Bowditch recalls when Ipswich last beat Watford

March, 20, 2004. The day Dean Bowditch came to national attention and the last time Ipswich Town beat Watford home or away. A dozen league and cup games have followed between the two sides and Ipswich have accrued a measly three points from a possible 36.

“I CAN remember being in the changing room after the game and I didn’t know what to do. I had the match ball in my hands and all my team mates were grabbing it off me, wanting to sign it.”

It was the day that changed Dean Bowditch’s life.

A fresh-faced, little-known 17-year-old made the country stand up and take notice of his potential after bagging a hat-trick in the 4-1 televised win against Watford - Town’s next opponents.

Two goals inside the first 24 minutes and a third shortly after the hour mark had the SKY cameras buzzing and supporters crowing about the new terrace hero.

Recalling that amazing day, the last time Ipswich tasted victory over the Hornets, Bowditch said: “It was my first home start, at 17, and Joe Royle just threw me in and gave me a chance.

“It worked out well for me although I did have some luck. I didn’t even think about the hat-trick until at half time, when Alun Armstrong said he fancied me to get another.”

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The luck Bowditch referred to was largely down to Watford keeper Lenny Pidgeley who gifted the youngster goals one and three.

“Two were put on a plate but a striker would say he was working on his instincts,” Bowditch joked. “It was an amazing day, by far the best of my career. People still come up to me today and ask me about it.

“Everyone was buzzing afterwards and I think it was made that little bit more special by the fact it was a young lad who had come through the ranks.”

Bowditch, who scored just nine goals in his seven stop-start professional years at the club, admitted he was “shocked” to learn his special day was the last time Ipswich had beaten Watford in a dismal run that the term “bogey team” doesn’t even do justice to.

A barren run of three draws and a whopping nine defeats - including two at Portman Road - has followed. And even when it looks like the hoodoo will be broken, last season’s home match for example, someone like Nathan Ellington steps up to prolong the agony further.

Similarly, what proceeded that magical 90 minutes has not been quite so kind on Bowditch, now 24 and plying his trade at League One basement side Yeovil Town.

It was Roy Keane who finally called time on his ultimately frustrating career in Suffolk, but the level-headed frontman has nothing but good words for the Town boss.

Bowditch said: “It was brilliant for me to get away. I had a fantastic time at Ipswich and it was hard to leave. But Roy Keane did me a great favour when he pulled me to one side and told me he thought I needed a fresh start. Dropping down a level was exactly what I needed.”

While helping to pull the Glovers away from the League One trapdoor is his number one priority, Bowditch admits that part of his heart still belongs to Suffolk.

He said: “After the win against Leicester, I hope Town can turn it around and go back to how they were playing at the start of the season. I still look out for Ipswich’s results and I really do wish them well.”

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