Nicholls quick fire treble sets up win

Watford IFCs first home game of 2016/17 took place on a gloriously hot and sunny Saturday morning at Parmiters School. Coming off the back of an opening day win at Southampton, the Internet ‘Orns were instructed to keep the ball on the floor and pass to feet throughout the game after a lack of height and speed were identified in the pre match team talk by management.

Stuart Nicholls got the home side off to a flier as they raced into a 3-0 lead within the first 15 minutes. Nicholls’ first was a neat volley from 5 yards from a Cleveland Brandy cross, then minutes later he collected a ball from Man of the match Ben Kelly and stroked the ball into the bottom corner from 20 yards. Nicholls then rounded off his second treble for the club from close range, following a defensive mishap.

The first half continued with WIFC pressing and hitting the post on 2 occasions through Nicholls and Charlie Wood. A lapse in defence then allowed Cambridge to score as a poor goal kick was followed a misplaced pass out of defence and minutes later an own goal from keeper Tom Beck reduced the deficit further. The end of the first half was frenetic with the visitors seizing the initiative and pushing for an equaliser. For all their pressing this didn’t happen and the 2 goal advantage was restored when Kelly ran half the length of the pitch before smashing home from the angle inside the box.

A reshuffle of personnel gave WIFC joy down the wings with both fullbacks pushing up and joining attacks as the second half got underway. Wood was the beneficiary of such play and finished his second goal of the new season from close range following good work from Richard Murphy and Ed Sterry, in his 100th appearance for the club. A sixth came soon after, converted by John Sitowski who got the final touch off a drive from Murphy following penalty box pin ball for his second goal for the club.

Nicholls then added his 4th and beat his tally for last season inside a game. After chasing down Cambridge’s tiring defence, his resulting cross to Wood was blocked and he duly slotted home the rebound. The goal of the game was left until last when Dave Sitowski, playing higher up the pitch than his usual defensive berth, collected a cross from deep and smashed home from the edge of the box with the outside of the foot.

In the end, a convincing win for the Internet ‘Orns and a 100% start to take into tough away games at Stevenage and West Ham. There was also a welcome return for Matt Ladell after more than a year out through injury and a promising debut for Phil Winwright.

Team: Tom Beck; Dave Sitowski, Paul Watt, Dan Butterick, Ben Pegram; Cleveland Brandy, John Sitowski, Ben Kelly, Richard Murphy; Charlie Wood, Stuart Nicholls (C)

Subs: Matt Ladell, Ed Sterry, Phil Winwright

15/16 Award Winners confirmed

LAST Saturday evening saw the usual high jinks and singing as WIFC took over the Ali Baba curry house to dish out the 15/16 award winners. The full list of winners is below. As the Hall of Fame winner was not present, this will be announced in due course.

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PLAYERS PLAYER
1 Dan Butterick
2 Mark O’Connor
3 Ally Hill

MANAGERS PLAYER
Matt Ainsley

BEST NEWCOMER
1 Mark O’Connor
2 Charlie Wood
3 Tommy Twelves

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER
1 Ben Pegram
2 Tom Beck
3 Matt Ainsley

CLUBMAN
1 Tom Beck
2 Maurice Clarke
3 Richard Walker

INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE
1 Maurice Clarke at St Johnstone

HALL OF FAME
TBC

 

Nine nominated for top award

VOTING for the 2015/16 WIFC awards is now closed and the votes have now been counted. Nine different players were nominated for the coveted Players Player award, which will be dished out along with several other gongs this Saturday evening. The Ali Baba curry house, the traditional venue for the WIFC awards night, are bracing themselves for another evening of food, singing and general merry making. It’s not too late to join the evening’s festivities, a thread on the Facebook group page has all the details.

curry

A full list of the nominations is below.

