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What must the Watford players have been thinking as they watched Heidar Helguson's induction into the Hall of Fame?
As I watched the video paying tribute to this year’s inductee into Watford’s Hall of Fame, Heidar Helguson, I could see the current Hornets squad out of the corner of my eye. And as the likes of Ray Lewington and Neil Cox discussed Helguson’s impeccable desire and professionalism, I was left wondering what the current squad were thinking.
There was something symbolic about it.
How must the players who performed so badly the day before be feeling as they heard some of the finest gentlemen in Watford’s history talk about a player who summed up what the club has been about historically. The fact Tommy Mooney and Luther Blissett were also in the room at the time just emphasised the point even more.
Lewington explained how he once had to inform Helguson the club did not have enough money to offer him a new contract and the response summed up the striker; as long as his manager was happy then he was not worried about the money. He was happy to stay.
Hornets’ fans have been blessed to watch some exceptional football at times in the last two seasons. But possession-based or dynamic football is nothing without commitment and work-rate. That was seemingly forgotten on Saturday.
It is important to make clear that I like the Watford players as individuals and the starting XI during the 4-1 debacle against Huddersfield Town appear to be good people: players whose passion and commitment could rarely be questioned in the past. It made the weekend’s performance all the more confusing.
After three horrendous displays on the bounce, I was intrigued to see what the morale was like at the end of season awards on Sunday night – from the players, staff and supporters.
In the end, it was another enjoyable evening and the winners of the respective awards helped.
Troy Deeney’s passion could rarely be questioned and he picked up the Watford Observer’s Player of the Season trophy and also the award from his team-mates.
The community ambassador award, which included a heart-warming video, went to another committed player in Cristian Battocchio and likewise for the young player crown, which went to Sean Murray.
Club historian Trefor Jones was also a worthy recipient for the fan of the season gong, presented by the Watford Observer’s own Oli Phillips.
There were a few sniggers when the team performance of the season video was aired. For the record, Beppe Sannino voted for the 4-1 victory at Sheffield Wednesday as it ended the Golden Boys’ horrific winless run away from home. Goal of the season went to Gabriele Angella for his audacious flick at Nottingham Forest.
I wasn’t at last year’s awards due to a family illness but in the last two seasons the players have sat on their own tables rather than having two sitting on each guest table. The change was understandable due to the language barrier with several players but it does diminish the event slightly. I hope that tradition will return in the future. Clapping the players into the room individually was also a bit much after a season when the team underperformed.
Watford fan and comedian Stuart Holdham presented the awards for the first time and was the right side of uncomfortable with his jokes.
One of the funniest moments of the evening came when a game based around predicting if Watford players would score penalties ended with four fans and then Lloyd Doyley trying to eat a biscuit which started off balanced on their foreheads. None succeeded but Doyley continues to endear himself to supporters as he joined the stage at the first time of being asked and left with giant Hornets underpants on.
The word humbled was mentioned in both of Deeney’s thank you speeches and he also thanked ex-Walsall team-mate Mooney for his “schooling”.
Manuel Almunia accepted the players were not proud of their season and Beppe Sannino delivered a speech in English, which included an apology to the fans and ended it with “I love you”.
As is always the case, nearly all of the players left once the formal part of the evening ended but Deeney stuck around and continued to sign autographs and have pictures taken late into the night.
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