Discussion in 'The Golden Years' started by Stevohorn, Feb 24, 2019.
Was at that game. Jesus it was cold....
Stuart Scullion was brilliant and infuriating at the same time, not content with beating someone once he would always check back and then have a go at beating them two or even three times, after he finished his football career spent 25 years or so as a baggage handler for British Airways! He was however our best player in the early 70's!
On this day 50 years ago-the 3rd/4th FA Cup play offs (abandoned as a "competition" 4 years later)
After being at the semi i went to this-seemed a bit odd at the time standing in the huge Northbank watching us play Man United
No pictures of game only the programme
Ken Furphy another player and manager from the North East who left a mark at Watford FC along with Sunderland boys Wilf Rostron and Gary Porter and Smoggie Mooney. Furphy took the team to the second division on the 1968/69 season winning the title on goal difference from Swindon Town while perennial derby rivals Luton Town finished third. The team played an attacking brand of football that saw 74 goals scored equalled only by that lot down the road.
The team also went on a stirring FA Cup run. It saw a draw at Old Trafford in the fourth road with a score of 1-1. Furphy favourite Stewart Scullion scoring with Denis Law equalizing. The Red Devils also fielded Charlton and Best so the result was an excellent on. The replay was initially pencilled in for Wednesday the 29th January but as you can see below a waterlogged pitch put paid to that. After a 3-0 away win at Tranmere Rovers the delayed fourth round replay was played on Monday the second of February resulting in a 2-0 defeat both goals scored by Law in front of 34000 fans.
A right back as a player Furphy died from dementia in 2015 perhaps another victim of the heavy balls used when he played. A year on and again in the FA Cup Watford beat Liverpool 1-0. His contribution to the club should never be forgotten.
A reminder in that photo of what a low rake the Rookery had compared with other terracing of the day. The view from it wasn’t great.
This is from slightly before my time, but do you know who that is forking the pitch next to Les Simmons?
That is dear Les of course WWTW but I have no idea who his assistant forking the pitch is as it is also well before my time. Perhaps Stevo will know ?
Two former players. One well known the other father of a well known Watford playing son. Can you guess who it is ?
Pat Jennings joined Watford from Newry Town with the side in the Third Division. He backstopped the team with his enormous hands to just a win away from promotion beaten to the line by Coventry City managed by Jimmy Hill and Crystal Palace. He only played a season for us such was his quality and assured handling no doubt helped by his schooling in Gaelic football catching under the high ball. He made his international debut with the great George Best in the spring of 1964. He moved to Tottenham that summer becoming a club legend there before crossing the North London divide to Arsenal. He made a record number of appearances for Northern Ireland turning out in the 1986 World Cup and was in goal when Josimar rifled a long shot past him. However he is the only goalkeeper I think who has won Player of the Year and PFA player of the year award and is one of the greats in that position.
Who is this ?
Pat Jennings lining up before Watford take on Mansfield Town on Saturday the 3rd of August 1963:
I’m thinking that’s Kenny’s dad, Frank Jackett.
Indeed it is.
The season when the club came second to Bob Paisley's Liverpool and where Brighton denied a last minute FA Cup winner were relegated with Swansea and Manchester City. Luther scored prolifically and the squad are shown in relaxed fashion with owner Elton John on a truck manufactured by the club sponsors Italian truck builders IVECO.
The good times come to an end as God leaves and is replaced by Wimbledon manager Dave Bassett. John Barnes had been sold but in his wisdom Bassett sold several other core players while players like Trevor Senior did a Moralee. Results saw him ushered to the exit in January of 1988. Here he is in happier times with Elton at the RAC club in London in May 1987 after being revealed as the replacement to God. A difficult task and ultimately no one has replicated. John Ward would have been a better choice and provided the continuity needed that is always required when a giant figure leaves a club. Elton made the choice and like his attempt to bring Bobby Moore to the club it was a wrong one.
I’ve always thought when a club has a long period of stability under one manager (less likely these days) it requires a ‘fall guy’ to take over and be sacked before the club can reset. We’ve seen it happen in recent times with Man U and Arsenal. Ours was Bassett but unfortunately he did so much damage it took years for us to really recover.
After the heady success of finishing second in the First Division Watford paid an international visit to China. Then still very much a closed country and far away from being anywhere near the nation it is now. Nonetheless the relaxations in the wake of Mao's death and the Cultural Revolution that had seen many sports banned meant feelers were being put out by the Chinese to footballing nations. And the possibilities of a new Chinese market in which to sell goods and services was more than alluring for many Western companies.
A wonderful article on the tour and the relevant photographs as well.
God and Elton in the Forbidden City at the tomb of Mao:
Back to more domestic matters. The 1978-79 season saw Taylor take the team to the second division finishing behind champions Shrewsbury despite recording more wins and being the leagues top scorers with 83. A tally only equalled by Swansea who finished third and were also promoted. The team also went on an impressive League Cup campaign that was ended by Clough's Nottingham Forest the eventual winners with a 3-1 aggregate loss over two legs. Clough was himself impressed by the attacking verve displayed by the Hornets and very complimentary to Taylor.