PLAYERS PLAYER
Ally Hill
Ben Pegram
Charlie Wood
Dan Butterick
Mark O’Connor
Matt Ainsley
Ross Connor
Stuart Nicholls
Tommy Twelves

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER
Ben Pegram
Brad Simmons
Dave Sitkowski
Ed Sterry
Jon Sitkowski
Matt Ainsley
Matt Wells
Stuart Nicholls
Tom Beck

CLUBMAN
Dave Messenger
Maurice Clarke
Richard Walker
Stuart Nicholls
Tom Beck

BEST NEWCOMER
Charlie Wood
Cleveland Brandy
Connor Church
Lamar St Cyr
Mark O’Connor
Tommy Twelves

INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE OF THE SEASON (nominated and voted for by the management team)
Ally Hill v Ayr (H)
Charlie Wood v West Ham (A)
Lamar St Cyr v Rochdale (N)
Mark O’Connor v West Ham (A)
Maurice Clarke v St Johnstone (A)
Richard Walker v St Johnstone (A)
Tommy Twelves v St Johnstone (A)

MOST APPEARANCES
Dan Butterick

Hall of Fame (voted by those already in the hall of fame) and Managers Player of the year will also be awarded on the night.

 

Solid start for WIFC

WIFC got their 2016/17 season off on the right foot with a hard working 3-2 win on the south coast on Saturday morning. Stand-in manager Dave Messenger successfully rotated a 17 man squad and every player contributed to the win against a competitive Southampton side.

The visitors opened the scoring early on, as man of the match Charlie Wood collected a pass from Mark O’Connor and finished calmly. The Saints were back on terms shortly afterwards but Richard Murphy rounded the home keeper on the half hour mark to re-take the lead. After the break, Stuart Nicholls crashed home a third from a half-cleared corner, though he later put through his own net to give Southampton a lifeline. Some solid defending saw WIFC hang on for the win and complete a deserved win.

Team. 4-4-2, R to L. Neil Hall; Cleveland Brandy, John Sitkowski, Ben Bateman, Matt Ainsley; Richard Murphy, Ally Hill, Charlie Wood, Lamar St Cyr; Steve Eustice, Mark O’Connor. Subs Rob Sterry, Stuart Nicholls, James Farnfield, Andrew Ibbot, Phil McBride, Tom Beck.

Penalty heartache for Internet ‘Orns

WIFC made it to the Quarter-Finals of the WorldNET Cup at the weekend, as the Internet ‘Orns made their long awaited return to the open age version of the end of season IFA tournament.

Having travelled to Preston with a 16 man squad, including a last minute loan of goalkeepers Lewis Duxbury and Neil Crossley from Bury A, expectations of qualifying from a tough looking group were not high. The first half against London Cup holders Stevenage quickly dispelled any lowly ambitions as WIFC raced to a 2-0 lead against their Herts neighbours. Goals from Tommy Twelves and Dave Soloway got the weekend’s football off to a flier.

The second game was a tighter affair. With both sides wary of Lens’ electric start to the group, defeat could have been costly. In a game of few chances WIFC were dealt a blow as centre half Ally Hill was red carded for a bit of industrial language aimed at the referee, but the Internet ‘Orns defended well to hold on for a hard earned 0-0 draw and valuable point.

Captain Stu Nicholls lines up with his Manchester United counterpart

Captain Stu Nicholls lines up with his Manchester United counterpart, along with the targets of Ally Hill’s potty mouth..

Next up was, on paper, the toughest match against the mercurial French team RC Lens, twice winners of the event. With Hill suspended, management duo Moz Clarke and Chris Davis employed a christmas tree formation and Lens struggled to break down a resolute WIFC. Tommy Twelves opened the scoring before Lens equalised with one of their few chances. However, a scorching left foot volley from just outside the area by Connor Church with the last kick of the match earned a memorable 2-1 win in the two team’s long awaited first ever meeting.

WIFC and Lens finally meet..

WIFC and Lens finally meet on the pitch..

