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Player of the Month

Pos Player Points
1 Heidar Helguson 364
2 Neil Cox 233
3 Micah Hyde 212

Well, it's a bit of an odd result, admittedly. For a start, there's been no late surge into the top three - Anthony McNamee finished second last year, remember, purely on the basis of an overwhelming victory in the final month. And yet the fans' chosen "Player of the Season" doesn't even make the podium - Marcus Gayle finished fourth, only eight votes behind third, and won just two polls during the season, in February and March. Still, if you stick Gayle at the top and shunt everyone else down, then it looks about right....

Besides, no-one would begrudge Heidar Helguson a moment of glory. For me, his transformation this season has been nearly as remarkable as Gayle's, for I tended to share the opinion of his previous manager that he couldn't cut it as a target man. But he's not only proved a point. He's done more than that, as the general lack of goals from elsewhere has caused an enormous amount of responsibility to rest upon his shoulders. While that pressure has told at times, much of the season has been characterised by Heidar Helguson playing as if driven by some inner demon. Nobody has put more into the season than the Icelander. Nobody could, quite frankly.

In second, Neil Cox's future is undecided at the time of writing. But his performances, particularly when the partnership with Marcus Gayle began to come together, have again been full of personal pride and determination. Last season, he was quite clearly the leader of the side; this season, the general improvement has meant that more collective responsibility has been taken. Nevertheless, he continues to set an example, especially to the younger players, and his departure would be significant.

Finally, the contribution of Micah Hyde has, perhaps, been rather less celebrated. But, in a season that's involved countless midfielders, Hyde has been the (near-)constant. Now something of a Vicarage Road veteran, he was one of those who made it clear that Ray Lewington was the manager that the dressing room wanted, and although this won't be remembered as a vintage Hyde season, he's rarely let his chosen manager down. The same is true of many, at the end of this surprising, pleasing, satisfying season.


Pos Player Votes
1 Scott Fitzgerald 44
2 Marcus Gayle 21
3 Jamie Hand 14

The rest:
4: Michael Chopra; 5: Neal Ardley; 6: Richard Lee; 7=: Neil Cox, Allan Nielsen; 9=: Lloyd Doyley, Heidar Helguson, Richard Johnson; 13=: Gifton Noel-Williams, Jason Norville; 15=: Dominic Foley, Stephen Glass, Micah Hyde, Jack Smith
Also votes for:
"Gavin Mahon's hair - where did it go?" (Have you only just noticed? - Ed); Kevin Ling; "Mr Stoat in his Cuban heels"; Stephen Hughes; Terry and Ray / the whole team and staff; the Burnley defence; Keanu Reeves; "the Sheffield United player that nearly hit Warnock's head with the ball"
Votes cast:

The answer to the question - "Will the voting for April be dominated by one match too, I wonder...?" - at the end of last month's summary is definitely and resounding negative. While the FA Cup Quarter-Final counted for everything in March, the Semi-Final has already become an occasion to remember rather than a match to pick over, and the "Player of the Month" voting has been influenced by something else entirely. The end of the season.

With six players getting into double figures and other votes spread far and wide around the squad, the poll reflects both the varied, extensive team selections for the final games and the lack of a single, outstanding candidate. None of which is intended to lessen the achievement of Scott Fitzgerald in winning the award in the same month as he made his first team debut. His handful of appearances have been full of intent and characterised by an extraordinarily refreshing desire to shoot at every opportunity, crowned by his first goal in the final game against Sheffield United. But, of course, it's worth remembering that Anthony McNamee was in the same position at this stage last season and, as we've seen, players sometimes need a little time and patience.

In second place, a more familiar face. Although he's conspicuously absent from the overall totals, Marcus Gayle has had a quite astonishing season and, of course, was outstanding yet again at Villa Park. The "Player of the Season" without a doubt. It seems unthinkable that we would've been happy enough to off-load him less than twelve months ago.

And finally, a deserved bronze medal for young Jamie Hand, albeit that he finished with just one more vote than the on-loan Michael Chopra. Still, his performance in the victory over Derby County was invigorating and thrilling, one of the highlights of an extremely up-and-down month and a resounding confirmation that he could be quite a player in a year or two.


