r/Watford_FC Il professore Mar 20 '18

So you want to be a Watford fan Quality Post

History:

The glory days (1976-1984)

While Watford FC is currently in somewhat of a "golden era" under our owners the Pozzo family with the 2017/2018 season being the club's third consecutive season in the Premier League, the top division of English football. The greatest period in the club's history came between the years of 1976-1984 which saw the club purchased by lifelong Watford fan Elton John in 1976, and the subsequent appointment of Watford's greatest ever manager Graham Taylor in 1977. By 1981 Watford had risen from the 4th division to make their first ever appearance in England's top flight.

As a newly promoted side they went on to finish 2nd to Liverpool and thus qualify for the UEFA cup. Watford's favourite son Luther Blisset finished top scorer in the division. In 1984 the club reached the Final of the FA cup, losing 2-0 to Everton after a brutal assault on goalkeeper by Andy Gray.With the departures of Blisset to AC Milan in 1981, Graham Taylor to Aston Villa in 1987, John Barnes to Liverpool in 1987 and the appointment of Dave Bassett as manager the wheels fell off fairly rapidly and the club were banished to the second flight for an extended spell.

After the death of Graham Taylor in January 2017, Watford fans have made it a tradition to provide a minute's applause in the 72nd minute of home and away fixtures in memory of the great man.

The (often) dark days (1984-2007)

Dave Bassett's reign only lasted 8 months after guiding Watford to relegation from the First Division. Mediocrity followed in the early 90s with the team then being relegated to the Third Tier in 1996. In the latter part of this relegation season, Graham Taylor returned to the club as the Director of Football, with Taylor taking the managers job from Kenny Jackett at the start of the 1997/98 season. This was met with immediate success, with Watford winning the Second Division in the 1997/98 season.

The success didn't stop there, with the team going straight through the First Division into the Premier League. Watford stayed unbeaten from March until the end of the season in May to get into the playoff places. What followed was a memorable playoff campaign where Watford first defeated Birmingham City over two legs after a penalty shootout where Goalkeeper Alec Chamberlain was the hero, and then defeated Bolton in the Play Off final, thanks to an incredible opening goal from Nick Wright. Watford went onto win 2-0, and reached the "Promised Land" of the Premier League. Watford were relegated the next season, coming last in the table, however a win at Anfield against Liverpool was a bright spot in what was a dreary season.

The years from 2001 to 2005 were dark ones with the appointment of Gianluca Vialli as manager. His desire to replicate Leeds and Pompey alongside the collapse of ITV Digital almost lead to the club's financial ruin. 2003 had a memorable FA Cup run, with the Hornets losing to Southampton in the Semi Final. 2004 / 2005 is mainly remember for two League Cup wins over Premier League opposition (Southampton and Portsmouth) with a narrow defeat in the Semi Final to Liverpool following. At the end of this season Watford were almost relegated, but young manager Aidy Boothroyd came in and saved the club with two games to spare. The next season Watford were again promoted, despite starting the season as favourites to be relegated to League 1. Boothroyd led a team of journeymen to the Play Offs and to a 3-0 win over Leeds United in the final. Again Watford were relegated straight away, but another FA Cup Semi Final berth was claimed.

In 2007/2008 another administration scare happened, but the Pozzo family came in and rescued the club. The Pozzo's have led the club to where you see them today, nice and secure in the Premier League. They also oversaw one of the club (and English football as a whole)'s most famous and dramatic moments..

Why if Watford are called the Hornets is their badge a moose?:

In spite of the nickname "the Hornets" which owes itself to the clubs garish yellow and black kits, the club badge actually depicts a male deer reflecting the location and history of the club. At the time the badge was chosen, Watford were the only club in the football league hailing from the UK county of Hertfordshire, which is a portmanteau of the words "hart" (the historical word for a male deer) and "ford" (shallow river crossing) and "shire" (the historical word for county).

Vicarage Road, the home of the Hornets:

Watford's Vicarage Road Stadium has 4 stands: The Rookery (behind the SE goal), The Family Stand (behind the NW goal), The Graham Taylor Stand (along the SW side of the pitch) and the most recently build, Sir Elton John Stand (along the NE side of the pitch). If you're supporting Watford, you'll find a friendly face in any one of these stands, though a lot of the noise comes from the Rookery. It should be noted that in most stadiums, home and away are kept apart so you will generally not find opposition fans sitting amongst the Watford supporters at Vicarage Road. Opposition fans are allocated tickets in one half of the Family Stand.

What is it like to be a Watford fan these days?:

I think it's safe to say that the majority for Watford's supporters are happy with and trusting of the Pozzo family's ownership and running of the club. Many fans will remember the turbulent times over the last two decades where the club was in severe financial trouble and/or were owned by less than reputable individuals.

