Watford legend Jordan Stewart spoke exclusively to Vibe107.6 FM sport reporter Noah Abrahams.
A Watford FC legend, Jordan Stewart joined Vibe107.6 FM sports reporter Noah Abrahams for a chat on the station’s latest YouTube series – ‘Sports Vibe: Hornets Heroes’.
A key member of the Hornets’ Premier League promotion winning squad in 2006, the former left back remains a fan favourite among the Golden Boys faithful.
Leicester City to Watford and Aidy Boothroyd
“How I even got to Watford was a strange one,” Stewart said.
“I had a year left on my contract at Leicester City. I remember that I was at home and received a phone call off Aidy Boothroyd.
“At the time, I didn’t really know much about him. He told me that Leicester had accepted an offer from Watford. No one had told me!
“I went to see Aidy and he just wanted the football to be attacking. If they scored four then we’d score five.
“When I went to Watford, we were one of the favourites to go down.
“The promotion season at Watford was one of my best seasons. I had a relationship with the manager and every day, everyone had banter.
“No one came into work thinking of it as work. Everyone had a laugh, and everyone was just grinding for each other. Whether you started or not, you were part of the team.
“Aidy’s philosophy was totally different. He would break the fixture list into six games.
“We would hit goals, hit milestones and it got to stage where if we won, we were rewarded with a trip to Dubai. I remember Marlon King celebrating against Coventry and pretending to be on a deck chair!
“On a Monday morning for de-brief, we would all sit down and watch clips from the weekend.
“Everyone gave feedback. That bond was unique. It was the only time I have experienced anything like it.
“For me, Aidy was one of the best. Everything worked and everything clicked.”
Premier League promotion 2005/6
“The promotion to the Premier League was definitely my favourite memory in a Watford shirt.
“Aidy always told us that we could win the game in the tunnel, before it had even started.
“Dan Shittu would always have his top off walking up and down then tunnel! From the start we had energy and we were in people’s faces. It bode us well for the whole season and the Play-Off Final wasn’t even close.”
The end of an era
“In the end, I left Watford and ultimately signed for Derby County on a free transfer.
“The first season under Aidy was the best, but when we went to the Premier League, he tried to change his philosophy and that cost us in a way.
“The Premier League is a different beast. People knew what we were going to do. We sat back and didn’t create. For me, it got a bit sour towards the end.”
Two very different games
“I had always wanted to end my career in America, especially in California.
“I got the chance through Darren Huckerby to play in the States, before Mark Watson became the San Jose Earthquakes coach and signed me!
“The difference between the English and American game are the tactics and the fans. MLS tactics are not as homed in as in Europe. The MLS will grow, but it’s just going to take time.
“Even though there’s a family atmosphere in Watford, fans are angry if you lose a game. That’s normal. In the US, if you lose a game then it’s more relaxed. Even if you lose, you can still go out for dinner with the family. “
“The Championship is one of the hardest leagues in the world. The amount of games – Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday – It’s super volatile.
“It’s like the stock exchange. The Championship always changes.
“If you’re there or their abouts, then you always have a chance of getting promoted.
“It’s too early to say if Watford will be promoted, but I would love to see Watford back in the Premier League.”