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BLIND, STUPID AND DESPERATE
 
04/05:
Player of the Month
 
Totals

Pos Player Points
1 Heidar Helguson 466
2 Danny Webber 243
3 Jay Demerit 231

April/May

Pos Player Votes
1 Heidar Helguson 84
2 Alec Chamberlain 22
3= Jay Demerit,
Lloyd Doyley
13

The rest:
5: Anthony McNamee; 6: Al Bangura; 7: Dominic Blizzard; 8=: Bruce Dyer, Ashley Young; 10=: James Chambers, Danny Cullip, Chris Eagles
Also votes for: In the on-going 'ray/boo! contest, two votes applauding Adrian Boothroyd, one abusing Graham Simpson, one abusing the Salad Brothers.

Votes cast:
159 (plus 15 "spoilt papers")

Yes, it's Heidar Helguson. Obviously. Short of being elected to Number Ten, getting the gig as Pope, or having a platinum album - and, hey, he's still young - it would be pretty difficult for H to pick up any more awards, really. Given that there were a number of candidates for these accolades earlier in the season, his clean sweep - of which the April/May Player of the Month is just a minor skirmish - has been astonishing...and revealing too. We'll spend the summer wondering whether it'll be his last....

In second, a very familiar face. Alec Chamberlain just won't go away, will he? Thank heavens. His contribution to tightening up the defence - which, when you get beyond the bluster and the controversy and the match reporters' wailing, was what really saved us from the drop - was again hugely significant, and you'd be a fool to bet on that being the last story to emerge from his playing career. Oh, and it means that I can plug his website again.

The joint bronze medalists are Jay Demerit, whose storming defensive performances have seen him sneak into third place in the overall totals too, and Lloyd Doyley, growing in stature with a run in the first team during the final month of the season and appearing on the podium for the first time since August 2003.

March

Pos Player Votes
1 Jay Demerit 13
2 Johnnie Jackson 11
3= Neal Ardley,
Bruce Dyer
8

The rest:
5: Jack Smith; 6: Gavin Mahon; 7: Lloyd Doyley; 8: Danny Webber; 9: Scott Fitzgerald; 10=: Chris Eagles, Richard Lee; 12=: Dominic Blizzard, Omari Coleman, Paul Devlin, Toumani Diagouraga, Sean Dyche, Heidar Helguson
Also votes for: The much-anticipated popularity vote between the various personalities behind the events at the end of March finished thus: Ray Lewington, 51 votes; Graham Simpson, 1 vote; Mark Ashton, 1 vote. There were 22 votes for "no-one", or variations thereon.

Votes cast:
75 (plus 89 "spoilt papers")

All neatly summarised by one vote, which merely read "You are kidding, aren't you?"

There's not really much else to say. During the whole of March, not a single Watford player was awarded a mark higher than three out of five by BSaD's reporting team...and most were given considerably less. The sheer pointlessness of a "Player of the Month" poll was thrown into even sharper relief by the sacking of Ray Lewington, who drew a large and understandable protest vote that even dwarfed the hefty number of variations on "no-one".

Bloody hellfire. Can we start again, please?

February

Pos Player Votes
1 Jay Demerit 86
2 Bruce Dyer 46
3 Johnnie Jackson 9

The rest:
4: Chris Eagles; 5: Paul Jones; 6: Gavin Mahon; 7: Heidar Helguson; 8=: Neal Ardley, Alec Chamberlain, James Chambers, Jermaine Darlington, Scott Fitzgerald, Brynjar Gunnarsson
Also votes for: Oh, stuff and things. You know. Less of them than last month...but then, I've even less time to do them than last month, and thus the outcome is much the same....

Votes cast:
163 (plus 21 "spoilt papers")

Mighty. That's Jay Demerit. Strong and decisive, quick and alert...and much the best thing about the last couple of months, in which the early season favourites have rather fallen away, either through injury or lack of form. Bearing in mind that we're halfway through March already, it's hard to evaluate our defence without staring aghast at its last three outings; nevertheless, the American defender is a serious prospect, and his rugged determination will hopefully see us through to happier times.

The only other player to register a significant total, Bruce Dyer, is in a more uncertain position. His ratio of goals to starts is remarkable, and a reminder that we hoped to sign an out-and-out goalscorer rather than just a target man...and yet it's also indicative of a stop-start season, in which positive form hasn't quite been enough to hold down a first-team place. It continues to be a little awkward, not quite fitting together...and then again, Bruce Dyer continues to shrug it all off, get on with it and prove his considerable worth.

