Date:Monday March 12 2007
A list of all Post-War Millers born in this week in history, plus an in-depth career profile of one of them. (Courtesy of Lutonfc.com)
Paul Murphy 1954
Chris Hudson 1951
Barry Lyons 1945
Richard Finney 1956
Brian Tiler 1943
Nick Daws 1970
Jimmy Mullen 1947
Alan Gee 1932
Julian Watts 1971
Pat Heard 1960
Kenny Bower 1926
Julian is a strong central defender, with excellent aerial ability. A well-travelled defender, he initially joined the Hatters on loan from Bristol City before making the transfer permanent in September 1999 on a 'Bosman' free transfer and he has proved to be a solid asset to the squad, missing only a couple of games in his first season. Keen to get his career moving again after an unhappy spell at Ashton Gate, he added some much needed experience to the young side.
He started his career with Rotherham United, who gave him his first taste of league football having signed him from Frenchville CA in July 1990. After just twenty league appearances he fulfilled his ambition of playing for the home town club he supported when he was transferred to Sheffield Wednesday for £80,000 in 1992. He was taken to Hillsborough by Trevor Francis but he was never a regular fixture in the side during his four year stay. He was also loaned to Shrewsbury Town in December 1992 where he made 9 league appearances.
When David Pleat left Luton to take over as the new manager from Trevor Francis, he immediately signed central defender John Newsome, hence limiting Julian's chances even more. So in March 1996 he decided to take the opportunity to join Leicester City for £210,000. He made his debut against Sheffield United when Leicester were decidedly off-key, but he soon played a vital role in successive wins at Charlton Athletic and Crystal Palace to keep the Foxes in the hunt for a play-off place. He established a solid partnership with Steve Walsh at the heart of the defence that kept several clean sheets on their way back to Premiership football, following their 2-1 Wembley play-off final win over Crystal Palace.
With Julian back in the Premiership with Leicester City, it was a real test to see if he could cope with the standard of Premiership football. He scored his first goal for the club at home to Chelsea from close range and performed solidly throughout the season, though his place came under threat after Matt Elliott was signed from Oxford United. As a valuable squad member who held his form, Julian was a little unfortunate to miss out on the Coca-Cola League Cup final against Middlesbrough, both at Wembley and at Hillsborough in the replay. However, with his aerial ability and coupled with his excellent pace and the instinct to come out of defence with the ball, he could always be relied on.
Unfortunately for Julian, he found his first-team opportunities at Leicester limited in the 1997-98 campaign and found most of his first-team action on loan at Crewe Alexandra, where he played five times, and Huddersfield Town. He appeared eight times for the Alfred McAlpine club as cover for injuries, showing himself to be competent and comfortable on the ball, before being recalled to Filbert Street just when an extension had been agreed. He answered the call whenever needed, and even got a taste of European football when stepping into the line-up for the return leg of the UEFA Cup against Athletico Madrid. He never let the team down and remained a popular and valued squad member throughout the campaign, prior to being released on a free transfer in the summer.
Looking for a new club, Julian joined Bristol City in the summer of 1998 with the Robins beginning their first season in the First Division. He made his debut in the opening game of the season, a 2-2 home draw with Oxford United and was a regular fixture in the side under manager John Ward as the club struggled in the new division. He scored in the 3-1 home defeat to West Bromwich Albion, but when Ward left, the club appointed Swede Benny Lennartsson as the new boss. Thereafter, Julian hardly featured and was loaned out to Lincoln City where he played three times and then Blackpool where he appeared on nine occasions - his last Bristol City appearance coming in a 5-0 defeat at Bradford City in October 1998.
Surplus to requirements at Ashton Gate, he came to Luton initially on a loan basis with manager Lennie Lawrence looking for some experienced players to add to the very young team. However, with the club in financial problems, he had no money to bring in any players who would require a transfer fee. Julian gave some impressive performances in the Hatters defence, keeping a clean sheet on his debut, the first match of the season, a 0-0 draw at Notts County. Playing in the opening four games, he was eventually signed on a free transfer under the 'Bosman' ruling. He played in the opening 25 matches of the season and only missed 2 games out of the 54 played in the season. He was on the score sheet 4 times and also scored two in two games with goals in the 3-1 home win over Reading and the 3-1 win at Cardiff City.
Pace would probably not be his strongest attribute but he can do all the things a centre-half should be capable of; tackle, head, pass, organise and if need be hoof (although it has to be said this is not part of his game). Had Marvin Johnson decided to leave during the 2000-01 pre-season, Julian would have been a strong candidate for team captain.
Julian had a rather disappointing 2000-01 season which culminated in him ending the season out of the side and also saw the Hatters relegated to Division Three. He began the campaign as a regular at the heart of Luton's defence, and he scored in the second game of the season, a 2-1 defeat at Wigan, a game in which he also captained the Hatters. His form, however, was inconsistent and he never showed the kind of form he had shown during the previous season. He was a consistent starter during the first part of the season, Ricky Hill's reign as manager, but, after Hill's sacking, he struggled to get into the side, especially when Joe Kinnear took over as boss, with Kinnear preferring Richard Dryden, Emmerson Boyce and either Paul McLaren or Marvin Johnson in central defence. Watts was also not helped by the loan signing of Adrian Whitbread from Portsmouth by Lil Fuccillo who temporarily took over as manager when Hill left the club.
He did, however, still play in 35 games in all competitions, and he scored 3 goals against Wigan, in a 1-1 home draw with Oxford and in a 3-4 defeat at Wrexham. He was subsequently released by Kinnear at the end of the season and moved to Australia to try his luck with Northern Spirit.
After 66 appearances in three seasons for Northern Spirit, where Julian scored 2 goals, he left Northern Spirit, along with former Hatters trialist Andy McDermott, after a pay dispute, and he subsequently retired from the game to concentrate on running his own bar in Australia.
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