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Player of the Month

Pos Player Points
1 Paul Robinson 207
2 Anthony McNamee 179
3 Tommy Smith 151

As in past seasons, the overall totals produce some interesting, if not especially accurate, results. This time, votes were spread more widely and evenly across a number of players - Tommy Smith, last year's winner, received a grand total of 357 votes - and that left things open for a late surge....

However, it is hard to begrudge first place to Paul Robinson, perhaps the least likely of the existing squad to survive last summer's purges. He was not only more focused, more determined and more at ease than before, he was responsible for the season's most committed, passionate performances. Although he picked up relatively few votes in other months, resounding victories in August and November won the day.

That second place should be taken by Anthony McNamee, who didn't make his full home debut until the last game of the season, reveals the flaws in the system...especially as he shot ahead of Neil Cox and Alec Chamberlain, probably the most consistent performers in these "Player of the Month" votes, at the last moment. Nevertheless, the sheer brilliance of McNamee's late series of appearances provided several of the season's highlights.

Finally, Tommy Smith has barely figured since finishing second in the December poll, perhaps reflecting a slightly disappointing season for the star striker. In the end, he just held onto overall third place, beating Neil Cox by a mere three votes and Alec Chamberlain by six.


Pos Player Votes
1 Anthony McNamee 141
2 Danny Webber 14
3 Nigel Gibbs 12

The rest:
4: Neil Cox; 5: Ramon Vega; 6: Paul Okon; 7=: Alec Chamberlain, Dominic Foley, Gifton Noel-Williams, Tommy Smith
Also votes for:
"No-one", "None of them" (Quite right too...he's absolute rubbish, that McNamee - Ed)
Votes cast:

Well, that was close. Last month, just six votes separated Filippo Galli and Wayne Brown. This month, the only issue was whether Anthony McNamee would gain enough votes to overhaul Paul Robinson's grand total of 207...and whether anyone else would make it into double figures.

Of course, nearly every club has one or two internationals-to-be...and you don't need to be a statistician to work out that the vast majority won't become internationals-who-are. It is far too early to measure Anthony McNamee's greatness, obviously. It doesn't really matter, though, for he's been an absolute ray of sunshine over the last couple of months, a one-man sales campaign for season ticket renewals. He ended the season with a sparkling, enchanting ninety minutes against Gillingham, and you had to pinch yourself to believe that it was his full home debut.

A full 127 votes behind, you have to feel a bit sorry for Danny Webber. The number of "Apologies to Danny Webber but..." votes indicates that he would've done rather well under a proportional representation system and so may be joining the LibDems as we speak. Regardless, his loan spell was bright and committed, and there'd be many who'd be delighted to see him return next season.

And finally, Nigel Gibbs. After twenty years, the club's greatest right back takes his final bow on 3rd August, following one last first team appearance against Gillingham. Rarely has a player been held in such high regard by managers, team-mates, opponents and supporters. We may not see his like again. In all honesty, I'm not sure that we've ever seen it very often.


Pos Player Votes
1 Filippo Galli 51
2 Wayne Brown 45
3 Anthony McNamee 37

The rest:
4: Alec Chamberlain; 5=: Espen Baardsen, Neil Cox
Also votes for:
Richard Johnson, Walter Lees, The Queen Mother, Tommy Mooney, "Any player on loan", "The non-existing", "The ref with the tinted glasses who does the half-time shoot-out"
Votes cast:

The season's closest poll...and yet, curiously, also the month with fewest nominations, just four players grabbing all but two of the votes. Really, the result came down to a contest between those who could remember as far back as some absolutely tremendous results, and performances to go with them, at the start of March and those who were unable to get past some truly dismal results, and performances to go with them, later on.

For the former, there were the inspiring defensive displays of Filippo Galli and Wayne Brown, in first and second with just six votes separating them. It's fitting that they were so close, really, as their partnership was the strongest and most cohesive that we've seen since the heyday of Robert Page and Steve Palmer back in 1999. In particular, Galli has revealed himself as a fantastic scrapper, perhaps not what we expected when he arrived in the summer, and his decision to remain at Watford next season is to be welcomed. Brown's future is much less certain, of course, but you may care to think back to his finest hours as a way of lifting some of the current gloom.

