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Wake up to rain all morning! We are all pleased as the day before it was very hot and I much prefer playing in the rain. It clears up by the time we go to the stadium and we are pleasantly surprised at how good Stoke's pitch is. The first half is very quiet for me personally. We are more than holding our own and feel at half time the game is there for us to win.
The supporters are making a big difference - we can hear the drum and "yellow army" chants throughout the first half - so many had travelled too. Brilliant. Second half was more end to end without ever being a classic!! H pops up again with another invaluable goal and we defend solidly without too many scares. The final whistle and we have done it!! We all salute the crowd and everybody is delighted when we get back into the dressing room.
Jane and the children had come up to watch the game so I did not go back on the team coach but went to visit my good pal Ian Cranson and his family (please note his article on the website), who I have known for years, having played with him at the very start of my career at Ipswich, way back in 1981 (bet some of you weren't even born then eh?!). Had a nice evening with the Cransons and then got back home about midnight. The end of a long, but successful day!
Back in training for the Stoke game. There are going to be a few changes in the team this week as Chris Eagles has gone back to Man Utd and Danny Cullip is available again. We work on the team over these 2 days and travel up to the Stoke area on Friday to prepare professionally for this important match.
Reflected on the game and what we did well and things that still need working on. Training ground nearly flooded by monsoon style rain!! Got some work done on Tuesday and off on Wednesday.
Matchday comes round again. The gut feeling I get from waking up on a matchday is still there after all these years! Maybe that's what is required. I must admit that I don't feel the same when preparing to be on the bench. You can't manufacture the feeling, it's something that has to come naturally. Nerves, tension, anticipation and the hope that we can get the three points that would keep us up. Got a great reception from the crowd, which was a great start to the game.
Once again, as at Rotherham, we start very well. Get Sheff Utd on the back foot but can't find that elusive touch in front of goal. I have a quiet half but am happy with my contribution. 2nd half is more difficult. They come out fast and we have to be strong to hold them off. Kept a sharp one out from their sub, Forte and was in the game a lot more although we still had chances on the break. It seemed like they all had a long throw! We held firm though and I think a draw was about fair. Pity we couldn't steal it though.
Had a rare night out in Watford with Luke Anthony on his stag do after the game. Stayed over with Nick Wright who'd come out with us.
Preparation for the Sheff Utd game is done over these two days. Still not 100% but it's getting easier and no doubt I'll be fine for Saturday.
Start getting a lot of positive feedback about the website and some e-mails come through which need replying to. Wish my typing was quicker!
I feel like a "big time Charlie" having my own website! Marc and Christina have done a great job with the design and features which hopefully make it a good site to visit. Peter Jones has worked tirelessly speaking to various ex colleagues and friends I know from football, getting their contributions to the website - thanks to Peter for this. Hopefully this website will prove popular with the Watford supporters. Thanks to all who have contributed and a special thanks to Marc and Christina in setting this up.
This week the news has broken about the Testimonial. I am very grateful to the Club for awarding me a Testimonial Year and hope that the events are well received and the game in particular is a good spectacle. Charlton have been fantastic, thanks to them. My Testimonial Committee are working hard (thanks to all) making arrangements for the match on SAT 30th JULY 2005 and for this I thank them.
Got a bit of a knock in the Rotherham game so had to tone down training so that I didn't make it worse. With only three games to go training is more about ticking over, keeping sharp rather than fitness so it's no big deal.
Spent Sunday morning watching Ryan, my son, play football and then later watching Natasha, my daughter play netball! Most Sundays are like this now as the kids grow up and get involved in team sports. It's great watching them, a real thrill when they score in their respective games. No, Ryan's not a goalkeeper!!
It has been a hectic couple of weeks since the Leeds game. Unfortunately for Richard he felt his knee during that game and had to have a scan on the Monday. This revealed a small tear in his cartilage. It was felt that it would be unfair on Richard to expect him to play on with this injury at such a vital time in Watford's season.
Therefore, I knew from that day that I would be playing at Rotherham and for the rest of the season. We had a reserve game at home to Arsenal the next night (Tuesday). I wanted to play so I could have some match practice as I had missed the week before as we were travelling to Plymouth for that game.
The Manager asked me if just playing a half would be OK as they did not want to risk another injury! So, that is what happened. We got beat by Arsenal 3-1 that evening with Arsenal fielding a very strong reserve side including Sol Campbell, Pascal Cygan, van Persie and Aliadiere.
The build-up to the Rotherham game went well and we went into the game confident that we could turn our fortunes round. First half particularly we played well and got a goal up and maybe should have been further ahead by half time. Second half was more even but we did what we had to do and came away with three priceless points.