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WFC in 100 Objects – #6 Cally’s Decks

Friday 2 September 2011 by
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Our search for 100 Objects that define watford football club continues. If you have an suggestions for an object then send it in, along with the story or reason, to podcast@fromtherookeryend.com. They can be historic objects that define a special on pitch moment or a personal object that defines your relationship with the club. Read the list so far on your Watford in 100 Objects page. This week we add an object for an 80’s Legend..

Object # 6: Cally’s Decks

I don’t think I give Nigel Callaghan enough credit. As a young Hornets fan my favourites were Jenkins & Blissett, then Barnes appeared and it was all cup runs and Division One. But not long after I made my Vicarage Road debut in 1980, a young Cally was breaking into the Watford first team. And once he was in, he was a pretty consistent feature in Graham Taylor’s side. Even as GT strengthened the side in many areas to try and establish the Hornets as a First Division team, Nigel’s position never seemed under threat. And whilst it was the man on the other wing taking all the plaudits, Cally continued to put in some inviting looking crosses for the strikers, as well as banging in a few goals of his own, some good ones at that, with an unassuming unfussyness.

Now as a young kid you don’t appreciate the nuances of the game. So I can give you no definite reasons as to why I didn’t hold him in the same regard as John Barnes. Don’t get me wrong, he wore that yellow shirt so was still one of the 11 heroes on any given Saturday afternoon. But if there was one thing that may have attributed to it, it was that he didn’t look like a footballer. Luther & Barnes were athletes. Cally looked a bit awkward, a bit unkempt. These days it would probably lead to some sort of Doyley like cult worship!

But like all good things it had to come to an end. And after a falling out with the boss, Nigel found himself on the transfer list. Despite efforts to play his way back into the first team, GT sold him to Derby County in 1987. Cally had a couple of good seasons with the Rams before moving on to Villa and ironically a reunion with the same boss that moved him on from the Hornets. But after Taylor took up the poisoned challis of the England job, Nigel found himself out of favour at Villa Park and fell out of love with the beautiful game.

So what next? He had a ready made talent, but it wasn’t such a smooth transition into his new career as a DJ. By the time Nigel left Watford, most fans knew that he felt as comfortable behind the decks as he did on the football pitch. It had all started by accident. Whilst out with Kenny Jackett at a local event, Kenny’s DJ mate offered Jackett the chance to have a spin. Kenny declined but volunteered Nigel as he was more of a music man. Cally gave it a go, found he liked it and turned it into something of a hobby. He even used his new found prowess to host the odd WFC promoted event under the title “Cally’s Disco”.

When Nigel left Villa he headed out to Corfu for a bit of “me” time and indulge in a few things that he couldn’t when he was a footballer. On his return to the UK, he spent some time training with Millwall, but only found full first-team fitness in time for the holiday season and a return to Greece. Four months playing football in South Africa followed and when that concluded Nigel realised he had a decision to make.

He was reaching his expiry date in football terms and wasn’t being taken seriously as a DJ whilst keeping his football options open. So at this juncture Cally decided to hang up the boots and start wearing the cans as a professional DJ. And that’s what he’s been up to ever since, coming back to our attentions firstly in one of those reality holiday, lets look at a load of Brits endearing themselves to the locals, television programmes; and more recently with his involvement with the former players association and his benefit game as he fought against bowel cancer.

So credit where credit’s due. The man has certainly earned it.

Jason

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