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