Jakubiak | “Somewhere I Could Develop”
Photo credit: Falkirk FC
It was a busy window of transfer action for the Hornets' Under-23s. Hayden Mullins is short of seven members of his squad as they serve important apprenticeships in men's football, from St Albans to Accrington all the way to Dundee.
Alex Jakubiak is a veteran of loan moves. His stint at Falkirk in the Scottish Championship is the latest of six temporary spells for the London-born striker, who has tasted 'real football' in between goal-laden periods with the Under-23s in their Professional Development League games.
None of his loans have been as fruitful as this has started, though. Whether goals breed confidence or vice-versa, Jakubiak is on a roll.
His double against Cove Rangers in the Scottish Cup at the weekend made it four goals and an assist in five appearances, and three of those came from the bench. His brace sent the Bairns into the Quarter-Final, with a trip to a 33-time winner of the competition the reward.
“They were important for the team,” said Jakubiak of his most recent goals, speaking to watfordfc.com.
“They were early in the first-half and early in the second-half. It pushed us on in tough conditions. The last one killed off the game and put us into the Quarter-Final.
“I really enjoyed that feeling of scoring two important goals, goals that were big for the team.
“We have Rangers in the next game, at Ibrox. For me that's a massive game. To play in that stadium in front of those fans. I'm looking forward to it and so is everyone else.”
A move to the lowlands of Scotland might seem a strange move for a 21-year-old but Jakubiak has an unlikely affinity for a town that was once a hub in Scotland's iron industry.
Blink and you'll miss a blue commemorative plaque outside the town's Howgate Centre, dedicated to two secretive inventors of the 1920s.
One of the pair, an electrical engineer, owned the shop where much of the ground-breaking work in developing the first television was achieved.
“My great grandad on my mum's side was John Hart and he was born and lived all his life in Falkirk,” the former Scottish youth cap explained.
“My gran was born there too and moved to London before she had my mum. He had a shop in the town centre, and the place that he worked was where one of the first televisions was invented.
“My mum and my gran are definitely proud of me going back to where it all started for them in Scotland. They're buzzing about it.”
It was a nice touch, one of the pros when deciding where would be next on his journey. But sentiment didn't get in the way of a decision that was made just as much for footballing reasons.
Jakubiak knows as well as anyone that you don't always get what you deserve as a youngster out on loan. Forty-three substitute appearances and not half as many starts are testament to that.
It makes sense then that Jakubiak did his due diligence before agreeing to the long trip north.
“It was a big decision for me,” he mused.
“I've been on loan five times before now. I found it difficult in Oxford when I was younger, being away from home, but as I've got a bit older, being more independent I think has helped me develop as a person. It's far from home, but I'm enjoying it up here.
“I was told Falkirk were interested just before Christmas and I actually went up there on Boxing Day to train with them for a couple of days and watched their match against Queen of the South on the 30th which they won 3-2.
“I was impressed with what I saw and enjoyed it and felt like it was somewhere I could come and develop and also help improve the team.”
It's not exactly an easy gig.
The Bairns have been stuck in the second tier since relegation from the Premiership on a gutting final day in 2010. Despite some close-run seasons since, the current campaign sees the two-time Scottish Cup winners battling for survival.
Jakubiak's arrival has coincided with a lift in performances, though. Paul Hartley's men have had a better rub of the turf, are playing with a bit more guile and are giving themselves a fighting chance, maybe more.
“I don't think the league position is a true reflection on the club or the players at the club,” he explained.
“It's a big club, Falkirk. I was surprised to see them struggling in the league. Since Christmas they've picked up results. It's been frustrating for the fans, they expect more.
“The league position isn't a true reflection of how good this team is or how good the club is.
“Everyone is positive. We only have 13 or so games left and the cup game against Rangers. I think we're just going to win as many games as we can. Mathematically we can still get the play-offs, but realistically we have to just take it game-by-game and keep going until the end of the season and see how far up the table we can get.”
Jakubiak, who made his debut for the Hornets’ first-team back in 2014, isn’t taking anything for granted. A look at his goal celebrations, particularly in front of the 750 travelling fans at Cove Rangers at the weekend, indicate someone enjoying their football, but he wants more.
“I've done well to work my way into the team and I want to keep my spot. I'll keep pushing on and get as many goals as I can before now and the end of the season.”