Opinion: Why Watford Should Keep Deeney
On Monday afternoon Watford discovered the punishment handed out to striker Troy Deeney after he admitted to the charge of affray which occurred during an incident in late February this year. The ten month prison sentence certainly took me by surprise as I`m sure it did most who had been following the case.
With my selfish football hat on, my thoughts immediately turned to how long that would mean he would miss of next season. It had not occurred to me, the issue of whether he should remain at the club, would become a hot topic. And after considering everything I fell 100% on the side that Watford should stick by their talismanic striker.
The fact that I believe Deeney should remain a Hornets player beyond the summer does not go to say that I, in any way, agree or accept the behaviour which has landed him with this charge. Deeney made a very bad mistake which he is being punished for, but he can learn from that in the future and continue to play at our club.
I do not accept the argument that in order to have credibility as a family club we cannot afford to have anybody with a criminal record at the club. History tells us that in reality this counts for very little. Marlon King had already served time in prison for handling stolen goods in 2002 before Aidy Boothroyd brought him to the club in the Summer of 2005. There was certainly no furore at the time about bringing someone with criminal convictions to the club. In fact, I would argue the fans have never felt closer to the club than during the 2005/06 promotion campaign which saw King`s goals at the heart of the teams success. It is also worth noting that even after being sent to prison on a much more serious charge in 2008, King was part of a Birmingham City squad which received a Family Excellence Award from the Football League in 2012 for their work in the community.
Also worth a mention is the signing of Moses Ashikodi in January 2007, a player who had left his first club Millwall in 2004 for threatening a fellow player with a plastic knife. In fact, there was such little worry at having that type of player at our 'family club` that at a game at West Ham Utd in February 2007 a chant of 'Moses get you`re knife out` broke out among Hornets fans when Ashikodi had a run in with a West Ham player.
I also think that we could enhance our family community by keeping a player such as Deeney. There is no better example of being able to come back from adversity and making amends for past mistakes than there would be of Deeney returning to our side after release. Often, particularly when talking to youngsters, people respond best to people that have made mistakes as they can talk from experience rather than someone impressing ideals of society on young people without any knowledge of the wider world.
Finally I think it would be a waste to discard a player who would have something to prove to us when he is released. There is no doubt that Deeney has let the club down badly during this episode. If we let him go then both sides have lost out. In my mind it would make much more sense to bring him back after his release, to use him as an example to youngsters in our community and let him prove he is sorry for letting the club down through his performances on the pitch.