Hornets legend inspires WIFC to first Lancashire win

WIFC recorded their first ever win in Lancashire at the weekend, as Hornets legendary goalkeeper Tony Coton stopped in to inspire the Internet ‘Orns to a 5-4 win. The game was not as close as the scoreline might suggest, though WIFC did let a 4 goal lead slip as the home side mounted a valiant comeback in the closing stages of an action packed match at Astley Park in Chorley.

It was the home side who drew first blood on a bitterly cold morning in the North West, when Alex Snape made the most of a mix-up in the visitors defence to lob keeper Tom Beck. However, debutant Alan McTavish and Richard Walker got organised at the centre of the defence, allowing the visitors to begin to dominate proceedings and it was no surprise when Rob Stone equalised from close range on 10 minutes.

Having lost Martin Owen to injury, WIFC then took control with three quickfire strikes. Having already tested the keeper, debutant Richard Everitt gave the visitors the lead on 26 minutes after being teed up by Jez Hinds, starting a game up front for the second time this season. A minute later, Mark Brennan capped a fine run from the wing with a smart finish from the edge of the area, then Paul Norgate made it three in three minutes when he beat a man on the edge of the box and blasted home his first goal for the club.

WIFC pose with Hornets legend Tony Coton after the match

The second half continued with WIFC in the ascendancy, and the lead was extended to 5-1 on 49 minutes. Man of the match Stone’s pass set Hinds free and the stand-in striker finished with aplomb for a birthday weekend goal. However, the home side finally stepped up a gear as their younger legs came to the fore and just as WIFC started to look comfortable, a long range free-kick from Adam McCullagh brought Chorley back into the game.

Galvanised by the goal, the home side poured forward as the game became stretched. On 80 minutes they further reduced the arrears with a diving header from Sean Wood, and when McCullagh added his second in the last minute, WIFC nerves became somewhat stretched. Chorley tried to mount one last assault on the visitors goal, but there were no further scares as WIFC held on for a fourth win on the bounce.

Speaking after the game, Coton was quick to praise the WIFC players, most of whom had made early starts to be there. “I don’t think I could have got up that early” said Coton. “Fair play to all the lads, they just about held on and it was good to see a few goals”.

WIFC return to action this coming Saturday with a home game against Northampton at Met Police Sports Club in Aldenham Road, with a 10am kick off.

Team, 4-4-2, R to L. Tom Beck; Brad Simmons, Alan McTavish, Richard Walker, Phil McBride; Mark Brennan, Paul Norgate, Martin Owen, Rob Stone; Jeremy Hinds, Alex Prentice. Subs Richard Everitt, Chris Gilbert-Anderson and Chris Davis.

 

 

Seven goals spare skipper’s red card shame

WIFC ran out 7-4 winners against MK Dons this weekend. In an action packed game that saw penalties at both ends and a rare IFA red card for home skipper Richard Wenham, WIFC recorded their 250th win in their 550th game since the club’s formation in 1997.

Stuart’s Nicholls and Holdham prepare to challenge for a high ball

Dons manager Matt Barnes had predicted a high-scoring encounter before the game, as the previous 5 games had seen 26 goals racked up between the teams, and the game certainly lived up to that billing. The home side scored first after just two minutes, when a Rob Sterry header was only half cleared, and Richard Murphy smashed home his first of the season from close range. MK equalised just two minutes later, when Josh Shipley rose highest to head home a free-kick.

The scoring frenzy continued in the 9th minute, when Sterry took a Matt Ainsley through ball into the area and was felled. Sterry picked himself up and dispatched the resulting spot kick high into the net. MK struck back quickly again, and proved their manager correct when Ricky Reeve fired home after a poor clearance from a corner in the 11th minute.

WIFC defend an MK corner in action packed opening to the game

The game finally developed into a more natural pattern as both defences regrouped. It took a full twenty minutes for the next goal to arrive, when Ben Pegram’s free kick was headed on by Sterry, and Murphy was on hand again to score from close range. The half ended with MK in the ascendancy, but the home side were able to keep the score at 3-2 going into the break.