Pos Player Votes
1 Marcus Gayle 59
2 Tommy Smith 31
3 Stephen Glass 18

The rest:
4: Heidar Helguson; 5: Neil Cox; 6: Neal Ardley; 7: Gifton Noel-Williams; 8=: Micah Hyde, Gavin Mahon; 10=: Wayne Brown, Alec Chamberlain, Michael Chopra, Sean Dyche, Scott Fitzgerald, Richard Lee, Jason Norville, Nick Wright
Also votes for:
Nigel Gibbs; "Vialli's influence on Ray's team selection"; "Terry and Ray (for the Burnley game - most of the rest was cr4p)"; Robin Cook; Stephen Hughes; George Galloway MP; "Wayne Rooney's mum"
Votes cast:

Having won his first "Player of the Month" award in February, Marcus Gayle repeats the trick in March. It was a curious month, sometimes full of anticipation and then ecstasy and yet frequently gloomy too, and the Hornets managed just a solitary victory amid four defeats and two draws. But that victory was a bit special, and Marcus Gayle was the star performer on that afternoon, utterly commanding as the defence laid the foundations for the fairytale result. He wasn't bad in the other games either, and his absence since succumbing to a knee injury has been keenly felt.

In second, Tommy Smith was another to star against Burnley. His scrambled goal broke the visitors' resistance, but it was more than that - he was terrific that afternoon, very much back to his adventurous, mischievous best. Long may that continue. And, unsurprisingly, third place is taken by Stephen Glass, scorer of the goal that sealed the Cup victory. Despite the news that he'll be released in the summer, he's continued to prove himself to be a valuable, committed member of the well as a very fine striker of a free kick.

Will the voting for April be dominated by one match too, I wonder...?


Pos Player Votes
1 Marcus Gayle 73
2 Micah Hyde 41
3 Heidar Helguson 20

The rest:
4: Tommy Smith; 5: Alec Chamberlain; 6: Dominic Foley; 7=: Neal Ardley, Neil Cox, Richard Johnson, Gavin Mahon, Jermaine Pennant, Paolo Vernazza
Also votes for:
Mr Mike Dean/The ref at Sunderland, Thomas Sorensen, Kevin Phillips, "Your cheating trainer" (aren't Wolves fans great?), "Homer Simpson (Gavin Mahon plays like him)", Mrs Heidar Helguson, Noam Chomsky
Votes cast:

It just had to happen. If any player has deserved to win a "Player of the Month" award this season, then it's surely been Marcus Gayle. The turn-around in his Watford career has been absolutely extraordinary, from a striker with no confidence and few goals to a defender of commanding presence and more than a little style. And no goals at all, which doesn't matter any more. February, in which he held onto his place as part of the defensive pairing despite competition from Sean Dyche and Wayne Brown, was the finest of several extremely fine months for a transformed player. Original concept by Ray Lewington, everything else by Marcus Gayle himself. Marvellous.

The runner-up is Micah Hyde, whose continued excellence in midfield is sometimes overlooked. Perhaps the player whose support for last summer's managerial appointment was been most out-spoken, Hyde has rewarded his boss with performances that have been full of hard work, skill and positive leadership. In third, Heidar Helguson has only failed to make the top three on two occasions this season. And he wasn't playing back in August, so that doesn't count. He was fourth in December too. You get the point, I think. Rarely has a player put more into a single campaign.

Only five players received more than a couple of votes in this poll. And so a special mention ought to go to Tommy Smith in fourth, for he was desperately unfortunate to be involved in a car accident at the very moment when he appeared to returning to peak form. But a candidate for March, perhaps?


Pos Player Votes
1 Heidar Helguson 104
2 Jermaine Pennant 50
3 Micah Hyde 29

The rest:
4: Marcus Gayle; 5: Allan Nielsen; 6: Neil Cox; 7: Paolo Vernazza; 8: Alec Chamberlain, Dominic Foley, Tommy Smith
Also votes for:
Ramon Vega, Neil Warnock's mother, "The whole team", "Anyone who sat through the whole Millwall game", Stop The War Coalition, "Anyone except Jermaine Pennance (sic)", George Monbiot
Votes cast:

Ah, fortunate timing. Had the January "Player of the Month" poll taken place after the Millwall game, we'd have been lucky to have received a single vote. And that would've been Ian Dell's monthly vote for Dominic Foley. But, luckily for us, it happened two weeks later, after that mighty victory over West Brom. And we were deluged.

That said, the timing hasn't affected the result too much. For Heidar Helguson, now leagues ahead of Neil Cox in the overall totals, presented us with yet another month of running and charging and jumping and scoring and celebrating. Particularly memorable were that rocket of a header to win the match against Norwich in injury time and, of course, that goal in the FA Cup. Increasingly, he looks capable of reaching the magical twenty goal mark, even with the handicap of that earlier injury. Whether he makes it or not, though, he's totally justified the faith of the manager and the supporters this season. And totally proved me wrong.

