From: Youth team
Record: Played: 0 Scored: 0
To: ??? - free transfer - May 2002
He was: Genuine
Tom Neill was a genuine Watford fan. Not just a local lad who came to the bigger games, but the sort of person who, as a kid, used to be seen down at Woodside with his Dad on a Saturday morning, watching the youth team play.
After years of watching them, Tom went onto represent the youth side, and after a year spent impressing the gathered masses as a combative and versatile defender, Tom was awarded the captaincy of the team. Could another local boy work his way up through the ranks to lead his team for twenty years?
In short, no! While Fisken, Doyley, McNamee et al have been given at least a chance in this season of transition, Tom plugged away in the reserves with the professionalism of a player keen to make the step up. But as it became clear that Doyley would be the manager's choice and, with Tom on only a one-year contract, the writing was on the wall by Christmas.
Maybe if there were no ITV Digital crisis, Tom would have received a contract extension. Somehow, however, I feel that it is doubtful, as any management team that can seriously employ Patrick Blondeau in any defensive capacity surely needs a good (metaphorical) slap.
Good luck, Tom. In another era things might have been different. But apparently we have to make the best of this mess.