Where are they now? Aidy Boothroyd's promotion-winning Watford side

Northampton town manager Aidy Boothroyd

Aidy Boothroyd guided Watford to the Premier League in the 2005-06 season. Let's see what that play-off winning side are up to now.

Aidy Boothroyd managed Colchester United, Coventry City and Northampton Town after leaving Watford in 2008. He has spent the last few years managing England's Under 20's and - with Gareth Southgate taking temporary charge of the senior squad - he is currently responsible for the Under 21's. 

Three members of this side still play for Premier League teams. Adrian Mariappa is back at Vicarage Road after a four year absence. Ben Foster spent the 2005/6 season on-loan from Manchester United and has been a regular starter at West Bromwich Albion for the last four years. Watford academy product, Ashley Young, is part of Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United squad. Young has won the Premier League title and the FA Cup during his time with the Red Devils.

Alec Chamberlain and Malky Mackay both took roles at the club once their playing days were over. Mackay replaced Brendan Rodgers as Watford manager in 2009 and impressed during his time in charge. Mackay left for Cardiff City in 2011 and got the Bluebirds promoted to the Premier League. However, his reign at Cardiff ended in controversy and he was sacked. He also had a disappointing time at Wigan and is now out of the game. Chamberlain remains at Watford as a goalkeeping coach and gives part-time help to the Wales Under 19's squad.

Clarke Carlisle and Les Ferdinand also stayed in the game once they retired. Carlisle ended his career under Boothroyd at Northampton Town and went on to be a leading member of the Professional Footballers’ Association. The former Burnley defender has also fought a public battle with depression. Ferdinand was a part of Boothroyd’s squad but didn’t play a single game. He retired following the 2005/6 season and is now Director of Football at Championship side Queens Park Rangers.

Boothroyd did give youth a chance during his time at Watford. Joel Grant, Francino Francis and Ben Gill all made their debuts during this season. Both Francis and Gill spent most of their careers in the lower leagues. Francis plays for Evo-Stik Northern Premier League side Hednesford Town; while Gill’s final club was Wealdstone. Grant had the most successful career of the trio and is a regular for League Two side Exeter City. He also played for Jamaica in the 2016 Copa Americana.

Other youngsters to feature in this squad were Dominic Blizzard, Al Bangura, Hamuer Bouazza and Toumani Diagouraga. Blizzard started the season well under Boothroyd but illness blighted his Watford career. The midfielder went on to have spells with Bristol Rovers, Stockport County and most recently Plymouth Argyle. Last year, as reported by the Plymouth Herald, Plymouth fans speculated that a ‘ghost’ spotted at Home Park could be Blizzard.

Bangura was threatened with deportation in 2007 and Watford fans rallied around him by holding a half-time protest during their game with Plymouth. The Sierra Leone born midfielder went on to play for Forest Green and, notably, was signed by Tony Mowbray for Coventry City. He now plays for St Albans City.

Bouazza and Diagoura play for teams in the second tiers of England and France. Bouazza turns out for Red Star in Ligue 2; while Diagoura is currently out-of-favour with Garry Monk at Leeds United.

Gavin Mahon and Jay DeMerit were integral leaders in Boothroyd’s team. Mahon skippered the side and spent six years with the Hornets. He signed for QPR in 2008 and carried on playing until 2014, when he rounded off his time as a player back in the Midlands with Tamworth.

Injuries plagued the end of DeMerit’s time with Watford and he moved to the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2010. DeMerit kept playing for another four years before injuries forced him to retire. The American defender is now focused on youth soccer development and philanthropy, as reported by the MLS website. He also released a documentary about his life called ‘Rise and Shine: The Jay DeMerit Story’.

Marlon King’s goals were pivotal to this Watford team but incidents off the field hampered his achievements on it. Following a prison sentence, King was given chances at Birmingham City and Wigan before ending his career with Sheffield United.

His strike partner, Darius Henderson, had success in his time after Watford and the target man enjoyed prolific spells with Millwall and Sheffield United. He played alongside Bangura at Coventry and is now with League Two side Mansfield Town.

James Chambers and Jordan Stewart were trusted members of Boothroyd’s squad. Both left Watford for Midlands’ sides with Chambers joining Leicester City and Stewart signing for Derby County. Chambers now plays for Worcester City after he had long spells with Doncaster Rovers and Walsall. After playing in the Greek league with Xanthi FC, Stewart has spent the last three years with MSL side the San Jose Earthquakes.

Matthew Spring was a Boothroyd signing and he is still playing as part of Hemel Hempstead Town’s squad. The 36-year-old’s most recent game was a 4-2 defeat to Poole Town. Chris Eagles spent some of the 2005/6 season on-loan from Manchester United – making thirteen appearances. Eagles had spells with Burnley, Bolton and currently League Two side Accrington Stanley.

Last but certainly not least is Lloyd Doyley. The Watford fan favourite played just short of 400 league games for the Hornets and last season helped to keep Neil Warnock’s Rotherham United side in the Championship. Doyley is now a free agent.

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