For a club just down the road, us and Watford were poles apart for so long. Now, however, we’re probably their main threat as ‘The Pride of Hertfordshire’. Let’s be honest – who else could it be? Barnet? Haha – that’s a good ‘un Rodney. But it’s been a big upward curve for us to get within touching distance of the Hornets. And there’s still some work we gotta do as they remain our county’s team to beat in Hertfordshire.
Mind you, we only did it once to date. It’ll happen again one day soon, however. For us, it looks like it means breaking through into the top two divisions first. That’s something we’ve not done either. So, perhaps one will lead to the other and we can take the mantle of Herts’ best team from the Hornets? There’s always the chance they’ll have a massive fall from grace too. But we wouldn’t bet on it. Even if they do struggle to survive in the Premier League.
The Hornets’ story goes all the way back to 1881 – but we’re not gonna get into the detail. We just don’t have the time. In the late 19th century, the club joined the Southern League; going on to lift the title in 1914-5 – the last champions before World War One stopped the action. In the first campaign back after the conflict, a second title was only denied on goal average. And it’d be their last in the Southern League. The Football League came calling.
For much of the next 50 years, however, you’d catch the Hornets buzzing around towards the bottom of the ladder. It wasn’t ’til 1960 when they were promoted for the first time; that taking them up into the old Division Three. Nearly a decade later, they reached as high as the Second Division for the first time. And they reached the FA Cup semi-finals too. But then they suffered two relegations in three years to end up back in Division Four.
Good times weren’t long in returning to Vicarage Road. In 1978, the Division Four title put them back into Division Three. A year later, the Hornets finished runners-up and earned a second straight promotion. So, it was back to Division Two. There was also a League Cup semi-final too, but they lost to a strong Nottingham Forest side. Then, in 1982, a new high point for the Hornets as they reached the top flight for the first time.
Why do we know Watford?
Even then, the Hornets kept scaling new heights under boss Graham Taylor and chairman Elton John. They came second (albeit a distant second) to Liverpool in the 1982-3 season, before Everton ended their hopes of a first-ever FA Cup in 1984. The Hornets continued to mix it at the top table during the mid-80s; a time when Boro’ were only just getting familiar with the Isthmian League. There were about six divisions between ours and theirs.
We weren’t getting anywhere near the FA Cup First Round either. So, maybe it’s no shock to learn that Herts Senior Cup action would be the reason we’d first run into each other.
How to get to Watford – Travel Information – Distance: 23 miles
Take the A1(M) south and leave it after coming out the other side of the Hatfield Tunnel. Take the A414 towards St Albans and – at the Park Street roundabout – use the second exit for the A405 towards the M25. Continue over the M25 and then take the M1 south.
Exit the M1 soon after at Junction 5 and head into Watford on the A4008. You’ll go over one roundabout. But, at the second in front of a Premier Inn, take the second exit for the A411 Beechen Grove.
Follow the one-way system around to the left, before bearing off left after nearly half-a-mile. This is Vicarage Road. There’s a natty left/right/left combo to negotiate before you reach the stadium.
No parking is available at the ground and street parking is also off the table due to local resident schemes. Don’t think about trying Watford General Hospital either. Instead, try one of the many options in the town centre; the easiest of which is Church Car Park. It’s inside the ring road opposite the turn for Vicarage Road.
Station: WATFORD HIGH STREET
Services to: LONDON EUSTON
Leave the station on Lower High Street, turning left and left again onto Exchange Road. Follow this around to Vicarage Road and turn left, heading more or less in a straight line.
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