Time Capsules: Nigel Gibbs' New Attacking Role (1997)

By: Watford FC Staff

In our 'Time Capsules' series, we dive into the Watford FC archives to re-publish a classic interview from an historic matchday programme.

For our sixth instalment, we re-visit a player profile interview with Nigel Gibbs – the player with the most starts for Watford in the club's history.

In this interview the defender reflects on a fine start to the season, discusses about his own change in position, and ponders whether his more attacking role will lead to him getting amongst the goals...

The Programme

  • Season: 1997/98
  • Match: Watford 3-1 Brentford
  • Date: Saturday August 23, 1997
  • Manager: Graham Taylor
  • Competition: Nationwide League Division Two

The Article


Nigel Gibbs has been a member of the Watford FC playing staff for some 14 years and at present there's no sign of him hanging up his boots. That's good news, not only for Watford supporters who saw Nigel make the number two shirt his own in the mid-1980s, but also for the editor of this programme – who was at school with Nigel all those years ago. Nigel's enthusiasm and drive are as evident now as they were when he made his début for the first team in 1983, in the UEFA Cup.

Having said that, his time in the game has taught him to be cautious when talking about the future.

“I'm just pleased to be in the team. It's a new role for me at wing-back – last year I played one of the three centre-halves – I'm enjoying it and obviously I want to be playing and if that's the position for me in the team, that's good enough for me.”

The early performances of the Hornets belie the fact that many of them are new to the team.

“We're very fit and we're playing a different system to last season and it seems to be coming together. Most of the players are playing very well. It's a combination of these things which means you're going to do well.

“I think we can still improve though, that's the nice thing about it. I don't think we're playing to our full potential, but we have gelled reasonably well – we had a good pre-season and obviously the trip to Finland helped a lot with getting to know the new players, and things have started well for us. But the nice thing is that we can get better.”

Do old pros like Nigel worry about the competition for places which is bound to arise when a squad becomes as strong as the Watford squad certainly is now?

“There are a lot of good new players and at the moment the number-two shirt is mine, but obviously that could change – there are other players who could play in that role, but I'm pleased to be involved and I've just got to keep performing well.

“You've got to have the competition. I don't really think it's something you worry about, it's just battling for places and every successful team has got that. That sort of competitive squad is what the boss is trying to get and has to get if we're going to do well this season.”

And will the team go all the way this season, or is it too early to say?

“Yeah, it is. It really is much too early to talk like that. It's just a good start, we do seem to be gelling well and there's more to come from us I'm sure. But there's a long way to go.”

Whatever the future brings for both Nigel and Watford, seasons don't often start as well as this for any club in any division.

“Off the top of my head I can't remember making a start like this. Not in recent years anyway. Last year we struggled at the start and I think it's vital to get a few wins under your belt early on. That first home win was a great way to kick off the season and then two away wins - one against higher division opposition - it certainly bodes well, but as I said, it's early days yet.”

The only question remaining is whether Nigel sees himself getting amongst the goals in a more attacking role this season - a thing he's not been noted for in the past.

“Well, hopefully,” he says with a smile. “I'm playing further forward, so I will definitely be looking to add to my tally.”

Off the top of my head I can't remember making a start like this. Not in recent years anyway. Last year we struggled at the start and I think it's vital to get a few wins under your belt early on.
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