Big Interview: Craig Cathcart
Defender Craig Cathcart talks about captaining the team earlier this season, his highs and lows as a Watford player and family life in a self-penned interview...
It’s been an honour to be named captain on a few occasions earlier this season, when Troy was out injured. I think it’s the first time for over 10 years that I’ve had the armband. In fact, the last time was probably when I was in the youth team at Manchester United. I was captain for Northern Ireland Under-21s a few times too but apart from that it’s not something I’ve done very much. During my time at the club the captain’s been a bit of a mainstay. To be honest, it doesn’t really change much in terms of preparation on a matchday for me. The only thing that’s really different is that you go to speak to the referee with the manager before the game. I’m professional anyway and I try to set a good example, even when I’m not captain, so it doesn’t change too much. That’s something you need to be doing more and more when you’re an experienced pro and you hit 30.
HEAD LOSS & HUDDLES
In terms of my leadership style, you’d probably have to ask the other lads. I just try to be professional and set a good example that way. I’m not a screamer or a shouter but I do have a little bit of a head loss sometimes. On the whole I don’t think that’s very helpful though. I’m not really one for a team huddle either. We do a lot of talking in the dressing room so when we go out onto the pitch everyone knows what we’re doing by then and in my opinion it’s time to just get on with it and show it.
In my time at Watford there have been some real highs. The promotion year was definitely up there as a highlight. We wanted to win the league so we were disappointed not to do so in the end, but the momentum that promotion run-in gave us going into the Premier League was great. That first year in the Premier League was special too. To do as well as we did was incredible. I managed to play more or less every game that year, which led me into the Euros with Northern Ireland, so that was a very special year for me. Obviously last year was great too and the FA Cup semi-final was the stand-out moment. It was disappointing how it finished with the final, but it’s that Wolves game that sticks in my head the most.
There have been a few lows along the way, too. I’ve had a few injuries that I’ve played through for a few months. The hernia injury I had a couple of seasons ago was particularly hard. I couldn’t get a diagnosis so I was going all around Europe for a few months seeing different specialists and trying to find out what the problem was. That took a few months in the end, so it took up a big chunk of the season. My last knee injury put me out for a good bit as well. Serious injuries are obviously real low points but you just have to focus on trying to get back into the team and staying as fit as you can.
I saw Clevz said I used to be a lot more serious and stubborn when me, him and Danny [Welbeck] were growing up together at United, and that’s probably true! It’s hard to remember back that far but I’m certainly more relaxed than I was back then. At United I was trying the best I could and it was always quite serious, but I just couldn’t break through. I like to think I’m good fun now and I try to enjoy myself. I think you get more relaxed when you don’t take yourself too seriously anymore, and that’s probably the main difference. I think that just comes from experience and being in the game for a long time, you just tend to relax and not worry so much. Having kids helps as well – you might have a bad game but when you go home your family’s waiting for you and they treat you like they do every day, which brings you back to earth. It’s that life experience that makes you a little more relaxed.
DIGS WITH DANNY
Speaking of my time at United, I lived in digs with Danny for something like six months to a year and we had a lot of fun. I think he was 17 and I was 19 but we got on really well. We were with another lad from Northern Ireland called Chris and we used to wind him up big-time! When we played computer games, me and Danny would play on the same team and Chris would be by himself and we’d just hammer him and mess about in his room. Those were happy days and it’s nice to be playing with Danny again now he’s come to Watford.
Away from football I like to focus on my family as I find it takes your mind away from the game. I used to do things like playing on the PlayStation quite a lot but it’s just not possible when you’ve got three kids running around different places. They’ve got school, after-school clubs, then gymnastics and so many birthday parties, so it’s hard to find time for yourself. My kids are two, six and seven and my oldest daughter was only two when we moved down to Watford so this feels like home more than anywhere else to us as a family. They love their school and they have a lot of friends here, so we’re really settled. When I find time I do like watching other sports, especially boxing. I also watch snooker every now and then when it’s on. I recently bought a VR headset to try and the kids really like some of the games on there, so I do get to do a little bit of game-playing too!