WIFC’s defence regrouped after the early goalscoring spree. Nicholls, Holdham and Wenham prepare to defend a visiting goal-kick.

The second half started in the same vein for the home team at least, when Sterry extended the lead in the 48th minute with a smart, first-time finish to another through ball from man of the match Ainsley. This time, MK were unable to strike straight back, and when Pegram swung in a corner which everyone missed that curled in at the far post to make it 5-2 after 64 minutes, WIFC might have thought they had done enough.

Brad Simmons challenges for a header, watched by Stuart Nicholls

MK weren’t to be outdone though, and were quickly back in the game after a mix-up between Tom Beck and Brad Simmons left Bobby Marsh with a tap-in. Then in the 77th minute came the moment of high drama. Following an MK corner which led to a goalmouth scramble, WIFC captain Wenham decided the best course of action with the ball flying goalwards would be to launch himself across the goal and make a stunning two handed save that any keeper would be proud of. Referee Mat Ball had no choice but to brandish the red card, the first in club history in a home game, and Chris Patrickson made no mistake with the resulting spot-kick.

Wenham contemplates his moment of madness, after his red-card disgrace.

With the result back in the balance, WIFC steeled themselves to defend the lead. To their delight, they were still able to expose MK on the break, and when James Jenkins was fouled on the edge of the area on 85 minutes, Pegram stepped up to strike home the resulting free-kick for his second of the morning. WIth MK throwing men forward, a 7th goal was added with practically the last kick of the game when Murphy’s shot was parried, and last season’s top scorer Joel Moody smashed home the rebound for his first goal of the season.

James Jenkins sets up another WIFC attack

Manager Chris Davis was understandably delighted after the win, WIFC’s third in a row, after starting the season with two defeats. “I’m really pleased with the win. Another solid performance where both teams were dangerous when attacking but we were more clinical over the 90 minutes” said Davis. “After the fully deserved sending off we made a couple of tactical changes with the intention of protecting the lead while trying to catch them on the break, which we did twice”

WIFC return to action next weekend, when they travel to Lancashire for the second time this season, to take on the fans of non-league side AFC Chorley before heading to Blackburn for the Watford game that afternoon.

Team. 4-4-1-1, R to L. Tom Beck; Brad Simmons, Chris Dundon, Richard Wenham, Phil McBride; Richard Murphy, James Jenkins, Ben Pegram, Matt Ainsley; Rob Sterry; Alex Prentice. Subs Stuart Nicholls, Stuart Holdham, Andy Myall, Rob Stone, Joel Moody.

Five goal WIFC book second round berth

WIFC progressed to the second round of the IFA Challenge Cup this weekend, thanks to a 5 goal win at AFC Wimbledon B. While the scoreline appears empthatic, WIFC were made to wait until midway through the second half for the breakthrough, as the home side doggedly resisted all the Internet ‘Orns could throw at them.

The WIFC squad pose before kick-off

In a one-sided first half, home keeper Pier Barrett excelled with a series of fantastic stops, most notably from Rob Sterry, Ben Pegram and Joel Moody as the visitors looked for the opening goal. With the defence being superbly marshalled by Moz Clarke and Chris Dundon, and with Stu Holdham and James Jenkins on top in midfield, WIFC stayed on the attack for much of the half, but Barrett’s excellent shot stopping and handling prevailed, and the sides went in goalless at the break.

The hard-working James Jenkins dominated proceedings in midfield.

The second half started in much the same vein, and Barrett pulled off the save of the match to deny Sterry’s point blank header from an Andy Lewers cross. Dundon also went close with a shot that skimmed the post as the visitors searched in vain for the opening goal. A slight switch from manger Chris Davis saw Dundon move up front, with Pegram slipping back into midfield and Richard Wenham into central defence as WIFC looked to keep the pressure on the home goal.