During the run the team travelled to Old Trafford in the Third Round. A reminder of the days when Scottish players were readily found in the top flight, half the Manchester United squad were Scots and toothless Joe Jordan indeed opened the scoring. Only for a twenty year old Luther Blissett to win the tie with two goals narrated by the incomparable Barry Davies.
Luther had a fantastic season in that Third Division promotion campaign, bagging 21 goals in 41 matches. Here he is pictured the day after the match with an unsurprisingly broad grin (Friday the fifth of May) with a Ladbrokes betting board that clearly shows how few expected the Golden Boys to get a result.
Ken Furphy's team talk before 3rd division watford draw against European champions Manchester United in the 1969 fa cup 4th round.
A heavy police presence in Cardiff Road after the visit of Chelsea. The game itself was a disappointing 3-1 defeat. All the goals were scored at the very end of each half. Luther opening the scoring only for Kerry Dixon to equalize with John McClelland scoring an own goal at the very end of the game followed by David Speedie the red headed terror of the Bridge adding a third as Watford sought to equalize.
A shot of Vicarage Road still very much a greyhound track despite Taylor's objections and Les Simmons delight. Pretty ramshackle with glass bottles inserted at the top of the walls to discourage non paying spectators, but Watford were on the up riding high at the top of the Fourth Division with 14 wins and just 4 defeats.
Happy days are here again. Local lad Paul Robinson scored the opening goal on Valentines Day 1998 against the old foes and team he had made his debut against two years previously. Look at the elation. Watford nonetheless marched onto the Division Two title ahead of Bristol City after God had once again taken the reins. A firm fans favourite his impetuosity was a weakness.
The fourteenth of April 1984 saw Watford reach the FA Cup final for the first time but only after overcoming stiff resistance from Plymouth Argyle team two divisions below. George Reilly of course scored the only goal of the game after a pin perfect cross from Barnes. He had already scored a peach of a goal against Birmingham in the previous round. Video contribution is possibly from our very own HappyHornet.
Reilly was a giant of a striker an earlier version of a Darius Henderson. Often told by Taylor to rough up the opposition goalkeeper in the first few minutes. Born in Coatbridge he moved to the Scottish enclave of Corby (there being the steelworks plant which had attracted many Scottish steelworkers to settle there). Great friends with compatriot Maurice Johnston the affable Reilly is now facing a battle against early onset dementia. He also cites the numerous blows to head, concussions and heading the ball as a contributory fact. I am sure we all wish him the best against this horrendous condition in which he is being supported by the Astle Foundation.
Good luck Big George. His goal in the semi was a key moment in Watford’s history.
Two highly talented wingers. And two players who went on to join Sheffield United. One becoming a club legend for the Blades the other coming back home to become a folk hero. Scullion was another in the long line of tricky nimble footed wingers that used to be produced on a regular basis from the cramped streets of towns in Alba in his case Bo'ness on the coast. Signed by Ken Furphy to replace another legend with Scully coming from Charlton and Cliff Holton going the other way.
Scullion scored some memorable and vital goals for the club before leaving none more so than one at Old Trafford. A Deulofeu before even his parents were a twinkle in Gerards grandparents eyes.
Currie pictured above in the 1967/68 season on a cold February Saturday before a 3-2 win over Barrow (now resurgent in the National League) was signed by Frank Grimes. Was he related in any way to William Grimes who turned out for the club in the noughties of the twentieth century ? Grimes moved Currie from left back where he had struggled in the Fulham and Chelsea youth teams to left wing. A slight lad he was probably influenced by the antics of George Best and displayed considerable flair. Ken Furphy had no hesitation in putting him into the first team and his performances soon saw him called up to the England u23 team and attracting interest from clubs up in the pyramid. His pin point crosses resulted in Barry Dyson becoming top scorer for Watford that season. Dyson left at the end of that season replaced by Barry Endean and never repeated his scoring exploits which shows the service to a striker is so very important.
Watford were beaten by the Blades in the FA Cup 3rd round late in January just a week before this picture of Currie was taken. The clubs had already agreed a fee of £27000 in the summer of 1967 but the transfer was dependent for some bizarre reason on Watford being knocked out of the subsequent FA Cup. Having done the deed Currie went to Bramall Lane and became a fixture there during his playing career alongside another old boy Keith Eddy who replaced him as captain and subsequent retirement working in the community.
Bert Slater was goalkeeper at Watford for three seasons from 1965 to 1969 until replaced by Mike Walker. SStocky and short for a keeper he achieved success with Falkirk and Dundee but never ever quite made it to the top rank of keepers. He did play for Liverpool for three seasons twice in the old second Division and an important part of the team that won promotion under the manager that signed him Bill Shankly so he was more than decent and participated in Dundee's epic run in the European Cup when they reached the semi-final stage in 1963.
Here he is in a preseason friendly on the 14th of August 1965 when the Hornets were in Division Three and ended up in mid table obscurity. And followed by an equally diminutive keeper taking some time off touring the world in 1974 to drop in at Vicarage Road to participate in a team training session.
