First Team 17/11/2017

Hornets At Heart Of Community For 25 Years

This weekend the Hornets' home game versus West Ham United is dedicated to the Community Sports and Education Trust, in celebration of the 25th year anniversary of Watford Football Club at the heart of the community. Read on to find out why we are celebrating and click below to find out what's planned for this weekend. 

Trust | 25-Year Anniversary Matchday

Season 2017/2018 launches the celebration of the 25th anniversary for Watford Football Club at the heart of its community.

Watford has always been a football club for the community. During the early 1980s the club's community ethos really took form, driven by manager at the time, Graham Taylor OBE, with the full support of owner Sir Elton John.

As the first football club to include a designated Family Enclosure - and then a Family Terrace at Vicarage Road - Watford had created a revolutionary, fence-free hooligan-beating concept that soon saw many other clubs follow suit.

It didn’t stop in the stadium on a matchday, as Watford’s players were actively encouraged to engage with local people via appearances at community events and activities; the start of a tradition that is now ingrained within the make-up of the club. 

And so the idea had been created and it began to pick up traction, as in the early 1990s one member of staff was tasked with increasing football participation in the community using Watford FC’s brand. It is this fixed point that brings about the celebration of the 25th year of Watford FC Community Outreach later this year.

The popularity and diversity of activities offered meant the initiative continued to grow and by 2002 it employed five full-time members of staff as well as a number of sessional coaches.

The community scheme not only encouraged participation in a wide range of activities, it also played an important role in addressing a range of social issues such as employability, inclusion and education.

As a result of the positive outcomes achieved, it was decided to turn the scheme into a charitable entity in order to take Watford FC’s community outreach programme to a new level.

Watford FC’s Community Sports and Education Trust was then established as a registered charity in April 2004 and since then its delivery and impact have continued to go from strength to strength.

A flurry of awards soon followed in recognition of the Trust’s outstanding work in the community; in 2006 there was success at the Sportsmatch Annual Awards, taking home both the 'Best Community Sports Project' and 'Best Overall Grassroots Scheme' awards. Then in 2008 and later on in 2010, the Trust ensured the Hornets were voted 'Football League Community Club of the Year'.

Next up for the Trust was an evolution in terms of positive engagement with local people, making the decision to invest in community hubs to directly interact with residents.

Cedars Youth and Community Centre in the London Borough of Harrow opened in 2012 and would go on to achieve the Gold London Youth Quality Mark in 2016. The Trust’s second project of this kind was the £1.8 million redevelopment of Meriden Community Centre in Watford, officially reopening in 2016. 

Now, with a continual increase in workforce, project delivery, participation and positive outcomes, Watford Football Club’s Community Sports and Education Trust can be regarded as one of the country’s best community providers and is constantly seeking to drive that forward.

This commemorative year gives the football club, the Trust and all those who have been involved in projects or activities over the years the chance to celebrate in style. There will be a host of events and unique content throughout this season, so keep your eyes peeled and show your support where you can.


Opposition Focus | West Ham

Sam Inkersole, the West Ham correspondent at Football.London, tells you everything you need to know about Sunday's Premier League opponents.

Were you sorry to see Slaven Bilic go?

“It was very sad. He was excellent to deal with and a real nice guy, but he just lost his way in the end. It was a shame that he went but it was the right decision. He had to go. It's a results business and two wins this season says a lot. It was only nine last season so 11 in a season and a bit is not really what is required or expected, especially after they finished seventh the season before that.

“It just went downhill quite quickly. While no-one likes to see managers sacked, especially guys as nice as Bilic, they had to bite the bullet as there was a risk of getting relegated.”

Is David Moyes the right man to replace the popular Croat?

“Ask me come Sunday evening. He's said the right things since he's come in and the club have been on a real charm offensive with regards to their media output. There have been plenty of media appearances, interviews, videos of training sessions and players being interviewed talking about the new manager. I think there is no question he'll keep them in the division as he's inherited a better squad than he did at Sunderland, but is he the man for the long term? Probably not.”

How have the fans reacted to the appointment?

“It's been mixed to say the least. There are those saying they're not coming back to the London Stadium while Moyes is in charge and then there are those who want to give him a chance and see what he can do.

“The reaction has generally not been good but in the last fortnight, during the international break, they've warmed to him a bit and they've come round to the idea. They seem to have accepted it now.”

What is top of Moyes' to-do list?