The home side defended doggedly to keep the score at 0-0

On 71 minutes, WIFC finally made the breakthrough they deserved when Sterry was felled on the edge of the box. Having initially played an advantage, the referee pulled play back for the free kick and Sterry dusted himself down to despatch a left footed free kick into the top corner. The floodgates opened, and two minutes later Sterry prodded home with his right foot after Barrett spilled a cross. WIFC’s all-time leading scorer then completed a four minute perfect hat-trick when he headed home Dundon’s perfectly flighted cross on 75 minutes.

Rob Sterry bagged his 18th hat-trick for WIFC

With the home side tiring, WIFC were able to add more gloss to the scoreline. Firstly Pegram fired home his first of the season from the edge of the box, then Dundon won a 50/50 with Barrett and slid home his 50th WIFC goal to complete the scoring. WIFC manager Chris Davis was delighted with the team performance. “Everyone worked really hard and played some lovely football. The Wimbledon keeper kept them in the game, but everyone stayed patient and got what they deserved in the end” said Davis. WIFC now face Millwall at home in the second round, on a date to be confirmed.

Manager Davis called for patience at half-time

Team. 4-4-1-1, R to L. Jeremy Hinds; Rob Stone, Chris Dundon, Maurice Clarke, Stuart Nicholls; Andy Lewers, James Jenkins, Stuart Holdham, Joel Moody; Ben Pegram; Rob Sterry. Subs Paul Whittenbury, Richard Wenham, Brad Simmons, Phil McBride, Alex Prentice, Tom Beck.

 

First win of the season for WIFC

WIFC got their first win of the new season in a London Cup/IFA League double header at Leyton Orient on Saturday. With the result counting for two competitions, WIFC were keen to get off the mark for the season after defeats at Preston and Stevenage, and they got off to a flying start when hard-working midfielder Stuart Holdham atoned for his late miss at Stevenage when he turned in a Rob Sterry corner at the far post with just 5 minutes on the clock.

On a small pitch which made finding space difficult, the game settled into a somewhat scrappy pattern with chances at a premium. Richard Murphy might have done better with a close range effort after good work from Sterry and James Jenkins while at the other end, WIFC were struggling to cope with the quick home left winger and were indebted to a fine Jeremy Hinds save to protect the one goal lead until the break.

WIFC started the second half brightly, and were able to double their lead when Sterry’s through ball sent Martin Pollard through on goal and the veteran, back on as a striker, coolly lobbed the home keeper for his first goal of the season. Orient continued to defend doggedly but with Holdham and Jenkins dominating in midfield, WIFC started to create more chances and it was no surprise when Andy Myall finished a goalmouth scramble for his second in two games. The scoring was completed when Matt Ainsley sent Murphy clear, and his goalbound effort was turned in by a home defender.

Manager Chris Davis was delighted with the win, which sets up a winner takes all London Cup group game against AFC Wimbledon A next month and gets the league points tally up and running. “It was hard work due to the pitch and a decent Leyton Orient side” said Davis. “Defensively we looked solid, full marks to Jez on his clean sheet, and the midfield was creative and well marshalled by Stu and James especially. Despite the fact we again didn’t have a recognised striker for much of the game, we always looked dangerous going forward and could have scored more than 4”.

Next week sees a fourth away game on the spin for WIFC, as they take on AFC Wimbledon B in an IFA Cup tie. Having been knocked out in the first round last season, WIFC will be hoping to progress in the national cup competition.

Team. 4-4-1-1, R to L. Jeremy Hinds; Phil McBride (C), Maurice Clarke, Martin Pollard, Matt Ainsley; Ed Sterry, Stu Holdham, Rob Sterry, James Jenkins; Richard Murphy; Andy Lewers. Subs Brad Simmons, Richard Wenham, Andy Myall, Rob Stone, Dave Messenger.

96. Simon Jones

Position – Right Midfield
DOB – 4/12/1973
Apps – 7
Goals – 0
Worldnets – 1
Debut v Ipswich – Mar 2012
Nicknames – Jonesy

Winger Simon made his WIFC bow against Ipswich on a day when WIFC fielded two sides, having replied to an appeal on twitter. A skillful winger by trade, Simon went on to appear in the Supporters Direct tournament at the end of the 2011/12 season, and also made his Worldnet bow with appearances for the Vets team. He also did a mean Tom Jones for his Worldnet debut song.