Pre-season photographs from 1966 and 1960:
Sammy Chung now aged eighty eight and an Oxford lad played most of his career with Watford as a striker but not a prolific one. Living in West Watford he used to work with schools in the local area and took his coaching vocation with him joining up with Bill McGarry his former manager at Ipswich. The duo took the Tractor Boys into the top flight and they worked their magic at Wolverhampton Wanderers as well by repeating the feat.and then securing a League Cup win in 1974. Chung had success on his own as well after relegation led the Wolves board to relieve McGarry of his duties. At his first attempt Chung took the side back into Division One but two seasons later an incredibly poor start to the season saw him following in the footsteps of McGarry. Thereafter he moved onto a string of coaching jobs even in his late seventies.
Terry Garbett now aged seventy five was a skilled midfielder for the Hornets. Born in Yorkshire he played alongside Howard Kendall in schoolboy football where his goal scoring prowess saw him move to Middlesbrough as a teenager. After struggling to get into the first team on Teeside Ken Furphy liked what he saw and brought Terry to Watford. Great at breaking into the box and maintaining his knack of finding the back of the net Terry was a vital part of the team that ascended to the second tier of English football.
His obvious ability and Watford's financial issues saw him sold to Blackburn Rovers before he was reunited with Furphy at Sheffield United. With age catching up on him Terry exchanged Bushey for the NY metropolis to play for the NY Cosmos in the ill fated NASL alongside Pele. After the circus ended without any real positive benefit to American soccer Terry stayed on in America and still lives there.
Excellent work Smudger as always.
In that photo of "the Bend" you can just make out a young Reg Dwight leaning on a railing near the back towards the Shrodells stand.
Three of the finest players to have worn the colours of Watford FC. In the first picture is Tony Coton. Signed for £300000 from Birmingham City Tony was a bit of a tear away in his native Brummie land. Led astray by his companions like another well known Watford legend in the making. Graham Taylor can be seen accompanying the big man to Tamworth Magistrates Court where Coton was being prosecuted for assault after a night on the tiles with a Birmingham team mate Mick Harford.
Taylor spoke up on his new signings behalf as a character witness stating that he had been impeccable in his behaviour and standards at Watford and had been successfully removed from Brum and the bad influences Tony held company with. Despite Taylors efforts the judge sentenced Tony to six months which caused Taylor to wonder he had wasted his money before the judge added suspended for two years. God as usual kept watch on his prize signing by asking as he always did owners of local hostelries to let him know if they spotted any of the squad drinking to excess. TC from his first game where he clouted Andy Gray became a firm fans favourite. Supplanting Steve Sherwood he was only replaced temporarily by the late Mel Rees when Bassett decided to take apart the successful side he had inherited. Tony soon forced his way back into the team remaining even when the side were relegated further endearing himself to the supporters who shouted his name vociferously from the stands.
A huge commanding presence in his area and a great organizer he and the side were cheated by Ian Rush and his diving antics out of a FA Cup semifinal after TC's efforts had earned a replay at the Vic and Tony himself performance of the season. Unsurprisingly Tony left a floundering team to join Manchester City keeping with distinction and as at Watford picking up player of the season awards. His career ended at Sunderland with a very serious multiple leg fracture that led to persistent issues. It is criminal that for a keeper of his ability he was ignored by the England management until Graham himself called on his former player for an appearance on the substitutes bench in 1993. A longoverdue call. Then again as Taylor found when a schoolboy, Barnes at Watford and others have found, playing for a smaller club often means one is overlooked.
John Barnes and Luther Blissett in pre-season at the Vic in 1982. A formidable duo to say the very least. Luther developed from a shy young man with all the qualities required to be a top class striker to a fearsome forward who led the goal scoring charts in the top tier with 27 strikes that helped drive Watford into the runners up spot behind Liverpool. Blissett was the foil to gangling Ross Jenkins a formula which Taylor had developed in his time at Lincoln City where the smaller forward was none other than John Ward. Blessed with growing strength, pace and a thunderous shot and that percious gift for popping up in the right places, filled with trust and confidence by Taylor his exploits that season saw him move to AC Milan. Taylor felt a great personal loss more so than with any other players when he and Eddie Plumley signed the contract in an Italian restaurant allowing Luther to try his luck in Serie A. Like Rush a little while later with Juventus the Rossoneri did not play to his strengths despite Luther giving it his all and he returned home after one season for half the price he had been transferred for. In doing so he swapped places with Maurice Johnstone also a goal scorer extraordinaire and roustabout who would have been a terrifying combination for publicans had he stayed around to play with Tony Coton. Johnstone who had been signed from Partick Thistle on the advice of Jim McGuigan (a former manager of Taylor while he was playing for Grimsby Town) was allowed to move to Celtic and Blissett slotted back into place as if he had never left although sadly his transfer to the continent meant he missed the 1984 FA Cup Final and never had the chance to play in a showpiece final.