He might only have gathered nine votes, but the odds on Johnnie Jackson finishing in third place would've been pretty long at the end of January. While he hasn't quite recaptured the form that saw him retained to fill in for Brynjar Gunnarsson at the turn of the month, he's nevertheless proved to be a likeable midfield scrapper, gathering valuable experience while chipping in with honest, energetic contributions. He's done all right. And all right is pretty good, by current standards.

January

Pos Player Votes
1 Jay Demerit 118
2 Heidar Helguson 84
3 Paul Jones 35

The rest:
4: Gavin Mahon; 5=: Neal Ardley, Brynjar Gunnarsson; 7=: Neil Cox, Jermaine Darlington, Danny Webber; 10: Anthony McNamee; 11: James Chambers; 12=: Hameur Bouazza, Alec Chamberlain, Omari Coleman, Lloyd Doyley, Bruce Dyer, Johnnie Jackson, Richard Lee
Also votes for: Just about bloody everything you could possibly imagine, and then some more. I'll leave it to your imagination; if anyone wants me to plough through them all, my hourly rate is available upon application....

Votes cast:
287 (plus 63 "spoilt papers")

Among Big Ron's many unique -isms is "the arrive". As in, "Neal Ardley's flung the cross in, and what an arrive from Helguson". As so often, of course, this ignores the fact that there's already a perfectly decent, serviceable word for this, but it still works. And what an arrive from Jay Demerit. He's been increasingly impressive since he joined back in the summer, but little could prepare us for the form that he's shown since Sean Dyche moved into the treatment room. So powerful, yet composed and, more and more, astute with it. The one true star to emerge from our brush with Cardiff....

In second, it's him again. Heidar Helguson now has nearly four hundred votes overall, which is over two hundred more than Gavin Mahon's total for the whole of last season. And, mercifully, he'll be here for a while longer to see how much further than total can go. Finally, Paul Jones has not had the same impact as those two heavyweights, but his experienced presence has nonetheless been valuable during Richard Lee's absence. Although that clean sheet against Gillingham was a bit streaky....

December

Pos Player Votes
1 Heidar Helguson 87
2 Jermaine Darlington 12
3 Brynjar Gunnarsson 8

The rest:
4: Gavin Mahon; 5=: Richard Lee, Anthony McNamee; 7=: Neil Cox, Lloyd Doyley; 9: Paul Jones; 10=: Neal Ardley, Alec Chamberlain, James Chambers, Sean Dyche, Jamie Hand
Also votes for: "None of them" (and variations thereon), "Travelling fans" (and variations thereon), "the ball that found the net once for the Hornets in 450 minutes", "The kid that drums in the Rookery", "Who the bloody hell is Jason Norville?", "WIFC - Beating Luton 2-1 in the last minute!", "W4BS", Gifton Noel-Williams, Danny Dichio, "Festivities this Yuel", "My Christmas stocking contents", "Glen Hoddle - complete w*nker. I f*ckin hate Wolves." (from Dave Jones), "gudmanson", "I don't know if there is a Jason Norville Fan Club but there was a Lloyd Doyley Appreciation Society which closed due to lack of members.", "I think the people should vote to see the stephen hawking joke", "Just tell us the bloody Stephen Hawking joke!!!" (No! - Ed), "John Agyekum Kufuor - for showing that africa can do democracy", The Abonimable Dr Phibes, Ken Kercheval, Kylie's bum, Joey Deacon, Loxley Mendoza, Homo Erotica, Peter Testes, Wilf Ronstron (sic), Andrew Strauss, Colin Wanker, Phil 'The Power' Taylor, Ian Grant (Oh, you guys! - Ed), "clothes@bsad.org (great guy that Mr.C.)", "Dev out of Corrie - Soap's finest celebrity drug user (allegedly)", Jewel D'Nylle, "The 24 year old Czech piece that I'll be having again on Saturday night.", "Professor Plum, in the Billiards Room, with the Candlestick.", "Tender love and kisses are what I need", "The Hornets Foundation lottery", "The Great British Public for raising 60M in response to the Tsunami", "Lost for words...."

Votes cast:
151 (plus 47 "spoilt papers")

Not a good month. You can tell easily enough, when it takes longer to sort out the "comedy" votes than to count the real ones, and when their number takes second place by a vast margin....

Which isn't to say that there haven't been some admirable performances along the way. Despite some uncharacteristic misses, most of those performances have come from Heidar Helguson, who has now won consecutive "Player of the Month" awards and, impossibly, has overhauled Danny Webber's early lead in the overall totals. He scored December's only goal, yet far more than that: he characterised the spirit and conviction that we'll need to turn our form around. Leading by example.