47. Frank Smith

Position – Centre Midfield
DOB – 9/4/1988
Apps – 15
Goals – 1
Worldnets – 1
Debut v Coventry – April 2011
Nicknames – Franco

The Watford Observer’s chief WFC reporter, Frank made his WIFC bow in a close win at Coventry in April 2011, earning a man of the match award with a super show at centre half. Equally at home in central midfield, Frank joined the full squad for 2011/12, scored his first goal from close range against AFC Wimbledon and became a key player in the run to the London Cup Final. Injury at his debut WorldNET later in 2012 ruled Frank out for over a year, but hopes of a 2013/14 comeback are high.

Frank’s Q and A

Describe yourself in a sentence
WIFC’s own Ledley King. Was an energetic box-to-box midfielder with a soft spot for a 50-50 and 25-yard free kicks … two years ago. Have subsequently lost my left ankle, knee ligaments, groin and the majority of my lower back. Last seen on a football pitch in July 2012 hobbling around at centre half.

What was the first WFC game you went to and what can you remember about it?
October 1994. Tottenham 2 Watford 3. Memories? None. Can’t remember what happened in Saturday’s game, let alone 18 years ago.

Finest ever WFC memory
June 29 2012.

Worst away trip and why
Crystal Palace. Press food non-existent and facilities worse than Vicarage Road. Plus it’s a bastard to get to. Would rather go to Burnley. It’s all about the press food people.

WIFC playing highlight
My debut away to Coventry. It took me 24 years but I finally fulfilled my dream of playing for WIFC. It was everything I had hoped for and more. Even Dave’s molesting wasn’t as rough as I had feared, or heard.

Favourite WIFC moment
Running the length of the pitch against Leeds, beating 27 players on route. The fact I put it over the bar from 18 yards at the end of the mesmeric run is an irrelevant detail.

All-time favourite Watford player
Lloyd Doyley

All-time favourite Watford XI (not the best players – your favourites)
Alec Chamberlain; Lloyd Doyley , Steve Palmer, Clarke Carlisle, Paul Robinson; Ashley Young, John Eustace, Tom Cleverley, Adam Johnson; Danny Graham, Heidar Helguson

Red shorts or black?
Red

Which actor would play you in ‘WIFC – The Movie’
Michael Clarke Duncan (John Coffey)

 

46. Maurice Clarke

Position – Centre Back/Centre Midfield
DOB – TBC
Apps – 66
Goals – 3
Debut v West Ham – Mar 2012
Worldnets – 3
Nicknames – Mozzer, Moz

Moz was a late starter in WIFC terms and almost certainly became it’s oldest ever debutant when making his bow at West Ham aged 45. Having joined the full squad for 2012/13, Moz’s pre-match warm-ups are already the stuff of WIFC legend and his leadership on the pitch has been immense, on no occasion more than the London Cup Final in 2013, when Moz was skipper and man of the match as WIFC secured the trophy. Now player/assistant manager as injuries finally take their toll on the old warhorse, Moz is a hugely influential and important figure in the club.

Moz’s Q and A

Describe yourself in a sentence
Space Cowboy, Gangster of Love

What was the first WFC game you went to and what can you remember about it?
West Ham away last season. It was cold and we had a scratch team (no offense). I remember West ham trying to kill our keeper, who we borrowed from them. mates eh!? I also remember having a fantastic first 5 minutes. it all went rapidly down hill after that, but since I hadn’t played any kind of 11 a side footie since 2001, i was pretty pleased at the end of it. Could walk for 10 days after though.

Finest ever WFC memory
Getting the arm band at Preston. That was a nice surprise.

Worst away trip and why
Palace, every time. Yet to see us win there. Wimbledon, Charlton, Palace. makes no difference. That place is not kind to me. Went there once on my motorbike. They wouldn’t let me in with the helmet. sent me to the front office to put it in there, but directed me down the road past Tescos. i got into the ground five minutes before half time. Effing Ceees!