A win in the last game against 2013 & 14 winners Halifax would see WIFC top the group. Having lost all three matches heavily in uncharacteristic fashion, the Yorkshire side were in no mood to end the day empty handed and with WIFC possibly still having half a mind on the events of the Lens game, Halifax won 2-1 despite a 3rd goal in 4 games from Tommy Twelves.

Full of energy as ever, Ben Kelly harries a Halifax player

Full of energy as ever, Ben Kelly harries a Halifax player

The defeat did not prove too costly. Finishing with one of the best records of the second placed teams in each group, WIFC were seeded for the Sunday draw, meaning they would avoid the various group winners. A tie with Sheffield United kicked off the Sunday action and WIFC produced a dominant 30 minutes. A host of chances went begging and the Golden Boys should have had more than just a Ross Connor goal to show for their efforts.

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Aerial action shot from the 1-0 win against Sheffield United

For just the 4th time in WIFC’s history, the Quarter-Finals of WorldNET had been reached and a first ever meeting with Runcorn Linnets awaited. With injuries starting to mount and an opposition packed with younger players, a brave and determined display from WIFC saw scores level at 0-0 after 30 minutes. Chances came and went for both sides in the extra time period, meaning penalties would decide who would face Preston in the semi-final. It wasn’t to be, as misses from Tommy Twelves and Connor Church handed a 4-2 win to the young Runcorn side.

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WIFC and Runcorn Linnets await the penalty shoot-out

Despite that disappointment, the team were able to leave with heads held high and with a renewed enthusiasm for the open age WorldNET tournament. Most importantly, the social side of the club was as strong as ever as new friendships were cemented during a typically liquid-based Saturday evening. The two WorldNET 2017 tournaments can’t come quickly enough.

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Manager Moz Clarke rallies the troops on the Sunday morning

SQUAD:
Lewis Duxbury, Neil Crossley, Matt Ainsley, Phil McBride, Ben Pegram, Ben Smith, Dan Butterick, Ally Hill, Stuart Nicholls (C), Ben Kelly, Ross Connor, Connor Church, Dave Soloway, Ben Sheldon, Tommy Twelves, Liam McGarry.

WIFC set for WorldNET main draw return

WIFC make their eagerly awaited return to the open-age WorldNET tournament, with their first trip to the IFA’s blue riband event since 2012 this weekend. While the Vets team has flown the Internet ‘Orns flag at the Big Tam Vets tournament in the interim years, returning to the main draw has been on the club’s agenda for the last two years. With the tournament having moved to Preston, a new experience awaits the 16 man squad.

In a shot that echoes through the years, WIFC regroup between matches at WorldNET 2012.

In a shot that echoes through the years, WIFC regroup between matches at WorldNET 2012.

The draw has placed WIFC in a tough group for their return, with previous WorldNET winners Halifax and RC Lens joined by this season’s London Cup winners Stevenage and a competitive Manchester United side. With the first group match kicking off at 12, all eyes will be on WIFC as they attempt to improve on a round of 16 outing in their last trip to the main WorldNET.

Equally as important as the football itself, WIFC have always maintained a healthy tradition of enjoying a good night out after the Saturday group games. Some memorable moments down the years are sure to be added to during the trip.

You can follow the team’s progress by following @watford_ifc on twitter.

WIFC’s fulll record from 19 years of WOrldNET participation is below;

YEAR A TEAM
1997 Round of 16
1998 Round of 32
1999 Round of 32
2000 Plate Semi Finals
2001 Round of 32
2002 Round of 16
2003 Quarter Finals
2004 Round of 16
2005 Round of 32
2006 Round of 16
2007 Round of 16
2008 Runners-Up
2009 Round of 32
2010 Round of 32
2011 Quarter Finals
2012 Round of 16
2013-15 Did not enter

YEAR B TEAM
2002 Plate Round of 32
2003 Plate Round of 32
2004 Plate Round of 32
2005 Plate Round of 16
2006 Plate Round of 32
2007 Round of 32
2008 Round of 32
2009 Round of 32

YEAR VETS
2010 Round of 16
2011 Quarter Finals
2012 Round of 16
2013 Qualifying Round
2014 Quarter Finals
2015 Round of 16

Hammers hit for six of the best

WATFORD IFC produced an almost perfect all-round performance – certainly matching any of this season’s cup exploits – to put six unanswered goals past West Ham IFC in east London.