For the latter, there was young Anthony McNamee, whose thrilling substitute appearances have lit up some very dark afternoons. While his skill on the ball has brought great joy, it's perhaps his end product that's been most impressive - countless high quality crosses that've deserved a rather better reception from whichever forwards have been loitering disinterestedly in the penalty area at the time. One for the future... which, in itself, is a cause for rare celebration.


Pos Player Votes
1 Wayne Brown 86
2 Jermaine Pennant 58
3= Alec Chamberlain / Allan Nielsen 5

The rest:
5: Marcus Gayle; 6=: Neil Cox, Micah Hyde, Gifton Noel-Williams; 9=: Lee Cook, Filippo Galli, Paul Robinson, Tommy Smith; 14=: Anthony McNamee, Paul Okon
Also votes for:
"Everyone who played no part in the game at Wimbledon...", Terry Byrne, Tommy Mooney, "Tim 'Mr Honest' Shaw", Luca Vialli
Votes cast:

After this season, nothing will surprise us. Back in late summer, BSaD's Player of the Month award was won by the least Vialli-ish member of the existing squad (Paul Robinson) and then by someone on the transfer list (Neil Cox). A few months on, and the top two places, and an enormous majority of the votes, are taken by two on-loan players. And one of the five players recently made available for sale sneaks into third.

There were only two possible winners. In Wayne Brown, we've stumbled upon a defender of real resolve and commanding efficiency. He wins the ball in the air, he wins it on the ground, he clears it so that it bloody well stays cleared. In short, he makes you wonder how on earth we've made it all look so damnably difficult over the last couple of years. That said, we'd better be careful at this, in case any Ipswich fans happen to be reading this, he's clearly not good enough for the Premiership and, really, we'd only be doing them a favour by taking him off their wage bill permanently. (Well, it worked for Steve Palmer....)

If Wayne Brown is developing into something of a star at Vicarage Road, you feel that Jermaine Pennant will do so on a bigger stage at some point. While showing inexperience at times - one reason why we might see him again, as regular competitive football can only be to his benefit right now (although it might not feel like it when he's getting hacked by the opposition full-back) - his loan spell was a real joy, something that sparkled and twinkled while so much else faded away.

The rest are far, far behind. Allan Nielsen picked up five votes, presumably thanks to an outstanding performance in the month's last game against Norwich. And, with Espen Baardsen transfer-listed and a new contract to keep him at the club, Alec Chamberlain appears to have seen off yet another keeper.


Pos Player Votes
1 Ramon Vega 48
2 Jermaine Pennant 24
3 Alec Chamberlain 19

The rest:
4: Gifton Noel-Williams; 5: Tommy Smith; 6=: Lloyd Doyley, Heidar Helguson; 8: Dominic Foley; 9=: Neil Cox, Filippo Galli; 11=: Micah Hyde, Richard Johnson, Allan Nielsen; 14=: Paul Okon, Paul Robinson
Also votes for:
"No-one", "Anyone but Marcus Gayle" (boo to you, sir!), Doug Ellis, Ray Wilkins, Bernie Ecclestone (pardon?)
Votes cast:

One of those months. You rather know that things aren't as normal when an out-on-loan Dominic Foley receives four votes and an out-for-ages Richard Johnson gets two. The comedy votes also increase with the number of defeats.

Despite all that, a significant result. Much-maligned during his first few months at the club, Ramon Vega is finally emerging as a considerable force for good rather than an expensive agent of chaos. His partnership with Filippo Galli, formed during the absence of Pierre Issa, has proved to be far more robust and durable than might've been expected. And it's allowed him to bring some of his personality into play too - to quote my co-editor, "even when he's awful, it's in an endearingly earnest sort of way". Not such a disastrous signing after all, then.