WIFC playing highlight
So far its that fact that we have yet to concede when I have played at center back. I have just hexed myself haven’t I? (yes – Ed)

Favourite WIFC moment
The skipper thing, and Stu H’s last minute miss against Stevenage. Classic.

All-time favourite Watford player
Tony Coton

All-time favourite Watford XI (not the best players – your favourites)
Coton, Gibbs, Rostron, McClelland, Terry, Callaghan, Ramage, Hyde, Barnes, Graham, Blissett

Red shorts or black?
Black actually

Which actor would play you in ‘WIFC – The Movie’
Idris Elba

33. Andy Lewers

Position – Right Wing
DOB – 1/12/1992
Apps – 15
Goals – 3
Debut v Coventry – Mar 2012
Worldnets – 0
Nicknames – None yet

Speedy right winger Andy announced himself to WIFC with a bang, setting up a goal with his first touch on his debut as a half-time substitute in a win against Coventry in March 2012. Quiet off the pitch, despite his prolific tweeting, Andy joined the full squad for the start of the 2012/13 season during which he notched his first goal for the club against West Ham. He added another in the Vic Road match, and was a playing sub in both London Cup Finals played by WIFC.

Andy’s Q and A

Describe yourself in a sentence

I’m not the most imaginative of people.

What was the first WFC game you went to and what can you remember about it?

Watford vs my childhood team Newcastle United on 20th November 1999. It was an early birthday present from my parents, as Alan Shearer was my hero when I was growing up, so they took me along to see him play. I remember sitting in The Rookery wearing my Newcastle shirt and celebrating when The Toon scored. It was 1-1 at full time, but unfortunately Shearer didn’t score.

Finest ever WFC memory

The Championship Playoff Final on 21st May 2006, only Lloyd Doyley’s goal comes close to beating that day.

Worst away trip and why

It has to be away to Hull in the 11/12 season. I had to wake up at 4:30am, it was bloody freezing, Watford lost in the last minute and my night out in Hull afterwards was awful, such a dire place to be when you’re pissed off.

WIFC playing highlight

Has to be making an appearance for Watford in the London Cup final against West Ham, having only played three games beforehand.

Favourite WIFC moment

Getting an assist with my first ever touch on my debut.

All-time favourite Watford player

Easy question this – Heidar Helguson

All-time favourite Watford XI (not the best players – your favourites)

Foster; Doyley, Mariappa, DeMerit, Robinson; Young, Eustace, Mahon, Wooter; Helguson, Graham

Red shorts or black?

Black, red doesn’t suit me.

Which actor would play you in ‘WIFC – The Movie’

Hmm, tricky one this. Probably Daniel Radcliffe, in the hope that he could introduce me to Emma Watson.

19. Ben Pegram

Position – Centre Midfield
DOB – 19/4/1992
Apps – 50
Goals –  15
Debut v Dagenham & Redbridge – May 2012
Worldnets – 1
Nicknames – None, but he does have a lot of shit tattoos

Midfielder Ben joined the full squad for the start of the 2012/13 season, during which he was an intern in the sports science department at Vicarage Road. Ask him about being set up for a goal by Gianfranco Zola in a staff match, if you dare. Ben made his debut in the closing stages of the previous season and impressed with his passing in a win at Dagenham. Since then, Ben has become another versatile member of the squad, appearing regularly at left-back in recent times.

Ben’s Q and A

Describe yourself in a sentence
“Eat football, drink football, sleep football…but, now, if only i could play football?”

What was the first WFC game you went to and what can you remember about it?
Sitting behind a pillar at the old Wembley as we beat Bolton 2-0 in the Playoff Final! Nicky Wright slinging in a overhead kick before disappearing off the face of the world and Tommy Mooney being a clown with the cup on his head! Also ensuring that when I went home the tapped version ofthe match did not contain the two streakers on the pitch as at that age I felt it highly inappropriate for someone to being ruining a match with their bare nakedness!