“He needs to keep them in the Premier League first and foremost. That's what he's been brought in to do, to stop them sliding into the Championship. He should do that. He needs to get the fitness levels up because that was poor under Bilic.

“They've also got to try and stop leaking goals like they have been for the last season and a half. They simply can't keep clean sheets. Moyes has also got to try and get players back into form, particularly someone like Andy Carroll who has not had much of an impact. Moyes has got to galvanise the squad as there is no way that squad should be in the relegation zone. They are more than good enough to be mid-table, but no more than that.”

Slaven Bilic lost his job after a run of two wins in 11 Premier League games

Nobody has conceded more goals in the Premier League than the Hammers this season. Shoring the backline up surely has got to be one of Moyes' priorities...

“Bilic was a centre-half, so if anyone was going to sort it out you thought it might be him. He tried four at the back and five at the back but it's just not worked. The backline has not got any pace, that's the problem. Winston Reid, James Collins, Jose Fonte and Angelo Ogbonna are not the quickest and they are in serious bother when you run at them or get in behind. Declan Rice could start as he's got a bit of pace about him, but he's only young.

“They are just so susceptible to counter-attacks. Liverpool destroyed them last time and showed how badly West Ham struggle when they come up against pace. It doesn't help that the defenders are not in form and that has led to some clumsy mistakes, like the penalty Ogbonna conceded at Crystal Palace. Zabaleta has given away two penalties this season but, having said that, he's been the best player.”

Will Moyes have a fully-fit squad to choose from for his first game in charge?

“Hernandez will be out as he picked up a hamstring on international duty for Mexico against Belgium. I really don't think he'll play. Michail Antonio is probably going to be out, too. He won't train until later this week so I can't see him making it.

“Moyes will have to see how fatigued Winston Reid is after playing for New Zealand in Peru, while James Collins should be fit after an ankle problem. Sam Byram, the second choice right-back, is definitely out with a thigh injury.”

The Hammers paid an awful lot of money in the summer for Marko Arnautovic. Has he justified his club-record transfer fee?

"Getting sent off in his second game really set him back. It was a horrible challenge on Southampton's Jack Stephens, he deserved to go and that stopped his career before it even really got started. He's really underwhelmed so far and we've only seen flashes in the League Cup.

“He's been kept out of the team by Andre Ayew, who has found form in the past month with three goals and an assist. Arnautovic has got a lot to prove, a heck of a lot, not just to Moyes but to the fans. They've not been impressed so far.”

What about Joe Hart?

"Not bad. He's come in for a fair amount of stick given the amount of goals West Ham have conceded but they've not really been down to him. The defending in front of him has been horrendous at times. There are a couple he might have done better with but, generally, he's an upgrade on Adrian and Darren Randolph. I doubt he'll stay beyond this season. It will take a lot of convincing to get him to stay, that's for sure.”

England goalkeeper Joe Hart hasn't had it all his own way this season with the Hammers

Javier Hernandez was another big summer signing. How's he performed?

"He's done alright, without being spectacular. He's the top scorer with four but I think everyone hoped he would have a few more. He's been played out of position, wide on the right in a front three. Playing a striker and a poacher who likes to get in the box basically on the wing was criminal.

“Understandably he's flattered to deceive out there and he certainly hasn't liked being substituted. It will be interesting to see how he goes under Moyes as he's got previous with him – it was Moyes who sent him on loan to Real Madrid. He's probably got a point to prove to Moyes but it looks like he could potentially miss the next three with this hamstring problem.”

The game on Sunday feels a significant one. We need to end a run of three straight defeats and it's Moyes' first in charge of the Hammers.

“It's massive, it's huge. With so many sceptics out there who don't think he should have got the chance to manage West Ham, Moyes needs to get off to a flyer and get the fans on board. He's been saying and doing all the right things, but he needs to translate that into wins on the pitch.

“He needs a quick start and this one, on paper, is winnable. Then it's Leicester and Everton, which again are two more winnable games. After that they've got a brutal December with Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal in three successive games, so they need a good start against Watford.”

We have suffered a mini dip of late but we are still riding high in ninth. What have you made of our start to life under Marco Silva?

"You've been good, very good. I like what I've seen of Richarlison. Like most, I'd never heard of him but he looks a real gem. I rate Marco Silva very highly, too. He gave Hull a fighting chance and has now made a brilliant start with Watford. The last three matches have clearly not gone to plan but I'm sure West Ham would have loved him as their manager when they were looking to replace Bilic. He's clearly overachieving at Watford and I've been really impressed with how they have done so far this season.”