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Christmas Crackers (Article for Watford's Official Matchday Programme)

PETER KENNY JONES trawls through the archives to find four memorable matches involving either of today’s teams that were played over the festive period…


GAME 1

NEWPORT COUNTY 2-8 WATFORD, JANUARY 5, 1924


The 1923/24 season may not be the most memorable campaign for Hornets supporters. Not just for the fact that a World War and 96 years separate that season and today, but it was also a year when Watford finished 20th out of 22 teams in the Third Division South and only avoided relegation thanks to their goal average. This cracker came just over a week after the Christmas dinners had settled. It was also the fifth match since Christmas Day for the Watford team, in what was an even more hectic schedule than exists, and is criticised, today. Other than eight goals being scored, the day was memorable for another reason as Watford striker Eddie Mummery became the first, and remains the only, player to score five goals in a single Football League game. Mummery fought for his country during the First World War before spending six years at Cassio Road and Vicarage Road, scoring five of his 23 Watford goals in this famous festive match-up.


GAME 2

BRENTFORD 7-0 PLYMOUTH A, DECEMBER 17, 1994


Plymouth travelled to Brentford 26 years ago on what turned out to be a historic victory for the Bees. Not only for the winning margin, but this was to be a red-letter day for the club as it featured the most goalscorers in a single Football League game for Brentford. In all, six different scorers joined in the act in a season where Brentford ended up finishing second before losing the Second Division play-off final on penalties. On target that day was Darren Annon, Paul Smith, Robert Taylor, Nicky Forster, Denny Mundee and Lee Harvey. Perhaps most surprising was that this came off the back of two wins in 10 games, but Plymouth proved to be the perfect festive foes. This victory provided a springboard for the rest of the season as it began a run of nine wins in 11 games.


GAME 3

BRENTFORD 3-3 MK DONS, DECEMBER 31, 2011


Uwe Rosler led his Brentford side to a dramatic comeback nine years ago this month. The result was secured after a last-minute header by Leon Legge meant that the Bees manage to secure an astonishing comeback from three goals down against MK Dons. Darren Potter put the visitors ahead before the Colombian Angelo Balanta’s shot quickly made it two for the Dons inside six minutes. Charlie MacDonald then smashed home a third ahead of the break. A true game of two halves saw Gary Alexander pull one back after half-time. Ever dependable from the spot, Alexander made it a brace from a penalty after a handball by Adam Smith. Legge made it a day to remember as he scored in the 92nd minute to complete a comeback of momentous proportion. Rosler praised the character of his players and said the comeback felt like a win, sending a signal out to the rest of League One.


GAME 4

WATFORD 3-0 LIVERPOOL, DECEMBER 20, 2015


In the craziest Premier League season of all, when Leicester City ended up clinching the title, there were a lot of surprises as many of the ‘bigger’ teams were in transition. A fresh-faced and duller-teethed Jürgen Klopp faced some teething problems against the newly-promoted Watford side. Goal machine Odion Ighalo continued his and Watford’s fine start to the season, leaving Liverpool’s defence in his wake on a day when his double helped to put the Hornets within one point of the Champions League places. The Liverpool side were a shadow of the team today, only Jordan Henderson and Roberto Firmino were present from the team that won the Premier League last season. Adam Bogdan was in goal on a day when he proved that he was to remain third place in a battle with Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius for the number one spot. He fumbled for Watford’s opener along with several other shaky moments on the day. Watford rode out any forthcoming waves of a Liverpool comeback and an early Nathan Aké goal was bookended with a late Ighalo finisher that concluded a famous festive win for Quique Sanchez Flores’ side.


For more from Peter Kenny Jones:

@PeterKennyJones

https://peterkj.wixsite.com/football-historian



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