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Gone but not forgotten:
Sean Dyche
Position: Centre-back
From: Millwall - free transfer - July 2002
Record: Played: 74(4) Scored: 0
To: Northampton Town - free transfer - July 2005
Career stats: Soccerbase
See also: Past player profiles
He was: A big, ugly centre-back.

Every team needs one of these.

Just like every family needs the child whose parents' evenings are dreaded, every factory needs a guard dog and every website, apparently, needs a fish-on-a-stick (private joke.)

Sean Dyche cannot skip down the wing, dancing past defenders. He cannot whip in a succession of crosses, planted right onto the head of the centre-forward. He can't pick out a sixty-yard crossfield ball and delicately execute it with the outside of his boot.

In short, he is not a player you would expect to see in white boots.

What he can do, however, is kick the ball. Hard. And head it probably even harder. He can tackle, he can shield and he can hold off some pretty big strikers. He can think ahead, that skill that all thirty-something centre-backs need in order to gain improbable personal victories over younger, more sprightly opponents. And he can shout.

I should imagine the Manager's Handbook says, somewhere in Chapter 1: 'Find a big, ugly centre-back and make him your captain'. So Ray Lewington did.

Not immediately, mind. Dychey arrived in that post-Vialli, oh bloody hell what have we done? summer of 2002, one of Ray Lewington's earliest signings. Amid the gathering gloom at that time, his capture was a glimmer of light; it's always good to see the fans of a player's last club berating the decision to let him go. It appeared we had got the better of the Dyche + 500k / Ward swap. Yet, rather like Bruce Dyer's return was scuppered by the unexpected capture of Danny Webber, Dyche soon found himself out of the team, replaced by the unlikeliest of rivals, Marcus Gayle.

His first taste of the Watford captaincy wasn't a roaring success, either: He was sent off, lunging at the goalkeeper moments after being booked in the pre-FA Cup Quarter-final game against quite the worst Preston side you could ever hope to see. We lost, by the way. And earlier that season we had seen Dyche The Striker, thrown forward in a desperate attempt to claw something back that dreadful night the Hatters came to town. It was never likely to work.

These incidents aside, Dyche was unlucky. He didn't do a lot wrong, other than time his arrival to coincide with the dawning of the Cox-Gayle partnership. It was only at the back end of the 2003/4 season that he really established himself as a first team regular, and so it came as something as a surprise when he was appointed captain for the 2004/5 season, Neil Cox having decided it wasn't for him. That said, our lack of 'leaders' was one of the issues many supporters pointed to as a contributory factor to our demise, so Sean could have got the job by default.

Dychey played his last Watford game in January, in our 1-0 win over Millwall. We only kept five more clean sheets after that, three of them when Alec came back into the side. How Ray Lewington would have loved to have had Sean Dyche out there during March. How Demerit, Chambers et al could have done with someone alongside them to puff out his chest and rally the troops.

Sean Dyche, injuries aside, was a great captain. He spoke impressively at a fans' forum, and when he wasn't playing he still seemed involved from the touchline. On the pitch his leadership was there for all to see; sadly, injuries meant he, and any sort of leadership, were often conspicuous by their absence.

In our Brave New World, there is no room for a Sean Dyche. He is not quick. He is not young. He's not on an 'Upward Curve' in his career. But I for one will take some convincing that our loss isn't Northampton's gain.

All the best, Sean. You gave us everything you were capable of giving. Most Watford supporters will always settle for that, even if it does mean eighteenth place.

Mike Smart

During his final season at Watford, Sean Dyche coined the perfect description of himself in an interview with the club website. 'I'm not a fashion item,' he said. No indeed, Sean. Fortunately though, when something becomes a necessity, you worry less about what it looks like. Sean Dyche was the footballing equivalent of ig's bag - ugly, but hard-wearing, rugged and reliable; no thing of beauty but perfect for its purpose.

Peter Goddard