As for Barnes. A trickster of a winger the slight lad turned into a powerful player. Bertie Mee (a former army man) managed to secure the deal to persuade John's father Ken the Jamaican military attache to the United Kingdom to allow the teenager to train with Watford when his tenure as attache in London ended thus pushing the also interested QPR out of the frame. The signing fee was a set of football kit for Sudbury Court the team Barnes had been playing for when spotted by a Watford supporting taxi driver. The selling fee he was sold for to Liverpool £900000 seems rather paltry given some of the transfer sums at the time but unfortunately and amazingly few other clubs were even remotely interested. There was no bidding war and Barnes had set his heart on a move to Anfield to win some silverware.
There seems far less affection for Barnes than Blissett. Barnes seems to reflect more on his time with Liverpool given that he won titles there and is regarded as one of the finest players they have had which is no mean feat in itself. Nonetheless he has reflected on his time with Watford with fondness and especially his relationship as you might have guessed with Taylor. The man that seems often ignored and one of Tom Walley's first youth products Nigel Callaghan was also a tremendous winger. Highly gifted his attitude off the pitch let him down and perhaps his desire too. Taylor himself said he was the finest crosser of a ball he had ever seen and that includes a certain David Beckham.
Still the best individual performance I've ever seen from a Watford player. Not seen a more one sided match before or since
Tony Coton was the man, best GK never to actually play for England even though he should have.
Yes. Best English keeper for years. Who kept him out ? Bailey or someone **** like that ?
Tommy Barnett known as the 'Boy' Barnett during his time at Watford. I think a forgotten man by many but he was a prolific striker for the club and held the goalscoring and appearance records for the club before they were broken by Luther Blissett & Duncan Welbourne respectively. Tommy was born in Salford and his ability in front of goal in youth football attracted the local club's attention. None other than Manchester United. However Tommy never managed to get into the first team and was signed by Watford in the summer of 1928 with the club in Division Three South.
In his debut season he scored seventeen and hit more than twenty for the first time in the 1930-31 season. Rarely injured the right footed speedster was also crucial to a deep FA Cup run where the team lost to Newcastle United in 1932 by a thumping five goals to nil. Barnett carried on scoring with regularity and had played three games of the 1939-40 season before the outbreak of war brought an end to professional league football and indeed his own career. By this time he had scored a record 164 goals in 443 appearances and had not Hitler's designs on the world intervened could have added quite a few more.
After the end of hostilities Tommy went on to work as a masseur for sports teams across the globe and in a range of sports before coming back to Watford and spending his retirement years here as a fan on the terraces. He must have been filled with joy to see the team end up at the pinnacle of the game before his own passing in the summer of 1987.
As you can see that the club ended up at the pinnacle was down to the efforts of two men and one in particular. It is all well and good having a financial benefactor but you need someone tomake the best use of that money. And of course we all know that man as God himself. Much missed by all who knew and met him and by many others to whom he was just a voice on the radio.
Graham himself started coaching at an early age and picked up his coaching licenses over the summer after someone at Grimsby reminded him what will you do when you finish up playing ? Taylor had not thought about his career post football too much but that spurred him on to undertake to learn as much as he could from his managers and take courses when they were offered to him. Already by nature a leader being the captain at Grimsby he readily undertook management duties at Lincoln when the incumbent manager David Herd was sacked.
Luckily in those days and with a patient board he was allowed time to settle in. Graham's blueprint as a coach/manager is one all those striving to be a successful one should look at carefully. Caerful man management. Knowing when to chastise and when to praise and encourage. Attention to detail. From the kit right down to analysis of each game. Long before Opta or Squawka were anywhere near on the scene Graham was very much involved in statistical analysis. Listening to advice and ideas. Something some managers are very reluctant to do. But Graham always listened with patience and politeness even if privately he thought the ideas were barmy. Politeness costs nothing. And an eye to taking on what was useful and discarding what was not as with his encounters with the infamous Charles Reep and his idea of how the game should be played. He loved situational training having learnt of the idea when being coached by Alan McGuigan at Grimsby. Eleven players being asked to follow certain plays when a situation arose on the pitch practicing until they knew each others patterns instinctively. As a midfield-striking unit or as a winger-fullback combination. Something no doubt Barnes and even Nigel Callaghan learnt to do to work as a duo with their respective fullback aided no doubt by a raucous volley from Pat Rice with young Cally.
And then the attention paid to set pieces. The ability to dictate play in a game from it which was rare enough in itself and perhaps something his successors have failed to learn from. His idea for playing pressing high and attacking football is not new. As he himself said Wolverhampton Wanderers used the same tactics to seal their success in the fifties. Liverpool used the same method too although when Hansen hit a ball upfield it was a long pass whereas the best signing he regarded as ever making Ian Bolton would be remarked as hitting a long ball. Snootiness in football circles still runs deep and the legendary Billy Wright when coming to Watford to give a talk to the playing staff told Graham. Don't worry about what they write. If you're putting their noses out of joint (meaning their favourite clubs were being beaten) it means you're doing something right.