So often having had to play second fiddle to the Hammers’ fans team in recent seasons, the Hornets erased the memory of several painful trips to Flanders Field with a fully-deserved victory inspired by a lethal exhibition of finishing from five-goal Mark O’Connor.

But a gritty rear-guard action perfectly complemented the goalscoring exploits, shackling the usually potent West Ham forwards and minimising clear-cut chances given up.

A fairly even first half saw Rob Sterry miss two great chances before O’Connor profited from Hammers’ defensive indecision to round the keeper and slot home from the corner of the six-yard box.

And it was two on the stroke of half-time when, from a corner, the ball pinballed around at close-range before O’Connor poked home.

The hosts pinned Watford back for a 15-minute spell early into the second period, and player-manager Richard Walker was at his best in denying the Irons a route back into the game with a plunging low save from a headed-on long throw.

Preserving the two-goal lead meant a third Hornets’ goal would kill the game and it was Sterry – atoning for earlier misses – who was Johnny-on-the-spot in the box to provide it.

O’Connor swept home for his hat-trick before producing the best of his five finishes with a crisp half-volley from a near-impossible angle close to the byeline.

Such was Watford’s dominance, they had the ball in the West Ham area often enough as the game wound down to see a clearance hit O’Connor and rebound in for a sixth Hornets’ goal and a 16th goal of the season for the young striker.

There were stand-out performances all over the pitch – debutant Adam Gallichan impressed in central midfield  – but only one candidate for ‘Man of the Match’: hotshot Mark ‘Junior’ O’Connor with his nap hand.

Team: Walker, E Sterry, Bateman, Butterick, Nicholls, Pegram, Gallichan, Holdham, Murphy, Wood, O’Connor, R Sterry. Sub not used: Clarke.

Heroic Hornets Beat Saints To Reach Cup Semi-Final

WATFORD IFC reached the IFA National Cup semi-finals for only the third in the club’s history with a gutsy 3-1 triumph away to St Johnstone in Kinross.

The two teams prior to kick-off

The two teams prior to kick-off

Blustery and wet conditions greeted the Internet ‘Orns as they journeyed north after a night out in Edinburgh the previous evening.

After the first quarter of an hour, which saw both teams probing for a first key opening, the game broke into life when a long drop-kick from player-manager Richard Walker in goal cleared the Saints’ defenders’ heads and allowed Tommy Twelves to expertly lob home on the run.

The Watford forward scored another almost immediately – and this was all his own work. Having chased a ball into the left channel, options looked limited but Twelves set his sights on goal and let fly with a fizzing half-volley from a tight angle which ripped across the keeper and into the roof of the St Johnstone net.

But rather than having the luxury of preserving a two-goal lead in the second half, it was the protection of a one-goal advantage that became key after Watford let in a soft goal at a corner just before the break.

And it was all hands to the pump in the Hornets’ box with some remarkably determined defending from the likes of Cleveland Brandy, Matt Ainsley and player-coach Maurice Clarke during several spells of Saints’ pressure.

Walker was everywhere inside the six-yard box, collecting or punching cross after cross interspersed with a couple of fine reaction saves.

And this team display of defensive belligerence meant that a third Watford goal would likely kill the tie.

It came no more than 10 minutes from time. Tireless work from Lamar St-cyr,  paired up front later in the game with ‘Man of the Match’ Twelves, helped work an opening for Ben Pegram who slotted home with a low finish inside the near post.

