SAFC v Watford Who are You?: ‘your garden shed may be bigger than this, but …’

Ben with Danny Graham
Ben Clarke with Danny Graham

OK, he didn’t exactly anticipate the song our supporters will be singing at Vicarage Road later in the season. But our Watford ‘Who are You?’ interviewee Ben Clarke makes it clear that for him, stadium size doesn’t matter. And he has good cause to be happy with what he, among the regular 21,000 sell-out attendances, has seen so far. They have not only been getting some decent results, taking them to 10th place, they’ve also been easy on the eye. Ben doubts the club can maintain such a lofty position for any newly promotion side, but nor does he expect a serious relegation threat. Here are his answers to our questions. Ben expresses his views on football succinctly but he is a home-and-away regular so his opinions count. As for SAFC, he likes the club and feels Big Sam will save us, but only just …

Salut! Sunderland: Gino Pozzo, Raffaele Riva and Quique Sánchez Flores – hardly names that trip off every tongue but they seem to be doing a grand job between them as owner, chairman and head coach of Watford. What’s gone so right?

Ben Clarke: In a nutshell everything, everything the owners have said they will do they have done. From the ground, to money to promotion.

Promotion was a terrific achievement in itself but you must be thrilled by what has happened in the Premier so far – a fluke or something to last?

Great start and every game we have done ourselves proud but there is still a long way to go.

Ighalo, Deeney, Gomes all get plenty of praise but who else has been key to your results, and where are you still weak?

The defence has been great also, but I do feel we need another attacking midfielder or give Ibarbo or Berghuis a game who joined for nearly £5m in the summer.

And how far realistically can Watford go? Being London area makes recruitment easier than for us but would you have to leave Vicarage Road or massively extend it to move up a level?

We sell out every game, 21k now, and we have planning permission for another tier on the new stand which would take us to 26k but let’s take it one step at a time. Wolves spent massive money on their stadium and then got relegated.

 Jake: 'a game we have to win, Lads - unless you're planning smash and grab raids at Stamford Bridge and the Etihad''
Jake: ‘a game we have to win, Lads – unless you’re planning smash and grab raids at Stamford Bridge and the Etihad”

What have been your highs and lows of supporting Watford?

Highs have been the attacking football of the last few seasons, the highest high was Denney’s goal v Leicester in the play offs after they missed their penalty, amazing scenes.

And how does the present squad compare with those you previously considered the best seen in Watford colours?

As a squad this is the best I think I have ever seen in 18 seasons as a season ticket holder, but the team of 2005 that won promotion with King/Henderson/Young and co were fantastic.

Name the guilty men: who should never have been allowed inside Vicarage Road?

As owner, Laurence Bassini… of the players, Matthew Briggs (he was on loan and must of cost us at least seven points and a big reason we didn’t go up automatically 2 seasons ago).

How active is Sir Elton as a supporter these days and how do you asess the legacy of Graham Taylor?

Graham Taylor is a Watford legend. When I was younger and we had a lot of off-the-field problems it always felt all right when Graham was about. Elton comes occasionally to the games and last season we named a stand after him. Troy Deeney says Elton quite often rings him after a game.

Were you surprised by our dreadful start or did you see it coming?

If I’m honest I saw it coming, the last few seasons you seem to leave it late before you get the points in.

If not in the last reply, what is your assessment of Big Sam’s credentials for getting us out of it?

He is the best man for you. He will grind out results and stop you conceding.

And what are you general impressions of Sunderland – the club, the fans, the city, the region?

My good mate Paul Grafton is born and bread Sunderland so I always keep an eye out for your results, great ground and fans. As for the city, er… Joking, great place.

What will be this season’s top four in order?

Man City, Man Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool

The bottom three? Plus where our sides will finish if not mentioned?

Bournemouth, Villa and Norwich. Sunderland 4th bottom and Watford 15th.

One step the football authorities or Watford FC should take to improve the lot of ordinary fans?

Ticket prices. We are fairly reasonable but £36.50 for adult tickets against West Brom etc for a family club, so to speak, seems high #twentysplenty.

Best ref, worst ref in the Premier?

So far this season they haven’t been too bad. As long as Stuart Atwell stays away after the ghost goal at home to Reading!!!

How good are your players at diving and all the other forms of cheating that go on in football? A cheeky way of asking whether it’s so prevalent that we should all stop worrying about it .

Despite all the nationalities, I think we play fair and don’t dive if I’m honest.

Will you be at our game and what will be the score?

Yes I will be and I’m thinking 1-1.

  Jake: 'catch this season's full series so far at'
Jake: ‘catch this season’s full series so far at
Ben Clarke on himself: I have had a season ticket for 18 seasons and me and my mates do about 80 per cent of the away games every season. Last three seasons, I have done very game home and away.

Interview: Colin Randall

Share this post

3 thoughts on “SAFC v Watford Who are You?: ‘your garden shed may be bigger than this, but …’”

  1. Good honest WAY . I wish Watford well , always had a bit of a soft spot for them and looked out for their results , but not today !

  2. Watford A will never be the same now that plodging through the allotments is no longer necessary to access the away end! Progress eh?

Comments are closed.

Next Post