Of course, there was never much doubt that acquiring Jermaine Pennant on loan for a few weeks would turn out to be a worthwhile venture, and his presence in the top three is equally unsurprising. Behind him, Alec Chamberlain, last month's winner, may no longer be keeping clean sheets, but remains in outstanding form.


Pos Player Votes
1 Alec Chamberlain 87
2 Tommy Smith 13
3= Neil Cox / Gifton Noel-Williams 6

The rest:
5: Paul Robinson; 6: Ramon Vega; 7: Paolo Vernazza; 8: Heidar Helguson
Votes cast:

In comparison to recent months, December's award drew few votes. That was partly because of a problem with the forms on the site, and, in all probability, partly because it took place following an especially gruesome home defeat by Millwall on New Year's Day. Still, from the very start, there was absolutely no doubt about the winner.

Alec Chamberlain kept four clean sheets during December - that's only one more than during the previous month, when he finished fourth. The Player of the Month award was his because of some absolutely astonishing individual performances, then. There was Coventry away, when he was defiant and unbreakable; Palace at home, when his hat-trick of brilliant saves at the start of the second half was only made to seem human by an insane stop by Kolinko at the other end; everywhere else, apart from Hillsborough, when he was there to save our defence time and again. A Vicarage Road legend, consolidating his position.

The rest are so far behind that they barely merit a mention. In second, Tommy Smith had another good month, still providing a slightly blunt side with a cutting edge. In joint third, Neil Cox's form fell away a little when he was moved away from the centre, while Gifton Noel-Williams continues to be the cause of considerable argument but is more than all right by BSaD.


Pos Player Votes
1 Paul Robinson 112
2 Neil Cox 75
3 Tommy Smith 30

The rest:
4: Alec Chamberlain; 5: Paolo Vernazza; 6: Micah Hyde; 7=: Lloyd Doyley, Stephen Glass, Heidar Helguson, Pierre Issa, Ramon Vega
Votes cast:

Ah, November. The month in which Watford Football Club found people to fill three vacancies. First, the club villain. Second, the club hero. Both of these posts were filled by Paul Robinson, disgracefully abused by some fickle sections of the support after scoring a tragi-comic own goal against Stockport, and then justifiably lauded for a performance against Charlton that is already the stuff of legend. In what was an eventful month even by his standards, Robbo also managed to find time for goal-scoring, including one with his right foot, and for upsetting lots of Gillingham fans. Oh, and for some solid defending too.

During November, Robbo made us grin and laugh and cheer and bellow and punch the air in triumph and, occasionally, hold our heads in despair. Yes, he's a Watford player, in the most traditional and wonderful sense.

The third vacancy was, of course, for a leader. Not just someone to wear the captain's armband, but someone to set an example, to organise and encourage those around him, to stand taller and stronger, to be the foundation of what we're trying to build. We found all of those qualities in Neil Cox, who was absolute bleedin' class and, ironically, is exactly the player Luca Vialli was trying to sign during the summer.

Last to take a bow is Tommy Smith, who continues to look like the best product of the youth system for many years. In fourth, Alec Chamberlain also made it into double figures and deserves a mention for keeping three clean sheets during the month. Remarkably, bearing in mind that the total number of votes was the highest for more than a year, only two other players - Paolo Vernazza and Micah Hyde - received more than one nomination.


Pos Player Votes
1 Tommy Smith 81
2 Micah Hyde 59
3 David Noble 21

The rest:
4: Neil Cox; 5: Heidar Helguson; 6: Gifton Noel-Williams; 7=: Stephen Glass, Stephen Hughes, Paul Robinson, Ramon Vega; 11=: Alec Chamberlain, Nordin Wooter; 13=: Pierre Issa, Jason Norville
Also votes for:
Wasim Akram (?!), Luther Blissett
Votes cast:

This time, no surprises. After a brief spell in the doldrums, Tommy Smith is back, Tommy Smith is top scorer, Tommy Smith is causing collective pant-wetting among opposition defenders, Tommy Smith is absolutely bloody fantastic, Tommy Smith is the October Player of the Month. Freed from the need to be an out-and-out striker by others - first Gifton Noel-Williams, then Heidar Helguson - also returning to form alongside him, he began October with a host of glorious assists and ended it with a load of goals. For Watford fans, there can be no better news.