Way, way back in second place, we find Jermaine Darlington on the podium for the first time. Having settled into the left back berth, his sprightly, progressive presence has been a rare ray of sunshine on some pretty gloomy afternoons. In third, and in single figures, Brynjar Gunnarsson has struggled to find his superb early season form, yet remains a vital presence in the midfield. Some things to build on in the New Year, one hopes.

November

Pos Player Votes
1 Heidar Helguson 137
2 Bruce Dyer 53
3 Brynjar Gunnarsson 40

The rest:
4: Neal Ardley; 5: Richard Lee; 6: Lloyd Doyley; 7=: Jermaine Darlington, Sean Dyche, Anthony McNamee; 10: Jay Demerit
Also votes for (Bloody hell, you lot, can't you just vote for the players?! - ed): "All of them" (and variations thereon), Ray Lewington, Elton John, Harry Redknapp, Steve Wigley, Ozzy Osbourne, The Ticket Office, The Carling Cup draw, The Abonimable Dr Phibes, Joey Deacon, Loxley Mendoza, Homo Erotica, Peter Testes, Wilf Ronstron (sic), Xavier Gravelaine, Anil Kumble, Davros, "go on, I'll give you a free ticket to the liverpool game if you show my stephen hawking joke!", "go on, show the joke about stephen hawking", "Dev out of Corrie - Soap's finest celebrity shoplifter (allegedly)", "is there actually a jason norville fan club? because if there is i wanna join", The Jason Norville Fan Club, "atmoshpere in first 20 @ West Ham", "all fans attending Home League games for the 3rd month in a row without a win...", Jewel D'Nylle, "The 24 year old Czech piece that I had on Saturday night"

Votes cast:
277

It's not like you can't see him coming. Unless you're Linvoy Primus, anyway. Heidar Helguson has had quite a month, all in all, and this result is the inevitable consequence: if you hurtle about like an absolute loon, score four important and lauded goals, and cap it all with a legendary display of cup heroics just before the voting starts, you're going to win Player of the Month by a monstrous margin. As I say, it's not as if you can't see him coming, and Danny Webber's seemingly unassailable lead in the overall totals suddenly looks very assailable after all.

A much better month for Bruce Dyer too, in a slightly more stable kinda way. Suddenly finding the net again regularly - five during October, including a brace at Leeds and important contributions to the two cup wins - he's halted the on-going debate about a return to form, hopefully permanently. The whole holding-the-ball-up and bringing-others-into-play stuff is great and all, but there's something unarguable about goals. Overdue, but never too late.

In third, Brynjar Gunnarsson has perhaps yet to make the same impact on these polls as you might expect, given that he's been the starting point for so much of our progress this season. Not quite a headline grabber, his performances have consistently laid a foundation for further achievement...and, again, he's begun to hit the net a little more too. So far, an absurdly good piece of business from the manager, and destined to feature more in the future....

October

Pos Player Votes
1 Neal Ardley 114
2 Heidar Helguson 69
3 Richard Lee 42

The rest:
4: Sean Dyche; 5=: Lloyd Doyley, Brynjar Gunnarsson; 7=: Alec Chamberlain, James Chambers, Jermaine Darlington, Gavin Mahon
Also votes for: "The Whole Team", Ray Train, "John Peel (thank you for everything)" (Hear, hear - ed), John Kerry, Peter Testes, Dr Phibes, "A Sony Discman", Crazy Cavan, Loxley Mendoza, Homo Erotica, "Dev out of Corrie - Soap's finest comic character", "come on- please show my joke about Stephen Hawking...."

Votes cast:
236

Hang on. Neal Ardley? What, that Neal Ardley? The slow, ponderous, lazy one who shouldn't be anywhere near the team, let alone clogging up the left side of midfield? That one? Who only managed about ten votes during two years at the club prior to last month's poll? Oh, okay.

It's tempting to resurrect past arguments, given that yer man was very rarely anything but a constructive, positive presence last season. He just wasn't Heidar Helguson, that's all. But it doesn't matter now, really; all that matters is that there is no argument, not any longer. Neal Ardley's ascent to the top of the assist-making charts merely confirms what our own eyes have told us: that from open play and from set pieces, his delivery has been imperious, the work of a truly class act. Whether by accident or design, that left midfield berth seems to give him the freedom that he craves, yet without compromising the side's defensive resilience. It would be an extraordinary turn-around...but is Neal Ardley our next Player of the Season?

