Cherries Away Days: Watford
Ahead of the AFC Bournemouth's trip to Watford on Saturday, a game which kicks off at lunchtime due to coverage on Sky Sports, AFCB Vital spoke to Kieran from Vital Watford.
Any tips on getting to and from the ground?
If you're getting the train to any of the Watford stations, you'll be fine. It's a 25 minute walk from the Junction, about the same from the Metropolitan Line tube stop, and less than 10 minutes from Watford High Street station, which is on the London Overground.
If you're coming by car, there are a few places to park nearby. The shopping centre in town is be a good shout, but we're not the best place for parking in general. It's certainly not as simple as pulling up to the ground and finding a space in the massive car park like at the Goldsands! Just look out for signs for match day parking and don't arrive at the last minute as it's likely there'll be at least a short walk from where you park your car.
Where are the best places for a pre-match drink for away supporters?
Away fans perhaps have it better than home supporters, as the closest pub to the ground since the Red Lion on Vicarage Road closed last year is an away fans' pub. The Oddfellows Arms is around the corner from Vicarage Road on the town centre side, on Fearnley Street.
The Oddfellows is a great pub with a big garden. It's my favourite pint of Guinness in Watford, and the staff are great. I wish it was a home pub.
I'm not sure on the arrangements, given that it's an early kick off, but usually it's open to away fans before the game only. After the game it'll either look shut or you won't be let in. Basically, the regulars get it back once the match starts. So if you're looking for a place to drink after the game you should head into town.
If proper pubs are your thing, you'll have to look further than Watford High Street, as the drinking establishments in central Watford are all big bars - Lloyds, Walkabout, you know… the type of place that goes a bit clubby later on.
If you're up for a walk, the Nascot Arms just off Langley Road is a great little pub, and you can get delicious Thai food in there too. There are also a few pubs you go past on the way to Watford Junction from the ground - Druids, the Estcourt, the Wellington, the other Estcourt, are all on or around Estcourt Road, which is just off Clarendon Road. Take your pick, they're all nice enough.
For any AFC Bournemouth supporters who haven't been before, what is your ground like for away fans?
I've never experienced a game at Vicarage Road as an away fan, so I wouldn't know all the ins and outs. You get a good view though, a fair amount of space too - you're not crowbarred into the corner like at some grounds (Forest, I'm looking at you in particular).
I've heard the concourse can get a little bit overcrowded in the Vicarage Road end, but other than that I think it's alright. You've go the closest gates to the town centre, where most people walk from, so that's something of a convenience for you.
For any Cherries supporters staying in the local area for a couple of days what's the one thing you would recommend to do?
Wow… I mean, it completely depends on what you're in to of course. If you're in the area a little while, I'm sure you have plans already. I mean, it's not the most glamorous of places so I assume any Bournemouth fans still knocking about a couple of days after the game have a particular reason for still being here.
Here's my one little tip though. Get some dinner at L'artista on Watford High Street. It's a great Italian restaurant. Very good value and delicious food in a place with a really friendly atmosphere. One of my favourite places to eat.
Has your side changed much from last season?
In many way it has, yes. I'd say the biggest change is the fact that we have a lot more options this year. Last year we were perhaps stuck with a certain set up and some players were nailed-on starters in a particular position. This season, we have the ability to change completely, and this will hopefully help us over the course of the full season.
It's difficult to say how we'll play though. We've recently changed head coach, with the thoughtful and meticulous Oscar Garcia coming in for the passionate and eccentric Beppe Sannino, however Garcia has been in hospital since Sunday, and it's looking very likely that he'll miss this game, just as he did on Tuesday at Blackpool.
Whether Garcia has changed the way we play in a meaningful way remains to be seen, but our last two games has seen a lot more possession from us, and, rather worryingly, a lot more wastefulness in front of goal. I doubt the latter is down to the head coach though of course.
Who is your player to watch?
We have a few very good players this season, but in our previous two games none have stood out as the key man. Troy Deeney is of course a player that can do really well in any given game, and his instalment as club captain has taken him to the next level in my opinion - he gives the team a focus and drive, and it's great to see him lead the players on the pitch.
Almen Abdi played a massive part in our 4-2 win in our last home game against Huddersfield, scoring two crucial goals, one of which sealed the game at the death when we had been playing with 10 men for around half an hour. For me he is our best player on his day, and he hasn't really got going yet this season, so I hope to see him pick up where he left off last time out at Vicarage Road.
What are your predictions for this game and the remainder of the season?
It's hard to predict where we'll go this season. We have seen one head coach leave already despite us sitting in second place at the time of his resignation. We currently have a head coach that is in hospital due to suspected heart problems, so nobody knows how that will turn out. Hopefully, of course, Oscar Garcia will be treated and back out of hospital in good health very soon.
Even with all of the instability off the pitch, we find ourselves third. We've lost two and won the rest The two losses were disappointing: the first followed a very contentious second-minute sending-off away at Norwich, and the second was a frustrating one nil loss at Charlton, where we couldn't score despite having 14 attempts on goal, with Charlton's goal coming from a third-minute penalty.
My point is, if the start of the season is anything to go by, our squad can get results without any kind of obvious plan going on in the background. We have shown a resilience that was not present in the last two seasons, and we have a very sting set of players that can win games in difficult circumstances. I feel we have the squad to challenge for the top two, but it's a long season and to do that well is a big ask. We should be looking at the top six come May 2015, and I think it's fair to say that this is what is expected from most fans and the players and management.
As from Saturday, we will be looking to build on a very good start at home - we're yet to drop points at Vicarage Road. Our last two performances have been somewhat disappointing by comparison though, and hopefully it isn't the start of a downward trend.
I don't think we've sorted out our defensive problems, but I do think we'll score goals on Saturday. The home crowd will hopefully hake off any lingering uncertainty in the squad following two frustrating games for the strikers that came away from home. I'll go for a hard-fought 3-2 win for Watford.
Additional information via Dorset Police...
The postcode for the club is WD18 0ER, there are several multi-story car parks in the Town Centre, Watford Police have also provided a link to the local authority for parking info, which is pretty good, the link is here on Watford Parking Info
Those on the supporters coaches will be dropped off and picked up directly outside of the away stand.
The suggested away pub is Oddfellows but all town centre pubs will welcome away fans, the Moon Under Water pub (Wetherspoons) is a good family friendly pub which serves food and welcomes children. There is no alcohol served at the stadium.
There is also a reminder to all that the kick-off is 1215 hrs due to it being shown live on Sky Sports.
Watford Police will continue to post updates on their twitter account (@WatfordPolFooty) and we will endeavour to do the same.
AFCB Vital Travel Coaches
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