His emphasis on physical fitness was another. Gruelling sessions in and around Cassiobury Park. The only ones he ever excused were those he knew would perform on the day like his captain at Lincoln and Watford Sam Ellis and later on Paul McGrath at Villa. The work with the community. Things which are looked on now as being commonplace were revolutionary at the time and a time in which crowd violence, racism, declining crowds and sterile football were leading to regular headlines in the papers on the death of association football. He was looked at on with respect by his equals and seniors for such a young coach gaining the chance to coach the England youth team and B sides and being recommended to Elton John by no less than Don Revie. The best coach in the land of his age Elton was told leading him to along with advice of his directors to give Taylor the job instead of Bobby Moore and build the foundations of the club and it punching well above it's weight in the top division. If we ever do move to a new stadium I hope that not just a stand is named after him but the ground itself. The Graham Taylor Arena has a nice ring to it.
Two players who played far briefer roles than they would have liked at the club. Johannes Lohman better known as Jan was the first foreign player outside of the British Isles signed by Watford. An industrious central midfielder he was signed from Lokeren in Belgium with part of the deal being a friendly between the two sides at Vicarage Road. Due to contractual problems Jan initially could only train but once the issues were cleared up he scored on his debut against Charlton Athletic in Division 2 before really making a name for himself by scoring the solitary goal against Manchester United in the FA Cup. A cup run which was ended in the fifth round by Leicester City.
Due to injury issues to Kenny Jackett, Lohman featured heavily in the promotion run in to the First Division and made a strong start alongside that warrior Les Taylor flitting in and out of the team with Jackett. However after a promising start to the 1983-84 season a serious cartilage issue in the left knee seriously hampered Jan from reaching his potential after having been made captain by Taylor. Out for over a year Taylor still offered a two year extension to Lohman an offer which Jan says showed the club to be in a different class to many others.
After fighting his way back into the first team in October of 1985 from yet another serious injury the cheerful Dutchman faced with the prospect of little first team football was given a free transfer. Yet again Taylor had agreed with the player that should he not be picked regularly that he would be given the opportunity to play elsewhere in this case Germinal Ekeren.
As for Neil Price he came from the same neck of the woods as the Smith brothers. Hemel Hempstead. Spotted at a local schools tournament by Tom Walley recently appointed youth coach he trained at Woodside before joining on schoolboy forms and making his way into the very successful youth and reserve sides where he would rub shoulders with the likes of Nigel Callaghan and older wiser heads like Sam Ellis.
Price only played a handful of games for Watford nearly all in the 1983-84 season. They included trips to Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria in the UEFA Cup and the FA Cup semi-final and final where due to the absence of Wilf Rostron the Hornets had to play an incredibly young back line. Price was a fully committed if over enthusiastic player but Taylor decided that he was not up to scratch and allowed Sam Ellis to take him to Blackpool on loan. A large sum of money then persuaded Price to end up with Swansea City. A preseason tour of Malaysia with the Swans resulted in serious health issues for the next three seasons. Hampered by these problems Neil moved down the pyramid into non-league dabbling with management and taking Hemel Hempstead up a division only for Vauxhall Road to be deemed not up to standard voiding the achievement.
Price is probably better known now as the forthright pundit on Three Counties Radio before Professor Derek Payne took the mantle and in setting up the Ex-Watford Players Association. In this manner many older former players have been welcomed back to Vicarage Road or even see a reconciliation, rather tearful between Graham Taylor and Ross Jenkins who was released rather abruptly. Neil himself has been an entrepreneur in property and working as an agent alongside no less than Marco Tardelli and at one stage was ready to purchase The Red Lion for use as a supporters club.
Both he and Jan Lohman have one thing in common. And it stems from the special atmosphere that was created at the club behind the scenes. A deep affection and love of the Hornets. Jan always looks out for the clubs results and is delighted by the return to the top tier.
A tremendous all round sportsman excelling in cricket and swimming Oxford born Cliff Holton had a prolific career as a striker. His goal scoring records in the Football League bettered only by four other players since 1945 and one of only two players to have scored hat tricks on consecutive days.
A colossus of a player his boots might as well have been filled with dynamite such was the power he could generate when shooting with either foot. Like a few other strikers Cliff started out at Oxford City as a half back akin to a wingback before moving to Arsenal. He migrated forward and his goals led Arsenal to a league title and many saw him as a future England striker. Mysteriously for whatever reason perhaps with the arrival of an ageing Tommy Lawton he was moved backwards ending up at times as a centre half.
His sale to Watford now in the newly formed Division 4 was still a massive surprise to the entire footballing world despite the record fee of £9000. A season later in combination with Dennis Uphill and Bushey born winger Freddie Bunce Holton bagged 48 goals in the 1959-60 season leading to promotion in fourth spot. His goal tally alone was over fifty per cent of the entire team. Those exploits continued in the Third Division with Watford finishing a respectable fourth in the table.
The arrival of Welsh and Spurs legend Ron Burgess spelt the end for Holton at Watford. He successfully argued with the chairman Jim Bonser for the sale of Cliff to Northampton. Unsurprisingly Watford struggle in the Third Division shorn of his firepower while Northampton saw Cliff score a hat trick on his debut onto his way to setting another goals for the season record at the Cobblers. Known as the Doctor for his ability to effect promotions and rescue clubs (promotion with Palace, Northampton, staving off relegation with Charlton) he returned for a season at the age of 36 to Watford bagging a goal every two games to see the team into a comfortable mid table spot. At the end of the 1965-66 he was moved on again to Charlton with Stewart Scullion moving the other way.