In second, Heidar Helguson makes his first podium appearance of the campaign, as a result of some impressive, dynamic form during October that's been capped by a rash of Ardley-supplied goals. Once again, he's risen to the task, lessening the effect of a loss of confidence from Danny Webber...and the suggestion that his fifth booking might be erased, enabling him to face Southampton in the Carling Cup, is a welcome boost.

Finally, Richard Lee has finished in fourth place in each of the previous polls, and deservedly goes one better here. (In fact, the votes were divided almost entirely among this trio: Sean Dyche finished fourth with just three votes.) Growing in confidence with each game, he has decorated some very solid performances with a sprinkling of quite breathtaking saves, preventing October's shaky form from becoming anything more concerning.

September

Pos Player Votes
1 Brynjar Gunnarsson 51
2 Neal Ardley 42
3 Danny Webber 34

The rest:
4: Richard Lee; 5: Lloyd Doyley; 6: Neil Cox; 7: Heidar Helguson; 8=: Hameur Bouazza, James Chambers, Gavin Mahon
Also votes for: "All of them", "Watford fans at Millwall", Ray Lewington, Paul Robinson, Wayne Rooney, Loxley Mendoza, Peter Testes, Avid Merrion, "Ken Bigley's Head", "The adorable little blonde haired twins who were mascots for the home game against Reading", "what was wrong with my joke about Stephen Hawking?"

Votes cast:
165

Oh look, other players...!

Having wandered home in second place last month, a mere one hundred and ninety-two votes behind the winner, Brynjar Gunnarsson has his moment in the spotlight this time around...and with only ten mis-spellings (not including "Boris Becker") out of fifty-odd votes, we're getting the hang of this Icelandic business. It's very well deserved too: not a particularly eye-catching signing, perhaps, but the most consistent and dependable performer of the season so far, with unexpected quality to go alongside the expected graft. Interesting, incidentally, that the other half of an evolving, growing midfield partnership, Gavin Mahon, has thus far received just two votes.

Secondly, a joyous, landmark, remember-where-you-were moment. Two and a bit years after his arrival, Neal Ardley makes his first appearance in the "Player of the Month" top three. It's been a long wait, but it's been impossible to ignore the sheer quality of his contributions from the left side of midfield, particularly his astonishingly perceptive, instinctive reading of situations in the final third. At last, the opinion that Neal Ardley really ought to be somewhere in the starting eleven is no longer completely unfashionable. That said, nearly half of his advocates managed to call him "Neil", so we're not quite there yet....

And in third, it's him again. Danny Webber needs no introduction, and another four goals during September doesn't quite tell the full story of some devastating, hard-working performances...and some missed chances too. Will he be able to sustain it? Perhaps more importantly, will we be able to compensate if he can't? The answers to these and other questions will be revealed shortly.

Finally, honourable mentions for Richard Lee, who appears to be settling into fourth place on a permanent basis, and for Lloyd Doyley, whose impressive performances at right-back and in the centre of defence took him into double figures.

August

Pos Player Votes
1 Danny Webber 200
2 Brynjar Gunnarsson 8
3 Sean Dyche 7

The rest:
4: Richard Lee; 5: Neal Ardley; 6: James Chambers; 7=: Paul Devlin, Gavin Mahon
Also votes for: "all of them", Colin West, "Sir Elton John (Gawd bless ya' guvnor)", Avid Merrion, "the wonderful donkeys at the local donkey sanctuary", an unprintable joke about Stephen Hawking

Votes cast:
231

So much for keeping it quiet, then....

So, Danny Webber. Two hundred votes. Two hundred, for heaven's sake. That's only a few - sixty-eight, to be precise - less than Gavin Mahon received during the entirety of last season. It's more than have been cast overall on a great many occasions. And it's really not bad, especially when you consider that he was - whisper it - nothing special in half the games. That said, he was very special in the rest: it'd be easy to say that he's back, but, in truth, he was never this good with any kind of regularity before. Special, but let's try to keep it to ourselves, eh?

In a very, very distant - look, there he is, that wee speck on the horizon - second, we find Brynjar Gunnarsson, whose first month at Vicarage Road has probably exceeded expectations rather. We knew that he'd graft alongside Gavin Mahon, but his influence has been more cultured and constructive than had been suggested. Excellent, and consistently so.

And finally, Sean Dyche, the new and very obvious captain of the side. More than just a bloke with an armband, though, for a considerable and long-standing void has finally been filled, for a true, natural leader on the pitch to complement the management. It works too: we've appeared mentally stronger, capable of taking a few knocks. Promising, very promising.