Golden Memories | Lee Sinnott

By Matt King

Lee Sinnott wasn’t born in Watford, but it was here that the building blocks of his career were put in place.

He grew up in Walsall, and it was with the Saddlers that Sinnott started out, before moving onto Watford and eventually Huddersfield Town, at opposite ends of his career.

He was just 17 years old when a move to Watford materialised, although the switch to Hertfordshire wasn’t quite what he was expecting at the time.

“I always remember we had got heavily beaten on the Saturday for Walsall, away at Bolton,” said Sinnott, speaking to watfordfc.com ahead of this Saturday's game between his two former clubs. “I won’t tell you the score but it was a big’un!

“I had got booked for mouthing off at the referee and I got called into the office on the Monday morning. I thought I was going to get fined by the manager Alan Buckley.

“But he said ‘no, we’ve accepted a bid from Watford and we’re off down there now’. It really was a case of ‘right, you’re going!’. I said goodbye to my Mum on the Monday morning and then I was gone.”

Sinnott is warm, effusive, funny and most importantly honest as he takes a self-reflective trip down memory lane.

“But in saying that, going to Watford made me the player I was,” he said.

“You never know what will happen in your career but it was most certainly a career defining moment when I got transferred to Watford.

“I had great coaching there – Graham Taylor was magnificent – but I’m also talking about Steve Harrison, John Ward and Tom Walley.

“If I hadn’t had that coaching I don’t know if I’d have had the longevity of the career that I had.

“I was young then and John McClelland was in his mid-20s, but I could see the mid-20s John in me when I got to that age.

“We played the game in a similar way. We weren’t out-and-out number fives, we were like a number six playing off a big man, mopping up and seeing where the danger was.

“But if I hadn’t had that coaching, you don’t know if the penny would have dropped. They were vitally important, those years.”

When the time comes to move on – especially from a place that has had such a dramatic impact on you as a person and as a professional – it can often be a difficult decision to take, but Sinnott speaks with a clarity that indicates he feels justified, vindicated even, in his choice to move to Bradford in 1987.

“It got to a position where I had to move after four years at Watford. I remember Dave Bassett came in. Dave had his own way of doing things but I had to move for myself anyway.

“I wanted to be playing regular football so I went to Bradford and played four seasons of 46 games each season on the trot, which is what I needed at that time.”

Bradford led to Crystal Palace, a second spell at Valley Parade then beckoned, before Sinnott found his feet again in a three-year spell at Huddersfield.

But he was now a very different player to the one that had left Watford in 1987. He wasn’t as fast as when he was 17, but who is? He was now a vastly experienced defender joining a side on the up.

“They always say that about football, you’ve got young legs but no brain. As you go through your career the experience comes a bit but the legs go.

“I still had the legs at the beginning at Huddersfield. I really enjoyed my time there. I went there at Christmas time and I still remember my first game was away at Hull, which is where I live now.

“At the end of the season we went to the play-off final. We beat Bristol Rovers 3-2 under Neil Warnock’s stewardship and it was extremely enjoyable.”

And it’s with Watford and Huddersfield where Sinnott’s career comes full circle, joined together at the top of the loop by one special place, the hallowed turf at Wembley.

“These two teams figured in the two biggest footballing 90 minutes of my career. With Watford it was the 1984 FA Cup final and with Huddersfield it was the Division One play-off final.

“They were both good days but one had a better outcome than the other, obviously!”

And now, three decades since Sinnott left Hertfordshire, the two sides meet in the top division for the first time since the Premier League was formed.

“For them to meet now, together, it’s a magnificent achievement for both clubs to be in the Premier League,” he said.

“Obviously, it’s all new for Huddersfield Town, while Watford have more of a history with it. But it’s always a challenge for most clubs to stay in the Premier League.

“I watch it all on TV and I see how Vicarage Road has changed, many, many years since I Ieft. 30 years, in fact. Wow!”

Pick up a copy of the programme on Saturday to find out who Sinnott chose in a best XI of ex-teammates from Watford and Huddersfield.


Last Six | Huddersfield

By Sammy Brough

There's been some corkers between Watford and Huddersfield over the years. Take a look at the last six meetings between the sides ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash at The Vic.

