SEVEN years at Watford represent the best years of David Hockaday’s coaching career. Leeds United’s boss will be in familiar surroundings tomorrow, back at a club who genuinely know him well.
Hockaday has a low profile in footballing circles but he was part of the furniture at Vicarage Road between 2000 and 2007, working in the club’s academy before joining their senior backroom team under Aidy Boothroyd.
Watford won the promotion from the Championship while Hockaday was first-team coach, beating Leeds in the 2006 play-off final at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, but the 56-year-old said he was equally proud of his contribution to the club’s youth development scheme.
“I was there for seven years and five of those were with the academy,” Hockaday said. “In those seven years over 30 players from the academy played for the first team in the Premiership or the Championship and I was glad to be part of that process.
“The culture at Watford was to play young players and it was easier to get young players into the team because of that. When I went in with the first team, within 12 months we were battling for promotion – which we got by beating Leeds.
“They were great times and I love Watford and their philosophies. I feel I made a fair contribution while I was there.”
Hockaday’s promotion to the position of first-team coach came in 2005 after Boothroyd dispensed with Nigel Gibbs, a man who held the job of assistant manager at Elland Road until last month.
Boothroyd and Hockaday worked together for 18 months but Hockaday left Watford in 2007 with the club in danger of relegation. He was replaced by Malky Mackay.
Asked why Watford had chosen to sack him, Hockaday said: “That’s football and it’s business too. It’s the way life is now – one minute you’re there and then for whatever reason you’re gone.
“But those were seven great years in my coaching career and my journey continues.”
Watford have started the season with two wins from three league games but Hockaday spoke confidently about United’s trip to Vicarage Road, saying: “They score goals and concede goals. We want to put on a show.”