Except, perhaps, that Micah Hyde has undergone a similar resurgence in the midfield...and in the penalty area, where he's struck on a number of important occasions. If ever there was a time for the award to be given to two players, this was probably it. In third, David Noble has made a significant impact after three months of his year-long loan, and is evidently a quite magnificent player. Sign up, and all that.

A bit further down, there are other names to note. In fourth, Neil Cox continues to impress and has finally been removed from the transfer list. And, as mentioned above, there are two strikers who've looked forlorn for a painfully long time, and have returned to their joyous best.

Altogether, a happier picture than a month ago.


Pos Player Votes
1 Neil Cox 36
2 Stephen Glass 20
3 Marcus Gayle 15

The rest:
4=: Gary Fisken, Paul Robinson; 6=: Tommy Smith, Darren Ward; 8=: Micah Hyde, Nordin Wooter; 10=: Lloyd Doyley, Paolo Vernazza; 12: Filippo Galli; 13: Espen Baardsen; 14: Alec Chamberlain, Nick Wright
Also votes for:
"No-one", Fred and Richard Fairbrass, Scott Dobie, Luther Blissett
Votes cast:

And the second BSaD Player of the Month award since Gianluca Vialli's appointment is no less extraordinary than the first. Now, following a disappointing month that resulted in a broad spread of results, Neil Cox becomes the first transfer-listed player to win the popular vote...and on his birthday too.

Out of the picture until Patrick Blondeau's injury, Neil Cox has conducted himself with the utmost professionalism, responding to his recall with performances that have been dynamic and committed. To cap it all, he even found the net against Birmingham, to the obvious delight of his teammates. Throughout his Watford career, there's been a sense that we've only rarely seen the best of the full back...and, while that remains the case, pressure is mounting for his recent contribution to be recognised with a clarification of his position. If Cox is the only cover for the right back position, and if he can be the kind of reliable squad player that he has been over the last month, there seems to be no logical argument for keeping him on the transfer list.

In second and third place, two of Vialli's summer signings, Stephen Glass and Marcus Gayle. The former has put a shaky pre-season behind him, adding much to the side since his return from injury. The latter leads the goal-scoring chart and, while inconsistent, has looked strong and potent when given quality service.

Further down the list, there are two other noteworthy names. In joint fourth place, and trailing Gayle by just one vote, Gary Fisken has seized the opportunity presented by injuries to other midfielders and looks a real prospect. Finally, we find Darren Ward in sixth, his sale to Millwall provoking a significant number of protest votes.


Pos Player Votes
1 Paul Robinson 70
2 Paolo Vernazza 39
3 Allan Nielsen 25

The rest:
4=: Filippo Galli, Nordin Wooter; 6: Espen Baardsen; 7: Marcus Gayle; 8=: Micah Hyde, Tommy Smith; 10: Patrick Blondeau; 11=: Neil Cox, Dominic Foley, Robert Page, Steve Palmer, Tommy Mooney

Votes cast:

So, the first BSaD Player of the Month award of Gianluca Vialli's reign brings a truly remarkable result. That the winner is a well-known face at Watford is notable in itself, since the award has often been won by new signings and there were plenty to choose from on this occasion. That the winner is also Paul Robinson makes it all the more incredible. Now, you might think that my surprise is unkind...but the fact is that, since the start of these awards back in '97, Robinson has never even appeared in the top three.

There's no question that he deserves this, though. The most enthusiastic convert to Vialli's playing style, he has been both robust and exuberant, playing with a vigour that's brought broad grins to many fans' faces. That he began the season with a somewhat unfortunate red card at Maine Road hasn't dampened his spirits at all. Player of the month by a mile, no matter how unlikely that might've seemed a few weeks ago.

The presence of two midfielders - Paolo Vernazza and Allan Nielsen - in second and third places indicates that there have been a number of impressive individual performances so far, even if that part of the side has yet to knit together fully.