January 10, 2015
The John Smith’s Stadium
Huddersfield 3-1 Watford

Despite an Odion Ighalo goal, the most recent fixture against the Terriers ended in defeat. Goals from Nahki Wells, James Vaughan and an acrobatic overhead kick by Joel Lynch gave Chris Powell and his side all three points.

The match saw Mexican defender Miguel Layun handed a debut for the Hornets, in the swirling Yorkshire wind and rain – not the warmest of welcomes to English football!

The Golden Boys had been in excellent form, winning four of the previous five league matches, before being drawn away to Chelsea in the FA Cup, a match in which Watford went down 3-0 against a Blues side leading the Premier League title race.

Manager Slavisa Jokanovic expressed his disappointment after the game at Huddersfield stating: “We only played for about 10 minutes.”

August 30, 2014
Vicarage Road
Watford 4-2 Huddersfield

Now this was a game.

A brace from Almen Abdi, a Troy Deeney strike and an unlikely goal from Keith Andrews gave Giuseppe Sannino’s 10-man Hornets all three points.

Gabriel Tamas’ red card 25 minutes from time didn’t stop the Hornets from scoring another two goals to win the game, moving them to within a point of then leaders Nottingham Forest.

After levelling twice, Huddersfield were finally put to the sword when Andrews fired the Hornet’s in front, before Abdi completed the scoring in injury time with The Vic well and truly rocking.

May 3, 2014
Vicarage Road
Watford 1-4 Huddersfield

The Hornets’ 10-game unbeaten run at home came to end when Huddersfield’s Danny Ward came off the bench to score a hat-trick on the final day of the 2013/14 season.  

A Troy Deeney penalty was the only thing for the Hornets’ faithful to cheer about at Vicarage Road.

One of the few positives to take was youth team striker Alex Jakubiak making his first-team debut. The Scottish U19 international was handed a start playing up front alongside Troy Deeney, and didn’t look at all out of place.

Finishing 13th in the Championship that season with 60 points, Watford were one of the best teams for using Academy sourced players in the division, only second to Middlesbrough. There were in total eight-academy players used throughout the season.

October 5, 2013
The John Smith’s Stadium
Huddersfield 1-2 Watford

Goals from the livewire Fernando Forestieri and wing-back Daniel Pudil gave the Hornets three points having being a goal down in 2013.

Watford’s fourth win in five games came courtesy of two first-half strikes, a brilliant volleyed effort by Forestieri and a goal by the re-signed Pudil enough to seal the victory away to the Terriers.

The three points saw Watford move up to fourth in the table, in an open and entertaining fixture. Just 11 games into the Championship campaign, Gianfranco Zola’s promotion-focused side were becoming known as one of the most free-scoring in the division, with 22 goals already.

Zola complimented Forestieri after the match, making it known the Argentine-Italian had been the difference: “Forestieri was the best player on the pitch. He was quite a handful, holding up the ball and creating space.”

January 19, 2013
Vicarage Road
Watford 4-0 Huddersfield

Back-to-back victories over the Terriers in the 12/13 season came thanks to a Matej Vydra brace, a Troy Deeney penalty and a Cristian Battocchio goal. Deeney, who opened the scoring from the spot, was making his 100th appearance for the club, with Vydra bagging his 16th for the season.

Vydra’s double kept the Hornet’s at the top of the goalscoring table, finishing the season with 85 goals scored. New signing Cristian Battocchio netted his first of the campaign as well. The Argentine-Italian joined from Udinese on loan, along with 11 other players that season.

September 29, 2012
The John Smith’s Stadium
Huddersfield 2-3 Watford

This trip to West Yorkshire was the first for new manager Gianfranco Zola, following the Pozzo family take-over. The Hornet’s had signed 18 players at the start of the 12/13 season.

It’s was a rip-roaring affair. Despite going a goal down, Fernando Forestieri levelled proceedings. Another new arrival, ‘One-Size’ Fitz Hall, then put Zola’s men in front when he converted a Mark Yeates cross.

Huddersfield’s Alan Lee equalised late on, but when referee Gary Sutton pointed to the spot, Troy Deeney had the chance to clinch all three points. A chance he took, scoring his first under the new regime.