In second spot, Jermaine Pennant has been proving a few people wrong too...and will be hoping to continue that pattern when he gets back to Highbury. His return to Vicarage Road raised a few questions, certainly...but most of them have been answered, and it'll be very interesting to see how the Watford attack functions without his pace, trickery and increasingly accurate delivery to use as an outlet.

Finally, you have to feel a little sorry for Micah Hyde, whose excellent season has been slightly eclipsed by others since he won the award back in August. But he continues to keep that midfield ticking over, and a couple of his recent performances have been nothing short of sensational. Sometimes you wonder if we'd be raving about him more, were he a recent signing rather than a comparative veteran....


Pos Player Votes
1 Neil Cox 65
2 Marcus Gayle 24
3 Jermaine Pennant 15

The rest:
4: Heidar Helguson; 5=: Micah Hyde, Gifton Noel-Williams; 7=: Alec Chamberlain, Jason Norville; 9=: Espen Baardsen, Dominic Foley, Allan Nielsen, Paul Robinson, Paolo Vernazza
Also votes for:
"The director who gave Watford FC money to afford Wayne Brown's wages", "Hemel Jake", "Sean Dyche's big toe", "Referee Alan Butler"
Votes cast:

For the second month in a row, Neil Cox wins the "Player of the Month" award and is now breathing down Heidar Helguson's neck in the overall totals (as well as the interesting battle to be top goal-scorer). December saw a noticeable drop in the number of votes, perhaps due to the time of year as much as anything else, but Cox was still the clear winner. Increasingly, the season is being defined by his fulfillment of the captain's role, whether it be leading the back-line or thumping in last minute penalties. Well played, sir.

In second, Marcus Gayle might've expected to lose his place when Wayne Brown arrived. Instead, some towering, commanding performances have ensured that he's become almost an automatic selection and has answered those, including me, who felt that he couldn't be relied upon as part of a back four. It's interesting that, in a month when the defence became the main cause for concern, defenders fill the top two spots.

And finally, Jermaine Pennant. He's still someone who inspires a great deal of debate, particularly as results have taken a dip since his arrival. But he's undeniably thrilling in full flight...and we're beginning to fit him into our attack, just as he's beginning to supply end product as well as dazzling skill. One for next month, perhaps....


Pos Player Votes
1 Neil Cox 99
2 Lloyd Doyley 50
3 Heidar Helguson 25

The rest:
4: Marcus Gayle; 5: Tommy Smith; 6=: Alec Chamberlain, Dominic Foley; 8=: Neal Ardley, Stephen Glass, Micah Hyde, Allan Nielsen, Jermaine Pennant, Paul Robinson
Also votes for:
"Anyone other than Jermaine Pennant" (and he speaks very highly of you too...)
Votes cast:

The fourth "Player of the Month" award of the season...and the fourth different winner. In marked contrast to October, November brought just four points - a moral victory over Wolves to begin and an actual victory over Burnley to finish. And it's the latter that provides much of the background to the result, as an outstanding performance from Neil Cox, including a truly extraordinary goalline clearance, was the highlight of a scrappy game. But the picture is wider than that, as Cox has captained the side in exemplary fashion throughout the campaign and increasingly appears to be a positive, assertive influence within the club as a whole.

For the second month running, Lloyd Doyley occupies the runner-up spot. The surprise package of the season so far, Doyley has added consistency and confidence to his already impressive game to produce a series of startlingly effective performances. Not the name that springs to mind when one thinks of the best youth product of recent years, perhaps...but he may turn out to be just that.

In third, Heidar Helguson continues to win praise for his determination and aggression as much as his goal-scoring. While his November wasn't as successful as his October, he continued to throw everything into matches, and ended a short drought with a vital goal against Burnley.


Pos Player Votes
1 Heidar Helguson 142
2 Lloyd Doyley 24
3 Micah Hyde 23

The rest:
4: Allan Nielsen; 5: Stephen Glass; 6: Neil Cox; 7=: Neal Ardley, Dominic Foley, Tommy Smith, Danny Webber; 11=: Alec Chamberlain, Sean Dyche, Paul Robinson
Also votes for:
"The whole team", Tommy Mooney
Votes cast:

Oh, what a month. Four wins and just one defeat, and a growing sense that the league table might not lie. In truth, there's never been a less appropriate time for individual popularity contests...but there was only ever going to be one winner of this particular vote....