The woodwork was tested at both ends as the sides traded late blows in search of that coveted last-four place, but it was the Internet ‘Orns who capped a superb trip north of the border to set up a semi-final tie against Rochdale.

Preston B or Livingston GS will play for the right to face the winners at the IFA National Cup Final.

Squad: Walker, Brandy, Ainsley, Clarke, Stone, Simmons, Pegram, Nicholls, Booth, Murphy, St-Cyr, Twelves. Sub not used: Beck.

On the march with Walker’s army

WIFC are making final preparations for their trip north of the border to face PSJ Saints, the St Johnstone fans team, in the quarter-finals of the IFA national cup tomorrow. It’s been 8 years since the Internet ‘Orns have visited Scotland, which has always been a hotbed of IFA football. As the intrepid group try to figure out how to get deodorant onto a plane, we bring you a rough guide on what to expect from the game and the travelling party..

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The Opposition
Long standing members of the IFA, PSJ currently sit halfway in the Scottish League table, though they have plenty of games in hand on the sides above them. While playing new teams is always a trip into the unknown, 7 wins from their 12 league games, a 12-4 win against Cambridge in round one and 24 goals so far this season for leading scorer Dale Walker suggest a tough task ahead for the Internet ‘Orns, in what is the first ever meeting between the sides.

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The Plan
Flying up on Friday afternoon, the squad will not quite be enjoying the same type of aircraft as the big boys but are sure to avail of the facilities at the airport, With a night out in Edinburgh planned, much depends on how the hangovers are for the match on Saturday morning.. just as one would expect on a WIFC trip away. Singing voices at the ready..

The Squad
A great mixture of newer players taking their first tentative steps onto a WIFC away trip and old slags to lead the way..

Matt Ainsley
Apps 213, Goals 12
Now firmly in the veteran category at 43. Will be at the centre of any night out fuck-wittery. Keep him away from sambuca and straws, and don’t take up his invites for a punching competition.
Tom Beck
Apps 66, Goals 1
Fixtures guru, fan of obscure bands and German football. Most likely to be found trying to steer his team-mates away from rough women.
Rob Booth
Apps 0
Debutant, having long been badgered to play by manager and best-mate Richard Walker. A company director, WFC Season ticket holder and all round good bloke who likes to avoid tackling these days.
Cleveland Brandy
Apps 6, Goals 1
One of 4 in their first full seasons with the club. Avid collector of nicknames, C-Dog will wear white socks on the night out and look uncannily like a young Trevor McDonald.
Richard Murphy
Apps 271, Goals 64
Ahhh Murphy, you crazy old goat… my brief here is to write a ‘what to expect’ sentence or two for all players. 13 years since his debut and I’m still utterly unable to predict. Apart from stepovers. And unicorn noises.
Stuart Nicholls
Apps 101, Goals 30
A massive disappointment to all who know him. Can play anywhere on the pitch with equal ineffectiveness. Great bloke, huge nose. Will dress appallingly for the night out.
Ben Pegram
Apps 35, Goals 10
Yes, Ben. Just the 10 goals. Another top bloke with terrible dress sense. Won’t pass the ball and will probably shoot instead, even if playing at full-back.
Lamar St-Cyr
Apps 6, Goals 2
2nd of the first season wonders. Much like his mentor Cleveland, highly likely to wear white socks on the night out. Quiet and quick
Brad Simmons
Apps 50, Goals 2
Sole representative of the 1881 in WIFC ranks, so will be expected to lead the singing. Teen-wolf lookalike, will reliably try and pull anything that moves. If he fell into a bucket of tits, he’d come out sucking his thumb.
Rob Stone
App 51, Goals 2
Injured all season but coming back just at the right time. Meeting us up there, so rumours of a bad case of bird may prove unfounded after all. Looks like Bale. Gareth, not Christian.
Tommy Twelves
Apps 3, Goals 1
Another of the first season boys. Best name in WIFC history. Wears a Watford shirt to work under his clothes and probably will on the night out. Terrible hair.
Charlie Wood
Apps 13, Goals 7
4th of the first seasoners. Has flown under the radar banter-wise, your reporter hopes to see that change this weekend. Lots of middle names.
Maurice Clarke – Player/Coach
Apps 63, Goals 3
Absolute legend and still a powerhouse on the pitch in his late 40s. Drunk Lemsip and Rum throughout recent trip to Sunderland. Will be the best dressed and best dancer on the night out, as always.
Richard Walker – Player/Manager
Apps 94, Goals 10
Gaffer. Shouty. Ebullient. Just some of the words to describe Rich. Will wear flat cap on night out and channel his inner Chas and Dave. Two more words – Music Man. Be ready!
Chris Davis – Transport Logistics Officer
Apps 16, Goals 3
Former manager, led WIFC to London Cup glory in 2013. Club treasurer and huge influence on the club. Will bore your tits off talking about some game v Dulwich in the dim and distant.
Dave Messenger – Media Officer
Apps 166, Goals 2
Non-player, walking a marathon on Tuesday (justgiving.com/david-messenger1) Arguably the most important figure in WIFC history. Undisputedly club’s best looking player ever. Modest. Will fall asleep in the nightclub or a curry.

