#COVID19Chronicles-97: July 20, 2020: Passengers? All change for Watford!

Normally, if you Google ‘Pearson, passengers’ you’d get results for flights into Toronto’s main airport. But, if you add ‘Watford’ you get this:

Well, Watford’s manager, Nigel Pearson, was clearly feeling that some of his players were just going along for the ride when saying some were ‘passengers’. That’s one of the low blows not usually given by managers in public about their players and Pearson got a bit of stick from several TV pundits for his remarks. But, for his frankness, I suspect, which may be a sign that he has lost faith in the team, he will no longer be a passenger on the team bus as he was sacked yesterday with 2 games to play.

This comes hot on the heels of his now former team capitulating in a relegation battle with West Ham, going down 3-1 and not appearing to have much real fight in them. Goalkeeper Ben Foster looked suspect on the first and last goal, though it was a stonker shot from long range by Declan Rice:

In a sense, Watford gave Pearson ‘What for’, which is a British slang expression for punishment.

Pearson was on the verge of another miracle, having taken over Watford and their being bottom of the Premier League at Christmas and looking set for the drop. But, as he’d done with Leicester City in 2014/15, also bottom of the Premier League at Christmas, but managed to survive, it seemed he was at it again. If Watford survive, then Pearson is due his props. If they drop, egg will be on the face of the owners.

He’s been a colourful manager and caught up in a few memorable verbal and physical confrontations and a sacking that wasn’t at Leicester in 2015, when in February, following a home defeat by Crystal Palace in a game in which, at one point, Pearson put his hands around Palace’s James McArthur’s neck, while on the ground, the press reported that Pearson had been sacked. He also famously called a journalist an “ostrich”, “stupid” and “daft” during a post-match news conference after a defeat to Chelsea in April 2015. He was voted manager of the month in April 2015 after a series of great results; but for his heroics, for which he was sacked in June 2016 (‘Thanks, fellas!’), Leicester would not have been in the position to pull off the most amazing footballing miracle of winning the Premier League the following season, as 5000:1 outsiders.

Watford should have a place in the hearts of all Jamaicans firstly because of Jamaican-born Luther Blissett, whose striking form helped propel Watford from the Fourth through First divisions in the late-1970s-1980s. Secondly, as the home of Jamaican-born John Barnes, who got his professional start with them before soaring to greater heights with Liverpool, and played in the 1990 title winning side. So, we wish them luck in the fight to avoid relegation. If they escape, maybe former owner Sir Elton John has another song to sing, having been literally instrumental in setting the club on the road to much higher ambitions to make it to the then-First Division.

With their historic links, it’s somewhat ironic that in this horror season, Watford found inspiration to inflict a first defeat on Liverpool this season, when they have become champions of the top tier in English football for the first time in 30 years, when Barnes played for them.

It’s a funny old game 🙂


The good, the bad, and the ugly (May 25, 2014): no waggonist, me edition

Yesterday was a momentous day for me. I should have had no reason to beg excuses. The football team, which I’ve supported all my life, were playing a final on Wembley’s hallowed turf. It was a match that I wanted to watch, but, thanks to the vagaries of modern global marketing of television rights, I was forced to play a round of golf with two doctors instead. I never knew the drama of the match as it unfolded. Again, globalisation made it nigh impossible for me to track the match via the Internet. The cost of roaming is too prohibitive. Had I stayed in the swanky clubhouse at the golf course, I could have used their wifi connection to get Internet access. Instead, I was getting stuck in sand chasing a small coloured ball.

View of Albany Links Course, Nassau

Mementoes of a day's play

When I’d finished with the neurosurgeon and the spine surgeon, I checked my news feed. My team had won the final. I then took a stroll through history, Internet-style. I went back through tweets from before the match, so replayed events 140 characters at a time. I will bore you only with some highlights. At half-time, the score was 0-0. Near the 65th minute, my team had a player ejected; so played the last quarter of the match with 10 men, versus 11. After 90 minutes, the score was still 0-0. I thought that we had won on penalty kicks: not my liking, but take it. But, no. About two minutes into added time, Bobby Zamora scored. What!?

Watch how Zamora scores in injury time the goal that sends QPR to the Barclays PremierLeague

I am sure that I would’ve needed at least two changes of underwear had I seen this live, and maybe a defibrillator. One of the team greats, Rodney Marsh, who was in attendance, tweeted ‘Destiny’.

So, QPR will be back in the English Premier League next season, after only a season away. I know of at least one other Jamaican who supports QPR; I met him on his holiday here last year.

Last week, Jamaicans who follow English teams, were alight because ‘their’ team had won or not the EPL. I’m going to presume that few, if any, would follow those teams if they were not in the EPL. They would flee like rats on a sinking ship. Their waggons only have pull when they’re on the high road. In the ditch? See ya!

All of the emotional energy I have, would have been spent had I seen the match.

I really wanted to write about what the case of Brendan Bain has told me about Jamaicans. But, in part, I won’t because someone has said all I wanted to on it already, and with elegant simplicity. Read yesterday’s letter in the Gleaner about his falling on his sword. The baying and partial presentation in the mainstream media on this topic really showed the colours of some people. That’s not really a surprise when emotions get raised. But, I was more bothered by some of the blinkered views. Some of that was like the Jamaican EPL fan, partisan, without really going deeply into the history of why they should be so. Anyway, I leaving that subject. “Let your meat stop your mouth,” and old man used to say.

I’m saving emotional energy for a day of more finals, when Jamaican athletes go for more wins at the IAAF World Relays. They left nothing behind last night, with a world record in the 4×200 metres relay, anchored by Yohan Blake, while Usain Bolt had not been on the team.

Awesome! Beastly. I will there again, in my national colours of gold, surrounded by a sea of aquamarine last night. Today, the hosts will wear gold, so I shall don black and green. I’ll stay seated on the waggon that I’ve ridden all my life.