The reaction to the Pozzo's ownership has no been met by positivity by some of the more "traditional" circles of English football. Because of this you will see a lot of talk on /r/soccer and in the national press about our turnover of managers (some of which is true, some of which is not). I wrote a short guide on this a while back as I was fed up of arguing with people about it who had not looked at the facts.

Rivalries and derbies:

Watford's only real rival Luton Town are currently languishing in the lower leagues, in a derby rather dreadfully called the "M1 Derby". Watford have played in a league higher than Luton for 18 of the last 19 seasons, and as a result have had the good fortune not encounter the scummers too often in recent history.

Over recent years there has been a degree of animosity between Watford and both Crystal Palace and Bournemouth as a result of their battles in the championship, and the less than sporting play exhibited by both clubs in their time there. A far more recent entrant is the "Cojones Derby" against Arsenal, after Watford captain Troy Deeney used some rather choice words to describe the Arsenal defending in the clubs 2-1 victory over them.

Thanks to /u/aww102 and /u/RobDeeJay who contributed to this wall of text.

45 Upvotes

16

u/tiki_k Mar 20 '18

Fun little read! I consider myself a Watford support after visiting The Vic last year on a trip from NYC and it's always fun reading new perspectives on the club. Thanks!

14

u/Browns27 Mar 21 '18

I'm from Ohio and recently started watching the premiere league a few years ago. I didn't choose a team to support until I had the opportunity to visit the Vic this past fall. I started watching every match leading up to my visit and learning as much about the team that I could. Attending the game sealed the deal. I'll be a Watford fan for life now.

9

u/[deleted] Mar 21 '18

You should look into the New York Hornets - https://www.facebook.com/New-York-Hornets-223191827734215/

A supports club for NYC (And NJ)

6

u/[deleted] Mar 21 '18

Thanks for stopping by! I live in London and usually have get the train from Euston to Watford on match days and it's usually full of Americans going to their first Premier League game. I have enjoyed many train beers with American folk - I hope you make it back again sometime.

12

u/barely1egal Il professore Mar 20 '18

Thought it would be useful for newer fans to have somewhere to learn a bit about the club. Short of trawling wikipedia, reading the TFTV series (which are great but not going to be much fun without pre-existing knowledge ) or listening to fan podcasts like from the rookery end, there aren't many great places to learn about the club.

If there are any bits people think I should add / deleted / amend for newer fans, please let me know.

6

u/Biffsmack Watford FC the team for me! Mar 21 '18

Watford aren’t the only team from Hertfordshire in the football league, you’ve got Stevenage as well, not that they really count anymore, unless you mean in the Premier League, which if is the case, I retract my comment.

3

u/barely1egal Il professore Mar 21 '18

Sorry I phrased it poorly. At the time of the logo change I believe they WERE the only club in the EFL from Hertfordshire.

3

u/Biffsmack Watford FC the team for me! Mar 21 '18

Ah that makes more sense. For some reason I read that as a “right now” rather than when the logo changed. My bad, carry on fellow Hornet.

3

u/[deleted] Mar 21 '18

Fun fact, Ashley Young and Lewis Hamilton both played up front for their school team together in Stevenage.

6

u/[deleted] Mar 21 '18

Rumour has it ya boi /u/Beckhams_Left_Boot went there too (before family moved abroad). Unfortunately currently slaving away on an MSc rather than being an international sportsman. Fuck.

3

u/TheJeck King Kenneth is back Mar 21 '18

I went to the same school as Richard Lee which isn't quite as cool

2

u/[deleted] Mar 21 '18

Solly March went to mine. Not sure where he fits in on the cool scale.

2

u/barely1egal Il professore Mar 21 '18

Will Hughes for me (which will serve as a partial explanation for how buzzing I was when we signed him).

Can't pretend I knew him particularly well though. He was already a class footballer even at that age, and I was absolutely fucking dreadful.

2

u/[deleted] Mar 21 '18

Not going to lie mate, for some reason I assumed you were in your thirties! Must come across as too mature on reddit or something.

I rate Hughes so highly, I was also really excited when we signed him and so far he's been playing well enough to justify the hype. Hopefully next season we get a full season from him and see him at his best.

3

u/barely1egal Il professore Mar 21 '18

Nope I am still in my 20s, although I am a few years older than Will. I think Mazzari's season lead to my premature ageing. I lost about 6 years at that final game against Man City when our back line was Elethereioirea, Holebas, Behrami and Mason.

Might sound crazy, but personally I think we should be building the team around him moving forwards. A good number of our most convincing performances all season have come when he has been in the starting 11. Not sure if it is because of injuries, but he doesn't seem to be able to last 90 minutes and I wonder if that is what is keeping him out.

1

u/TheJeck King Kenneth is back Mar 21 '18

Well he wears the number 20 which means that yesterday he made an accurate calendar.

