We can hope, following this season's merry-go-round in the transfer market, that future signings are on more of a 'horses for courses' basis (rather than supermarket sweep style). Sannino seems like a guy who will speak his mind and have some influence over who comes and who goes. Which is a must, as a director of football and head coach should work together to achieve their goals. It doesn't work unless there is a happy overlap in the two roles.

It's no surprise that during Beppe's tenure, the squad has been streamlined, by way of letting players surplus to requirements go out on loan (some will not return) and results have been ok with a more settled and compact 20 odd players to pick from.

Undoubtedly, there will be comings and goings in the summer and we wait in anticipation but ultimately, the continuation of the instilling of resilience, focus and bravery into the mind-set of the available personnel, will be as key as any physical signing.

Beppe Sannino, I am not afraid to admit, has my unwavering support and I am very much looking forward to what comes next.

There! Got that off my chest.

You can also follow myself and my son, Aidan's Watford related ramblings on Twitter @hoganwatford

Wishing you all a very happy Easter and 3 points tomorrow.

Many thanks for reading and feel free to share.