 

Late equaliser extends unbeaten run

ON a cold and blustery morning in south west London, WIFC fought out a respectable 3-3 draw with AFC Wimbledon and extended their unbeaten run against the hosts A team to 13 games. A waterlogged pitch resulted in a last minute venue change, which saw the game played in the leafy London suburb of Barnes.
The strong wind and difficult pitched caused the Internet ‘Orns problems from the off, as the home side gradually took control of the first half. Despite being on the back foot, Watford defended will and protected stand in keeper Michael De Crescenzo from most of the direct action. Wimbledon used the conditions well and surprisingly proving to be a significant aerial threat. They caused problems from each of their numerous free kicks and corners, and it was of no surprise when they finally found the net late in the half.
Up until then the visitors, deployed a 3-5-2 formation, had found possession in the opposing half difficult. As we have seen before conceding a goal caused an immediate reaction, and the equaliser came within 5 minutes. A long throw from Ben Pegram caused havoc in the Dons penalty area, and Mark O’Connor was on the spot to drill home his 11th goal of the season.
Watford started the second well. Now on the front foot and closing down the opposition higher up the field, it was Wimbledon ‘s turn to struggle in possession. It took less than 10 minutes to take the lead as O’Connor picked the centre half’s pocket just over the halfway line and carried the ball to the edge of the box. In a two on one situation, he found his strike partner Joel Moody, who slipped it past the goalkeeper to put the golden boys in front.
In full control now, Watford threatened but were unable to add to the score. However concentration seemed to wander, and Wimbledon came back into the game. They equalised after their aerial dominance returned, netting from a rebound after heading against the bar. Then with 15 to go, they took the lead again following a mix up between De-Crescenzo and Ben Bateman, the latter getting the final touch to a low cross.
Going all out for and equaliser, Watford regained their previous dominance but could not find the net. With seconds to go, Pegram’s corner was knocked back into the 6 yard box by late substitute Moz Clarke, and touched home by Charlie Wood. There was only enough time to kick off before the final whistle went.
It was not one of our most fluent performances, but there was plenty of grit against good opponents. A draw was fair for both sides in the end and a return fixture later in the season would be an entertaining watch.
Team. 3-5-2, R to L
Mike De-Crescenzo; John Sitkowski, Ally Hill, Ben Bateman; Cleveland Brandy, Charlie Wood, Stuart Nicholls, Richard Murphy, Ben Pegram; Joel Moody, Mark O’Connor. Subs Dave Sitkowski, Moz Clarke.