Boanas | “I Just Want To Get Started”

By Kevin Affleck

Watford's smart recruitment over the past month has not just been limited to the transfer market. The club have pulled off something of a coup by landing Keith Boanas as Head Coach to the club’s Ladies team.

The name may not be familiar to many outside of the women's game – but Sean Dyche knows exactly who he is. Boanas helped him on his way to becoming a Premier League manager.
"I was his tutor on his B Licence and I was the one who passed him," said Boanas.
Boanas, 57, hasn't done too badly himself. For starters, he built up the Charlton Women's set-up from scratch, turning them into such a force that they were main rivals to Arsenal for the top honours in the mid-00s.

"We were the only thorn in their side at one stage," said Boanas. "We always held our own and we beat them a few times."

They reached three successive FA Women's Cup finals so it was no wonder Boanas, who was very much the driving force, was "gutted" when the Addicks pulled the plug on the women's team when the men's team were relegated from the Premier League in 2007.
He had, during his time at Charlton, played a key role in the development of several international players, including Casey Stoney who went on to win more than a century of England caps. Indeed Stoney still holds Boanas in the highest regard and was one of the first to congratulate him after he got the Watford job.
The Estonian FA also hold him in pretty high esteem. Boanas went there in 2009 to become the Head Coach of the women's team and their Technical Director with his eyes very much wide open. He was only meant to stay three years tops but left, nearly eight years later, having doubled the number of female players playing the game and developed more than 80 female coaches, which is more than Belgium boast.

He left quite the legacy. His work led him to being awarded the Estonia Gold Star, an award usually only reserved for the country's elite sportspeople, like former Watford goalkeeper Mart Poom.
"That was a humbling day," said Boanas. "The remit was to develop the female game and affect the grassroots programme, both boys and girls. I said after one year that it was a ten-year job. I never thought I'd stay for eight. We had under 400 girls playing in the whole country when I turned up in 2009 and had girls in the national team who couldn't juggle a ball. It was about developing and going back to basics. It doesn't scare me." 

Boanas spent eight years with the Estonian Ladies set-up

It's why Boanas has no qualms about the size of the job facing him at Watford who have finished rock-bottom of The FA Women’s Super League 2 division for the past two seasons and won just three of their last 36 league games.

He loves nothing more than a spot of firefighting and starting from scratch. "I know there are problems but I'm used to that," he said. "I'm not scared by that. The meeting I had with the club went very well and I was impressed with the passion and ambition. I just want to get started, coach the team and make players better. I want to be in the technical area."
His wife, the former England goalkeeper Pauline Cope, will be glad he's got the Watford job. "I get bored sitting at home," said Boanas who lives close to Charlton's training ground. "Football is my passion and it's been my life. When I die, I'd prefer it if it was on a football pitch."
There is plenty of life in Boanas yet. Indeed, he's still turning out for a veterans team on a Sunday morning alongside Robbie Gee, the British actor who has appeared in Snatch and Pirates of the Caribbean. Football is in Boanas' DNA, you see, and his passion for the game coarses through his veins.
He refused to turn his back on the game despite the cruel twist of a double leg-break before the age of 16, robbing him of a potential pro career as a versatile defender at Chelsea. He did his coaching badges instead and now holds the UEFA Pro Licence and is a senior coach educator.

His first managerial job was at Tooting & Mitcham and he clearly talks the talk as well as walks the walk judging by the fact he laced up his boots well into his 40s during an emergency spell when the team was forced to play 12 games in 15 crazy days. They won the league that year but Boanas seems to have an uncanny knack of resurrecting teams and creating an infrastructure, even at pub football level.
"When I quit football playing in 1986, I went and brought a pub near the Old Kent Road," Boanas said. "The minute I got there the lads who used to just have a kickabout said about having a proper team. We developed the pub into three men's teams and two youth teams. It was great. I just get a buzz out of football."
Getting a buzz and the Hornets. Boanas and Watford seem like a perfect match.


Under-18: Watford 0-1 Charlton

David Horseman’s Under-18s were left feeling disappointed following a narrow defeat to Charlton Athletic on Saturday morning (February 4) at London Colney.

Hornets goalkeeper Andrew Thomas made an impressive penalty save early on, but the Addicks scored what proved to be the winner deep into first-half stoppage time. 

Horseman’s side had chances to draw level through Josh Roe, Jubril Adedeji and Treon Johnson, but it was top-of-the-table Charlton who secured all three points.

The match started at a frantic pace and within two minutes a penalty was awarded to the visitors as Mustapha Bangura-Williams was tripped.

Midfielder Albie Morgan stepped up and hit his effort low to Thomas’ right. The shot-stopper however got down superbly to deny the powerful effort and ensure the scores remained level.

The Addicks created two chances at goal midway through the half as Alex Willis firstly headed narrowly wide from a corner before he once again failed to test Thomas, heading over when well-positioned in front of goal. 

Chances finally fell Watford’s way shortly after as Roe rolled the ball to central-defender Marian Huja from a free-kick. He fired a low shot goalwards which just deflected wide off the defending wall.

Harry Forster and Johnson both went close as the former’s shot hit the side-netting before the latter just steered Roe’s delivery from a free-kick wide of the target.

The Addicks responded and were dominant for the closing stages of the half. Willis struck the bar and Bangura-Williams saw a shot well held by Thomas.

But deep into stoppage time the visitors scored what proved to be the winner. Morgan swung a corner into the box from the left which Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu met with a firm header, which he guided past Thomas. 

Forster was an impressive outlet down the left-flank and he almost set up Johnson for a simple tap-in, but for a fantastic clearance by Charlton’s Romarno Simpson, who impressed throughout the encounter.

Adedeji saw a low shot saved and Roe just diverted an excellent ball wide from David Sesay, as the Hornets looked to get back into it. 

The chances continued to fall Watford’s way but neither Johnson from a Roe corner nor Adedeji could put their side on level terms.

Thomas in goal however had to remain alert as he saved well from Morgan’s strike, before pulling off a fantastic reflex save to deny substitute James Gody.

It proved to be too little too late for the Hornets as the Addicks saw out the victory. Horseman’s side travel to QPR next weekend as they look to return to winning ways.


Despite the result, David Horseman was pleased with the positions his side got into, and the fact they created good chances against a top side.

“We started slowly in the first 10 minutes but after that I thought it was a really even game, and a good one against a side that is romping the league this year,” he said, speaking exclusively to watfordfc.com after the game.

“Between the boxes I don’t think there was much difference between the two sides. They probably had a little bit more quality in the attacking third though on the day in terms of being clinical.

"We got in great areas on so many occasions though, which was really pleasing, but the ability to pick someone out or to get in front of the man was lacking. We’ve got to be more clinical, but that’s the bit we need to keep striving to improve at the moment.”

A number of Horseman’s players from last season, notably Michael Folivi and Brandon Mason, have made first-team debuts recently, and the Under-18 Coach believes that should encourage the club’s youngsters to up their performances even more.

“There’s clearly an opportunity now at this club for the young players to progress,” he stated.

“The players train a lot with the first-team here. They train and play with the Under-23s too so there’s definitely a route into the first-team if they want it enough. That has to give the lads a boost now.

“It’s amazing to have seen Mason and Folvii make their first-team debuts recently. When it’s players you’ve spent a lot of time working with it’s fantastic, not just for myself and my staff but everyone in the Academy.”

HORNETS: Thomas (GK), Sesay, Gordon, Kaikay, Huja, Mukena, Forster, Stray (c), Adedeji, Roe, Johnson.
Subs: Lacy (GK), Harrison, Mullings, Bennetts, Tricker.