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Gone but not forgotten:
Dominic Ludden
Position: Left back
From: Leyton Orient - £60,000 - August 1994
Record: Played: 35(6) Scored: 0
To: Preston North End - free transfer - May 1998
Career stats: Soccerbase
Matt was: Delighted to see him go

A survey of Watford fans on the least popular Watford player of all time would doubtless provoke a wide selection of pet hates and personal grudges. One imagines that names like Kerry Dixon, Trevor Senior and Lee Nogan might feature prominently on the leaderboard for various reasons.

But place a new slant on this question. Think back over the course of your life. Pick out one individual, be it a school acquaintance, a work colleague, the bloke in the pub with the desperately loud voice... the one person who has got on your wick, rubbed you up the wrong way more than any other.

Think about this person for a bit. Picture their face grinning, sneering, whatever, until your hackles rise.

Now imagine them in a Watford shirt... and understand why my vote in such a poll would go to Dominic Ludden.

I won't go into the the many charges against Ludden (in any case, there are several which would be too provocative to mention here). The fact that he always slagged me for supporting Watford might be enough on its own. Suffice to say that the announcement which heralded his arrival from Leyton Orient in the Summer of 1994 was probably my grimmest ten seconds in front of Ceefax (two seconds to read the news, three to read it again in disbelief, five to bellow "Noooooo" at the television in blind frustration).

The phone calls began that afternoon, some in sympathy, most just to take the piss. Even by Christmas the jokes hadn't stopped... I remember a card from a Billericay Town fan (and a soulmate who should have sympathised, having witnessed Ludden playing for his team prior to his spell at Orient). The cherubic grinning child depicted in front of tree whilst opening ribbon-adorned parcel had been annotated with a speech bubble which read: "Ahhh, Dom Ludden.... just what I wanted !".

Ludden's debut was against Middlesbrough in late 1994. He was only on the pitch for twenty minutes... Bryan Robson lured Kevin Miller into a sliding challenge on the slippery surface, the ref awarded full marks for the subsequent tumble and our Dom was off the pitch to make way for Perry Digweed. A peculiar mixture of emotions engulfed me... on the one hand, here was a young fullback getting stuck in (however briefly) and notably booting Clayton Blackmore into touch (a personal ambition of mine). On the other hand, it was Dom Ludden.

This inner torment of trying to counterbalance the yellow shirt with the jackass inside it pursued me throughout Ludden's Watford career, until an injury sustained in the home tie with Luton last season saw him stretchered out of first team contention. The revelation that has been Peter Kennedy and the emergence of the excellent Paul Robinson shut the door firmly in Ludden's face.

He'll probably get a contract with someone else. He's not a bad defender, and certainly has pace even if he does tend to get caught out of position a fair bit. It's noticable how sometimes individuals gravitate towards clubs which one senses ought to be their spiritual homes... George Graham to Leeds, David Connolly (presumably) to Wolves, David Ginola to Spurs. On this basis, expect Ludden to turn up at Southend, or maybe Millwall.

And as far as I'm concerned they're welcome to him.

Matt Rowson