By Kevin Affleck
Craig Cathcart was so focused on captaining the team for the first time that he overlooked the fact Saturday’s game at St James' Park marked a double milestone in his career.
The defender made his 150th Watford appearance, a total accrued over two spells with the Hornets, and also clocked up his 300th club career appearance in the 1-1 draw at Newcastle. And yet the Northern Irishman had to be reminded about the two landmarks by the club's kit man.
“I didn't have a clue,” said Cathcart on Added Time. “DJ (the kit man) said, ‘Do you want your shirt?’ And I was like, ‘What for?’ It wasn't on my mind at all. It was a nice milestone to hit and I just want to get as many [games] as I can and carry on.”
Cathcart was first identified as a leader in his youth team days at Manchester United. He captained the youth team to the final of the Youth Cup in 2007, although he missed both legs because he was called up to the first team and then injured his knee. He has been passed the armband before in a senior game but never worn it from the off.
“I'm very proud,” he said. “It's nice to be captain for the day. It's the first time I've captained from the start since the youth team, a long time ago. It was a good day. Unfortunately, we didn't get the win, but we've got our first point on the board.”
The 30-year-old is a private individual and he preferred to issue his rallying call in the dressing room rather than in the huddle just prior to kick-off.
“We didn't do it on the pitch,” he said. “I just said to the lads before we went out that we need to be ready to go – we don't need to say any more. We need to do our talking on the pitch. We got off to a great start, but it wasn't to be.”
Cathcart played on the left-hand side of a newly-configured three-man defence at St James' Park. It took a little while to get to grips with the new set-up, but then Cathcart, Christian Kabasele and Craig Dawson warmed to their task. Cathcart made two blocks from the same corner, Dawson won a towering header against Joelinton and piled through the back of the Brazilian in the process while Kabasele produced the intervention of the match to deny Miguel Almirón in the second half.
“The first 10-15 minutes we played a bit high and they got in behind a couple of times, but after we felt pretty comfortable,” he said. “We matched them up. Any time you concede you are disappointed. We wanted that clean sheet as we haven't had one for a while. It was a bit unlucky the way it dropped to him [Fabian Schär] but he's put it away well.
“Overall, we defended quite well. They had us pinned in at times and we defended really well and Fozzie made a couple of great saves. We are happy with a point, but we are really disappointed not to come here and get the win as we had a few opportunities ourselves.
“We now have to pick ourselves up as the next one is the most important one. We're looking forward to the Arsenal game. We can refresh our minds and give a great performance against Arsenal.”