Centre-half Steve came through the youth system and made his debut at the end of the 1979-80 season. He went on to play in Europe and the FA Cup Final for the club before moving to Hull City.
Now working for the Press Association, Steve spoke to Watford Legends in 2010.
Hi Steve. Thanks for talking to Watford Legends. You came through youth ranks with Kenny Jackett and Nigel Callaghan. Good time to come through!
Yeah it was me and Kenny first, then Nigel came through a year later.
What do you remember about coming through the ranks to the first team?
When we came through it was only me and Kenny who made it through as it was early on so we came into a side that was doing well as when I joined as a kid they were in the old Fourth Division. So it was a good time to be at the club.
Do you remember much of your debut?
Yeah I do because we got stuffed 5-0! We were playing at Sunderland who were pushing for promotion. It was the penultimate game of the season and I was 17. I had to mark a fella called Robson who also used to play for West Ham. He got a couple but I did ok.
It was the end of one era and the start of another that year as the likes of Dennis Booth were coming to the end of their time and the likes of myself and Nigel Callaghan were coming through. It was a long way back on the train though!
Were you part of a rocket from GT for losing 5-0?
I think Graham concentrated on the older heads who should have done better. Graham could have left me out of the side for the last game of the season but he didn’t. And that was good for me because we beat Burnley on the last day – 4-0 I think.
You were at the club as they climbed up the league system from bottom to top. Do you have any personal highlights through that period?
Probably the European games. I was still only young but was involved when we beat Kaiserslautern 3-0 at home having been 3-1 down from the first leg. It was great to win a game where everybody thought we had no chance. And of course it was a midweek game which is the best type of game at The Vic. You can’t beat that place when it’s under the lights.
Why did you wear the plaster/headband?
I had a clash of heads with John Fashanu and it was in the position on my head where it used to open up very easily, so I protected it.
You had a few partners at centre half. Any favourites?
Probably John McClelland.
Do you think you could cut it as a pairing in today’s football?
Yeah I think so. I know it’s changed with all the diet and training and so on. John was quick, I wasn’t too bad on the ball for quite a big bloke – I reckon we’d be alright, even in the cut and thrust of the Championship.
And who would you say gave you the biggest run-around?!
Someone asked me that the other day and in the era I played in there were a lot of good strikers. Rush at Liverpool, Lineker at Everton, McAvennie and Cottee at West Ham, Mick Harford at Birmingham, Peter Withe, Gary Shaw….the list is quite long. Cyril Regis – there’s another one. Yeah, a lot of good centre forwards. And English too – you don’t see too many of them around nowadays.
You don’t see that traditional number nine as much anymore do you?
No you don’t. It’s more strikers and attackers, rather than goal scoring centre forwards. Shearer seems to be the last one really.
Talking of goals you didn’t get many but you got a few. Do you have a favourite goal?
Yes I scored one against Tottenham at home. Tottenham were the first club I went to as a youth, and it was the team we supported as a family. And my Dad used to work at Spurs so he would pop me in the crowd on match day and come and get me afterwards. So I enjoyed scoring that goal.
You were at the club for the FA Cup Final. How did you enjoy the day?
The build up and everything was great. And in the first twenty minutes we had some good chances. But we were disappointed with how we performed on the day. Afterwards though, going to Charter Place and so on and seeing the fans was very special.
Do you agree that FA Cup final day used to be a lot more special than it is now?
Yeah it was. It was a very special day in the national calendar. We had Michael Barrymore in the hotel with us and Everton had Freddie Starr as part of all the coverage. I remember on FA Cup Final Day the television coverage would start at about 10 in the morning with all player profiles and watching the coaches arrive and so on. I’ve got our one on video somewhere, I must dig it out.
Was that that the pinnacle of your career?
Yes it was. I’ve played in the cup final at Wembley. It was very special and I was privileged to do so.
It was good to go to the 25 year anniversary dinner thing a while ago to see the old lot. It was a shame everybody couldn’t attend but it was a nice evening.
Are you still in touch with many of your old team mates?
I go for the odd beer with Pricey, and I speak to Lee Sinnott and Kenny Jackett. And a few of the other lads such as Luther are quite local. But a lot of the players are all over the place so it’s more of an as and when thing.
You left in 1988. Why did you go to Hull?
David Holsdworth was coming through and I had two plus years left on my contract. But I was having some personal problems with my marriage and wanted to get away to be honest. I knew some if the lads up there such as Richard Jobson, Charlie Palmer and Alex Dyer. And Dennis Booth was the Assistant Manager. I’m not sure it was the right move in hindsight, even though I had two years there. Maybe I should have stayed a bit longer and found another move, but there were no agents then so you had to sort it all out yourself.
I then went to Northampton and had four years and hardly missed a game.
And you finished with Northampton in the mid Nineties. So what’s the potted history between then and now?
I do some work now for the Press Association covering games and I’m involved in the stats and so on. For a few years I had a courier business but now I’ve decided to work for someone else where we deliver Agas to people.
I train with a team in Tring to keep up a bit of fitness. I’m 48 now but reckon I could still give it all a go!
Well thanks for your time Steve, maybe see you back at centre half soon!
Cheers lads. See you at the ground at some point.
Quick Fire Round
|Favourite Ground (apart from the Vic)|
|Best Ever Player|
|Team you supported as a boy|
|Favourite Holiday Destination|
|Favourite TV Show|
|Only Fools and Horses|
|The Deer Hunter|
|Desert Island Woman|