Heidar Helguson left the others far behind, praised as much for the sheer lunatic intensity of his recent performances as for the goals that have won us vital points. Ray Lewington deserves credit for showing such faith in him, of course, but the player himself deserves even more for his magnificent, heroic response. A worthy winner.

In second and third, Lloyd Doyley and Micah Hyde were separated by just one vote. The former has emerged from promising youngster to rounded, confident defender...and it's a measure of the improvement elsewhere that his eager, vibrant performances fitted right in. The latter has been in sparkling form in midfield, combining work-rate with elegance in vintage style, and has lived up to the role of senior professional.

It's a measure of the dominance of that top three - and we can add Allan Nielsen with seventeen votes in fourth - that Stephen Glass, another who had a superb month, is in sixth with just four votes. That sums it up, really. Right through, from first place to the three players in joint eleventh, there are individuals who've contributed so much to the team. And that team has been the real winner.


Pos Player Votes
1 Micah Hyde 100
2 Heidar Helguson 49
3 Neil Cox 37

The rest:
4: Danny Webber; 5: Paul Robinson; 6: Lloyd Doyley; 7: Allan Nielsen; 8: Neal Ardley; 9: Anthony McNamee; 10=: Sean Dyche, Dominic Foley; 12: Alec Chamberlain; 13=: Marcus Gayle, Jamie Hand, Tommy Smith
Also votes for:
"All of them, for helping the club and taking the pay cut" (and variations thereon), Watford Supporters Trust, Edwina Currie, Phil Keppell(?)
Votes cast:

A particularly high number of votes this month, indicating a very satisfactory, encouraging September...despite a dreadful defeat to Luton in the Worthington Cup. In the league, the Hornets were not only unbeaten, but cemented a position in the top half by recording excellent victories at Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United and an equally excellent draw at Preston. Throughout, Micah Hyde was increasingly influential, combining determination with great skill and vision. He's won three consecutive "Man of the Match" awards, and now collects the September "Player of the Month" to add to his collection.

The return of Heidar Helguson has been eagerly anticipated for weeks. The lack of a recognised centre forward, coupled with Ray Lewington's promise to use him in a traditional forward role, have placed a great deal of expectation on his shoulders. He hasn't disappointed. On the contrary, his work-rate, despite not yet being anywhere near full fitness, has been extraordinary...and he's scored vital goals too, pouncing on chances in the six yard box just as we hoped he would.

Neil Cox's bronze medal is deserved recognition for his role as captain of a side that's starting to pull together at long last. A quieter presence than Sean Dyche, he's led by example...and his part in persuading the rest of the squad to accept the club's request for a wage deferral shouldn't be ignored either.

Finally, several votes were cast for "the team", some mentioning its spirit and some mentioning the wage reduction. It's the first time that I can remember that happening, and it is surely a better summary of September than anything that I can come up with. We lost to Luton, and yet started October in a confident, determined mood. Who'd have thought it, eh?


Pos Player Votes
1 Danny Webber 88
2 Paul Robinson 26
3 Marcus Gayle 22

The rest:
4: Allan Nielsen; 5=: Alec Chamberlain, Sean Dyche; 7: Micah Hyde; 8: Dominic Foley; 9: Anthony McNamee; 10=: Neil Cox, Stephen Glass, Tommy Smith; 13=: Neil Ardley, Espen Baardsen, Dr Dave Perahia
Also votes for:
Ramon Vega
Votes cast:

No particular surprises here, as Danny Webber, the distant runner-up to Anthony McNamee back in April, walks away with the first "Player of the Month" award of Ray Lewington's reign. Returning for a second loan spell, Webber has looked sharp and bright even in comparison to last season, and provided much of the inspiration behind the joyous trouncing of Coventry - his goal in that game was, arguably, the highlight of the month too - as well as a few straws to clutch at in the defeat to Portsmouth two days earlier.

In second place, Paul Robinson has already continued his goal-scoring antics, hitting the back of the net twice. A daft dismissal at Norwich aside, he remains the (slightly erratic) heart-beat of a side in recovery. And, somehow, a victory wouldn't be quite the same without a Robbo celebration to go with it.

Just behind, Marcus Gayle appears in the top three for the first time since September, and deservedly so. His performances as part of the back three have seemingly re-built his confidence, enabling him to shrug off (occasional) mistakes that would've destroyed him last season. He's been strong, determined and, at times, the most effective defender on show. Although his manager deserves some credit for the experiment, Gayle himself has made it work.