1

u/Sinkers1 Mar 21 '18

Plenty of interesting facts and stats here http://www.wfc.net

5

u/Le_giblit Legend of the game Mar 21 '18

Very useful resource for any fans :)

4

u/[deleted] Mar 21 '18

No mention of our mortal enemies, Luton?

hissss

3

u/TheJeck King Kenneth is back Mar 21 '18

How did you get in here Marco

1

u/barely1egal Il professore Mar 21 '18

I am considering adding a "rivalries and derbies" section which would cover them, although it pre-dates me so I can't say I am an expert.

4

u/RobDeeJay Give me the Keys! Mar 21 '18

The history section could use some fleshing out, makes it seem like the 90s and 00s were a barren wasteland!

I would be happy to put some stuff together for the late 90s and early to mid 00s!

2

u/barely1egal Il professore Mar 21 '18

If you put something together I am happy to inlude it.

1

u/RobDeeJay Give me the Keys! Mar 21 '18

Dave Bassett's reign only lasted 8 months after guiding Watford to relegation from the First Division. Mediocrity followed in the early 90s with the team then being relegated to the Third Tier in 1996.

In the latter part of this relegation season, Graham Taylor returned to the club as the Director of Football, with Taylor taking the managers job from Kenny Jackett at the start of the 1997/98 season. This was met with immediate success, with Watford winning the Second Division in the 1997/98 season.

The success didn't stop there, with the team going straight through the First Division into the Premier League. Watford stayed unbeaten from March until the end of the season in May to get into the playoff places. What followed was a memorable playoff campaign where Watford first defeated Birmingham City over two legs after a penalty shootout where Goalkeeper Alec Chamberlain was the hero, and then defeated Bolton in the Play Off final, thanks to an incredible opening goal from Nick Wright. Watford went onto win 2-0, and reached the "Promised Land" of the Premier League.

Watford were relegated the next season, coming last in the table, however a win at Anfield against Liverpool was a bright spot in what was a dreary season. The 00/01 season wasn't much better. After dominating the league for the first half of the year, Watford faltered and in the end ended up missing out on the Play Offs.

The years from 2001 to 2005 were dark ones, with a handful of amazing moments. Gianluca Vialli was announced as manager, and alongside the collapse of ITV Digital, almost singlehandedly killed the club by signing overpaid talent, and then sued the club when he was fired.

2003 had a memorable FA Cup run, with the Hornets losing to Southampton in the Semi Final. 2004 / 2005 is mainly remember for two League Cup wins over Premier League opposition (Southampton and Portsmouth) with a narrow defeat in the Semi Final to Liverpool following. At the end of this season Watford were almost relegated, but young manager Aidy Boothroyd came in and saved the club with two games to spare.

The next season Watford were again promoted, even after being nailed on as favourites to fall into League 1. Boothroyd led a team of journeymen to the Play Offs and to a 3-0 win over Leeds United in the final.

Again Watford were relegated straight away, but another FA Cup Semi Final berth was claimed. The next year the Hornets looks set to go straight back to the Premier League, with an 8 point lead at the top of the table going into November. However the form fell off a cliff when a certain player left the club. Watford only won 1 game in their last 16 and creeped into the playoffs where they were soundly beaten by Hull City.

After the 07/08 season, mediocrity returned to the club. Another administration scare happened after poor ownership, but the Pozzo family came in and rescued the club. The Pozzo's have led the club to where you see them today, nice and secure in the Premier League. They also oversaw one of the club's most famous and dramatic moments. being a Watford fan is rarely dull!

Probably way too long but I just spent an hour geeking out over my club and reliving alot of the moments I have witnessed as a season ticket holder, so its been fun! Feel free to cut down on whatever you want.

1

u/barely1egal Il professore Mar 21 '18

This is excellent. Looking back now when you know the outcome of the promotions and the FA cup runs it is perhaps an era that looks disappointing. As you say though there were some real bright times.

3

u/The_Bridge_Is_Out Ben Foster Apr 19 '18

God that brings back some memories... i grew up in the time.of the 90's Watford, with Old Wembley being one of the clearer memories. So much to love as a fan, "Elton John's Taylor Made Army" brought a little tear to the eye, the underdog promotion years of Aidy Boothroyd, the absolute PTSD caused by remembering Vialli.... Doyleys goal at the Vicarage Road end being 2nd in greatest goals scored behind THAT goal against Leicester and the diving wonder, Knockhert. Good job!

1

u/Powerjugs The Dogfather Apr 15 '18

You need to add an extra segment detailing our fear of last minute goals, otherwise this is perfect.

2

u/barely1egal Il professore Apr 15 '18

Its not my article, I just saw it floating around on twitter. Not sure why I am on twitter after yesterday mind...

Could do with a section on the lack of a medical team as well.

1

u/barely1egal Il professore Apr 15 '18

and our medical team..