In spite of his treatment by the hierarchy at Watford Cliff related that his real affection for one single club lay with the Hornets not Arsenal. The adulation he received when he simply turned and walked back to the halfway line after doing his job (no silly choreographed nonsense in those days) warmed the cockles of his rather large heart. The tightness and cohesion of the 1959-60 side (something that impressed Graham Taylor and which he sought to recreate) was reflected in the years ahead as members sadly passed by the wayside and the remaining members of that happy band turned out to remember but Cliff seemed unperturbed by the passage of time looking as fit as a fiddle. Like many footballers of the period he could never have retired to a life of luxury and had created an engineering business and as a fellow example another of the top five post war scorers John Atyeo of Bristol City (a great example of loyalty to one club and one of the few second tier players to play for England) became a mathematics teacher.
His impact at the club and the fans of the era was huge. He is one of the biggest figures in the clubs history and while he may have had a suite named after him at Vicarage Road I think it would be nice to have at the new stadium one stand named after him and another after Luther with the whole shebang as I have mentioned named after God.
Pictured above from left to right are Frank Mitchell, Jimmy Kelly , Harold Phipps and on the far right Peter Croker. This is from an early winter training session for the defence in front of what is now the Graham Taylor Stand and the corner of the Rookery. No doubt after a run behind the Rookery and the Colne floodplain towards Holywell.
Watford were at the time being managed by Len Goulden and this season saw them place tenth. Goulden who had arrived from Chelsea as a player had a decent enough record with the club in Division Three South with the Hornets coming fourth and seventh in the next two seasons before Goulden was replaced by Tommy Paton just retired from playing in the side. Paton was an abysmal manager and Goulden returned to coach with Ron Burgess as manager.
The FA Cup that season was a damp squib with the team losing in the second round after a replay to amateur team Walthamstow Avenue. They were however one of the most successful of amateur sides and eventually merged with several other local teams to form Dagenham & Redbridge.
All the players pictured were defenders and are practicing their heading. Frank Mitchell was a wing half playing out on the wing in midfield tasked with an attacking and defensive role. Born in Australia he played for Birmingham City in the winter and during the summer turned out for Warwickshire as a medium pace bowler. He joined Watford from Chelsea at the end of his career. Jimmy Kelly came from the north east and joined Watford on professional forms as a youth playing with distinction. His qualities were recognized by then top flight Blackpool for the princely sum of £15000. With the Seasiders he played with great success coming up against Cliff Holton on several occasions. An FA accredited coach taught at Lilleshall Kelly emigrated to Australia to continue his career. Down under he won multiple awards as player and coach of the year before returning to Blackpool to set up a brokerage firm that still bears his name.
Harold Phipps and Peter Croker were both Charlton alumni from their FA Cup winning side of 1947 and are still well recognized names at The Valley. They also played against big Cliff. At that time Arsenal managed to win the title on goal ratio from Preston North End and the other traditional three mill town clubs Blackpool, Bolton and Burnley were all in the top seven. How times have changed. With time catching up on both former Addicks they arrived at Watford playing for two and one season respectively. Phipps went into management after retirement while Peter pursued a career at Charlton as a coach and scout before becoming a qualified solicitor. Like his brother Ted the FA Secretary between 1973 and 1989 Peter became an administrator within the game as chairman of the South East Counties League. This youth football league came to an end in 1998. It was a tournament Watford were runners up in three times with Tom Walley at the helm. Peter's grand nephew is also a footballer. None other than Eric Dier.
You’re right that Walthamstow were a major amateur presence in the days when the FA Amateur Cup drew huge crowds to its final.
I think the mergers went like this: Ilford and Leytonstone merged to form Leytonstone & Ilford, who then merged with Walthamstow Avenue to form Redbridge Forest (hello Andy Hessenthaler), Redbridge being the name of the local borough. They subsequently merged with Dagenham to form Dagenham & Redbridge who of course had a spell in the Football League.
The 1958-59 season was played in the newly formed Fourth Division. The Hornets were in it by virtue of finishing below twelfth in the previous season of Division Three South. It was also the last season the team played in a blue kit which onviously inspired the nickname at the time 'The Blues'. Watford has just signed Cliff Holton but he only roared into life in the following promotion season. The season was an uninspiring one which tailed off into mid table mediocrity. Port Vale emerged as champions and several of the sides competing are now found in the National League and below. Southport, Bradford Park Avenue and Gayeshead although Barrow will be making a long overdue return back to the 'professional' ranks when the new season starts.
Watford's top scorers were a duo signed from Norwich City. An Irishman Johnny Gavin and Peter Gordon both of whom scored plenty for Norwich and who Ron Burgess expected to back up Holton to promotion. Gavin a well known name at Carrow Road but sadly no longer with us also had a season at Tottenham where he excelled but was deemed surplus to requirements. Peter Gordon failed to score in his first eleven matches leading to some disquiet but picked up to finish the season top joint scorer wth Gavin on thirteen. The arrival of Dennis Uphill however and his partnership with big Cliff led to Gordon leaving soon after. He died all too soon back in 1990 at the all too young age of 58.