Finest ever WFC memory
Being told by Leeds fans that we are a disgrace to football as we walked to the sold out Millenium Stadium to witness the Golden Boys tear apart Leeds with James Chambers expetionally well placed with perfect spin!

Worst away trip and why
Accepting tickets from a Chelsea friend in the home stand for the league cup and sitting amongst their skinheads next to a father and son who had decided to wear Watford shirts, plus getting turned over quite badly out on the pitch.

WIFC playing highlight
Being able to pull on the Golden Jersey and walk out for my debut against Dagenham amongst a whole team of other Watford loyals!

Favourite WIFC moment
By far the best save I have ever witnessed from our centre back, captain, and ‘Mr. Watford’ to earn himself a red card, requiring nerves of steel from the whole team until I tucked away the free kick that steadied the ship!

All-time favourite Watford player
Tommy Mooney

All-time favourite Watford XI (not the best players – your favourites)
Ben Foster; Llloyd Doyley, Steve Palmer, Robert Page, Paul Robinson; Tommy Smith, Nordin Wooter, Micah Hyde, Ashley Young; Heidar Helguson, Tommy Mooney.

Red shorts or black?
Black

Which actor would play you in ‘WIFC – The Movie’
Gerard Butler – ‘This. Is. WATFORD!’

1. Richard Walker

Position – Goalkeeper
DOB – 16/4/1973
Apps – 100
Goals – 10
Debut v Arsenal – Oct 2001
Worldnets – 5
Nicknames – Frank, The Music Man

Shouty goalie and current team manager Rich regularly bursts the eardrums of his team-mates when he appears, and not even strikers are safe as Scott Mathers can testify. Behind the bluster beats the heart of a fiercely competitive maniac, hell bent on stopping whatever opponents can throw at him. Rich is also the creative genius behind The Music Man songs at Worldnet, where he often leads the whole team in a rendition of the old classic.

Rich’s Q and A

Describe yourself in a sentence
I am a highly-combustible, highly-competitive goalkeeper, or central midfielder if duty calls, who loves seeing team-mates give their best at all times.

What was the first WFC game you went to and what can you remember about it?
It was a 1-0 win over Exeter City in October 1978. “LUTHER”, as the scoreboard used to say (full names for everyone else), scored the goal and the two things I remember most were the feeling of excitement I got when Z-Cars was played and the smell of pipe / cigar tobacco wafting around the Vicarage Road terrace. I stood on a stool my Dad built, which had ‘Up The Hornets’ written on it in indelible pen, just to the east side of the scoreboard with a crush barrier to lean on.

Finest ever WFC memory
The moment the second goal went in at Wembley in 1999. That win actually led me to work for the club, given the demands of the Premier League. But that moment when Allan Smart scored, time stood still and I just cried uncontrollably for about five minutes. So unexpected, so magical, hard to think we’ll ever repeat that feeling (even if the same result is achieved at any time).

Worst away trip and why
Coming back from Fulham, Christmas 2000. Any lingering thoughts of us reviving our early-season form were buried that day.

WIFC playing highlight
My first Worldnet in 2001 – I had one of my best-ever performances, including all levels of football I’ve played in over the years, against eventual winners Middlesbrough when I was the ‘B Team Keeper’ for the weekend.

Favourite WIFC moment
It’s always the hush that descends when i start up The Music Man at WorldNet!

All-time favourite Watford player
Goalkeeper: Tony Coton. Outfield player: Gary Porter.

All-time favourite Watford XI (not the best players – your favourites)
1 Tony Coton, 2 Nigel Gibbs, 3 Keith Dublin, 4 Craig Ramage, 5 Colin Foster, 6 John McClelland, 7 David Bardsley, 8 Luther Blissett, 9 Paul Wilkinson, 10 Gary Porter, 11 Ronny Rosenthal.

Red shorts or black?
Red. Successful times.

Which actor would play you in ‘WIFC – The Movie’
Vinnie Jones. Mad.