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By Ian Lathey

Andy Holt. A Hull City left back. It doesn’t matter which club you’re managing or where you take them, Andy will do a job for you. Twenty grand should be sufficient if you want to buy him or, if you wait a season or two, you can pick him up for free. Even if you end up in the Promised Land of the Premiership where the remainder of your squad are worth tens of millions and earning extortionate amounts each week, Andy will still be there, turning in performances which warrant eights or nines every game. He’s that sort of player. Not flash, there are other players to fulfil that role. Just dependable. You know where you are with Andy Holt.

Anyone who is not an exponent of the computer game Championship Manager won’t have a clue to what I’m referring, of course. In real life, Andy is now at Wrexham and, with respect, I suspect he wouldn’t hold down a place in a Premiership winning side like he can in Championship Manager. The sentiment is the same in real life though. Graham Taylor, a man whose football beliefs and attitudes have largely shaped my own, once said that the first name on his team sheet would be Les Taylor. Amongst the Craig Ramages and Glyn Hodges of this world, there’s always a place for a Les Taylor. Or a Nigel Gibbs and most definitely an Alec Chamberlain.

Even from a young age, my favourite Watford players have always tended to be those who could be placed in the loyal and dependable category. I recall having a letter printed in the matchday programme in my early teens praising Ross Jenkins for such attributes. References to mere dependability do Alec a disservice, however. He’s given Watford Football Club so much more than that and a huge amount more than the one performance everyone will naturally always remember him by.

Lots of players have ability, though, so how has Alec been able to see off so many pretenders to his number one jersey for long enough to have earned himself a testimonial year? I know the answer. Through a business contact, I was offered the opportunity to be part of Alec’s testimonial committee, an honour which I obviously accepted. Having been given this opportunity and got to know Alec and Jane a little better, I gained an invaluable insight into why.

After one of our early testimonial committee meetings, myself and other members remarked on the need to arrive early the following week to take advantage of the ‘pub grub’ available at our regular meeting venue. Alec declined, citing the fact he was due to appear in a reserve fixture the day after. How many players are that conscientious in their twenties, let alone when they’ve just turned forty? Now that, Roy, is dedication!

That is why he is now about to enjoy a testimonial year which must rank as one of the most deserved that Watford Football Club has ever awarded. I am very proud to be able to play a small part in it. Thanks, Alec.

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