Dwindling crowds as the fate of the season became obvious welcomed Shrewsbury Town for a Wednesday evening fixture on the 6th May 1959 pictured above. The Shrews were on the verge of securing promotion and infront of under 6000 spectators duly walloped the Hornets 4-1. In the photograph above you can see the old East Stand and Red Lion in the distance. Mike Collins was in goal as he had been for the season after playing a bench warming role at Chelsea while Vince McNeice a culry haired centre-half looks on aghast. McNeice a certified engineer stationed at RAF Northwood played as centreback with distinction for the Hornets from 1957 until 1964 when he retired from football in England and thankfully is still with us.
The goalscorer here heading in the third completely unmarked was Ray Russell who joined the Shrews from non league after starting out at near neighbours WBA . He is a club legend and top ten all time goalscorer for them and was still around until 2018 keeping an eye on his beloved team. After retirement he returned to the job he carried on with while playing as a woodsman. Seeing as both sides played in blue it might have been a difficult game for the officials as changes of strip were very uncommon.
I’m intrigued by your very last sentence there, which I’ve never thought about before. It doesn’t surprise me that clubs wouldn’t have had ‘change’ or ‘second’ strips years ago but, if two teams wore the same colours, would the ref really just have to get on with it or was there perhaps at least an insistence on different shorts or socks? Do you have any further info on this?
Skins I presume
Back: Mike Walker John Williams Walter 'Wally' Lees Tom Walley Keith Eddy Duncan Welbourne Brian Owen Front: Dixie Hale Roy Sinclair Terry Garbett Barry Endean Stewart Scullion
After fifty years and a near miss two seasons prior to the 1968-69 season under Ken Furphy Watford were finally promoted to the second tier for the first time. The title was secured on goal ratio from Swindon Town. The basis of the success was built on a tight defence with Mike Walker to the fore in goal. He kept 22 clean sheets joining at the start of the season and remaining in goal throughout. His son Ian also ended up as a keeper. The squad remained confined to just 19 players with Eddy, Welbourne and Walley playing every match. That included a first round exit to Luton but a deep cup run which ended in a replay defeat at home to Manchester United infront of a record crowd.
Barry Endean was picked up like John Barnes in a municipal park. Having started out in a career as a welder he was spotted by an Everton scout but could not settle in Merseyside. Watford had heard about the striker knocking in goals for fun in the local amateur leagues in the North East and at the age of 22 halfway during the season joined Watford. In the space of just half a season he knocked in 20 goals in 33 matches. A 1-0 away win at Swindon was a huge boost to promotion hopes and the dream was achieved when Roy Sinclair scored in the second half against Plymouth Argyle on Tuesday 15th April 1969 followed by a pitch invasion. The season was made all the sweeter as Luton missed out on promotion finishin third and three points behind Watford and Swindon.
You’ve just recounted my earliest memories of WFC, although I didn’t go to a game until 1970 (0-1 v L*t*n).
M.Walker, S. Scullion, R. Hale, T. Williams, D. Welbourne, B. Owen, B. Lewis, E. Aitken (trainer) Front: R. Green, B. Garvey, K. Eddy, T.Walley, T. Garbett
So promotion to the Second Division. It was a struggle for the team to get going all season. Eight matches until the first win against Aston Villa and a slump at the end of the season of seven games without a win. Punctuated by an unusual winter friendly against Gornik Zabrze from Poland. Huddersfield ended up as champions with Aston Villa and Preston North End relegated. Barry Endean despite it all managed to hit twenty goals for the season including the one against Liverpool in the FA Cup quarter final. Watford moved into a semifinal against Chelsea at White Hart Lane which resembled more a sandy beach than a grassy pitch and were hammered 5-1 despite Terry Garbetts tremendous equalizer past the late Peter Bonetti then to be villified for the 1970 World Cup failure.
The squad had barely changed from that which had won promotion and Ken Furphy was left feeling dissatisfied.
August 1963 at Mansfield Town Back (l to r): C Livesey D Welbourne Pat Jennings G Catleugh R Bell Front: R Spelman J McAnearney B Jones (Captain) K Oliver G Harris V McNeice
The 1963-64 season. Under Bill McGarry the side was almost on the verge of securing promotion to the second tier for the first time. The Hornets finished third two points behind a Jommu Hill inspired Coventry City and Crystal Palace. Luton were beaten 2-0 at home but secured a win at the Kennel 2-1. The FA Cup run was ever so brief. After a win at the Posh the squad tumbled out in the second round to Newport County.
Of the squad above Pat Jennings is the most well known. Spotted at an international youth tournament in Northern Ireland Pat was in impressive form all season and was whisked off to top flight Tottenham in the summer. Charlie Livesey from the East End started off with Southampton before moving to Chelsea where he impressed as a forward. Highly skilled having learnt his trade in street football his application was however detrimental to his career. He clearly had the ability to be a top flight player but his application and training off the pitch let him down. Nonetheless he scored some outstanding goals from all sorts of positions outside of the box and bagged 23 in the season when managed by Bill. His application was doubted by Furphy when he arrived. Probably classed as one of the southern softies Ken moved him on quite swiftly.
