News | Chamberlain Set For Hornets Farewell
Over 20 years’ unbroken service is coming to an amicable conclusion as Alec Chamberlain bids farewell to Watford to take up some new challenges in his football coaching career.
It will bring to an end a two-decade stint at Vicarage Road for the goalkeeper – 11 as a player and a further 10 as goalkeeping coach for the first-team and then latterly within the club’s Academy ranks.
‘Chambo’ earned himself legendary status among Hornets’ supporters with his season-upon-season outstanding performances as a key part of Graham Taylor’s promotion squads during both the 1997/98 and 1998/99 campaigns.
“It’s amazing to think it’s been over 20 years at Watford,” reflected Alec.
“As memories go, nothing will ever beat walking out at Wembley and then going on to keep a clean sheet to help the club get into the Premier League – although the tension of the penalty shoot-out at Birmingham in the semi-final is something that will always live with me for its raw emotion at the end of what was probably the game of my career.
“The Watford fans have always been very kind to me and that’s what made it so easy for me to stay at the same club for such a long time.”
He joked: “I know they had to forgive a certain club I’d played for before I arrived here so I’ll always be grateful for accepting me and respecting me as they did over the years!”
Chamberlain’s reference is to Luton Town, of course, where he spent five seasons before a three-year spell at Sunderland which included a promotion in 1995/96.
Born in Cambridgeshire, he graduated through the Ipswich Town youth ranks to give five seasons’ service at Colchester United and has been on the books at both Everton and Liverpool during a 27-year playing career.
“Alec’s contribution to this club is significant and will remain undiminished by the passing of time,” said Watford FC Chairman & CEO Scott Duxbury of Chamberlain’s Vicarage Road legacy.
“I first met him as the club’s goalkeeper coach, but it was clear the esteem he was held in by supporters and staff alike. That’s testament to the contributions he has made to this club over a very long period of time.”
Alec moved to Watford from Sunderland for what now looks a rather good value £40,000 in the summer of 1996. After a year of playing understudy to fellow goalkeeping favourite Kevin Miller, the latter’s move to Crystal Palace paved the way for ‘Chambo’ to don the first-team gloves.
He never looked back; continually seeing off challenges from other keepers – some recruited at significant cost, others seemingly the young pretenders to his begloved crown. All were dispatched with Alec’s usual good grace about “just doing his job” and “wanting to keep competing for a place”.
Testament to this was his second ‘Player of the Season’ crown. Having earned the honour first during the Division Two title-winning march of 1997/98, he ousted the competition under then boss Gianluca Vialli to claim the prestigious accolade a second time at the end of 2001/02.
Eventually, as with all playing careers, age provides a natural end-point, but not before Alec had metaphorically – and physically – passed over the No.1 jersey when striding out for a final Premier League appearance, replacing Ben Foster as a substitute in the final game of the 2006/07 season, aged nearly 43.
‘Chambo’ will now be looking to pursue other coaching opportunities in football. He’s currently working with ex-Watford promotion-winner Rob Page within the Wales Under-21 set-up, having already spent time coaching goalkeeping prospects at younger Welsh age groups.
“I’m sure Alec will be successful in whatever he chooses to do next and we wish him all the very best for the future. He’ll always be a very welcome visitor here at Vicarage Road,” added Duxbury.
Alec Francis Roy Chamberlain:
289 Watford appearances, two promotions, two ‘Player of the Season’ awards.
Good luck Chambo – from all players, staff and supporters here at Watford!