Robert 'Bobby' Bell was a Scottish right back. Brought to the team by Neil McBain. McBain had been a player and player-manager at Watford in the late twenties and early thirties and after managing Ayr Unired returned to Watford in 1956 after a gap of nineteen years and some time in Argentina managing Estudiantes. Bell was thoroughly dependable, hard working and not the first crunch tackling fullback to play for the Hornets. After winning promotion to the Third Division he was part of the team that nearly made it to the second tier. The following season 1964-65 saw McGarry move to Ipswich where he eventually took them into the First Division laying the platform for Bobby Robson and the arrival of Ken Furphy. Furphy at the time was still a right back himself and played and managed. He had no time for Bell who reciprocated in kind and in no short order Bell was moved on. Bell stayed in the area though working for Rolls Royce Leavesden and playing in the County League for them before managing Leverstock Green for a time.
George Catleugh played as a right sided midfielder and right back. Signed by Len Goulden in 1954 after his Nuneaton Borough side beat Watford in the FA Cup. Another solid reliable player he had a long career at Vicarage Road despite breaking a leg in 1962. He thoroughly enjoyed his time at Watford and the team spirit created by Burgess and McGarry. He lived on in the local area until his passing.
Jim McAnearney and his brother Tom both started at the Owls. Tom had a distinguished career with them but Jim soon left unable to secure a regular spot as an inside forward for Plymouth before turning up at the Vic. A less than prolific striker he like Graham Taylor took his coaching badges early and he slipped into management at Bradford after leaving the Hornets and serving as a coach under Tommy Docherty. After leaving the sport entirely he set up an engineering business in Sheffield. The machine tools business is still in operation.
Bryn Jones the captain here was brother of the far more famous Cliff a Tottenham and Wales legend. Indeed his entire family were Welsh internationals at one point or another.
A solid short stature left back that chatted amiably enough before kick off but left his mark after it and was a keen exponent of the slide tackle. He was tough as anything and was brought to Watford along with the speedy forward Ron Spelman from Bournemouth when McGarry left after a falling out with the chairman there. Bryn retired and became a school teacher at the local Clarendon School which later formed part of Sir James Altham in Oxhey and which is now demolished.
Ken Oliver also short of stature was a powerful striker and header of a ball. A legend at Oakwell where he scored at a rate of a goal in every two games and was signed in 1963 for £10000. He scored freely enough before moving to Bournemouth followed by a career as a coach working with Keith Burkinshaw at Newcastle. Very sadly he only passed away this February. George Harris of Finchley started out at Tottenham before moving to Newport having been spotted at ayouth match turning his fullback inside and out all game. Signed by Ron Burgess he entered the first team without a thought and scored freely. He continued the scoring at Reading after being labelled another southern softie by Ken Furphy and made the moev to Elm Park managed by Chelsea legend Roy Bentley. He has fond memories like many of the other players of the period of their time at Watford and the close knit community it was at the time.
Terry Mancini born Terry Seely was a dominant centre half during this season after gradually working his way into the first team in the previous seasons. Hard working and making the most of his ability a serious leg injury saw him leave Watford for South Africa before being reborn almost and playing in the top division with QPR and Arsenal and playing internationally for Ireland.
Bunny Larkin real name Bernard was a Brummie. A prolific scorer in youth football for Rockwood Albion he joined the Blues in 1952 as an amateur. Progress was slow given the number of players Birmingham had on their books.He turned professional on reaching the age of 18 and ended up playing in the precursor to the UEFA Cup the Fairs Cup against Barcelona in both legs in 1957. Larkin managed to knock 23 goals in the 1958-59 season in the top flight. Two footed and quicksilver his form dropped in the following season and saw a move to Norwich. He achieved promotion with the Canaries from the Third to Second Division but far less prolific having moved deeper into midfield. A role he played at Watford after joining from Doncaster a division below. Furphy was none too impressed and at what should have been the prime of his career he returned to the lowest rung of professional football with Lincoln before ending up in local non league football. It is more than arguable he greatly underachieved given his ability and initial promise.
Of the squad pictured only Jennings, McNeice and Harris are still with us as is Mancini.
Neil McBain at the far right of the picture was now entrenched as manager having hung up his boots from playing but clearly not training as in this pre-season photograph. McBain as a manager in his first spell managed to get the side to improve consistently finishing this season in eleventh but turning Vicarage Road into a fortress. However he was unable to get players to remain so losing one good player and having to find another which meant squad strength never reached what it should have done.
Billy Lane an inside forward who started out at Tottenham but made his name at Brentford arrived at the season start (third from left second row) and was the top scorer having belted a three minute hat trick against Leyton Orient in the season. A prolific scorer he netted 68 league goals in 124 appearances. When manager of Brighton in the Third Division South his team thumped Watford 6-0 to gain promotion in 1958 where 4 goals were scored by the home side in five minutes. A proponent of expansive football he eventually became a scout for Arsenal and Brighton passing away in 1985 at his beloved Seagulls and a Brentford legend.