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History of Watford Football Club

The early years

The history of Watford Football Club started off as Watford Rovers in 1881, when George Devereux de Vere Capell, Earl of Essex and owner of Cassiobury Park, gave a group of boys permission to use the grounds for football. Strangely enough, part of the initial deal was that the team wouldn’t play any competitive matches on the grounds!

Over the next five years the team participated exclusively in friendly matches against schools and local clubs. In the 1886–87 season, Watford Rovers entered the FA Cup for the first time, although they were eliminated in their opening game.

Professional football

In 1893, the club was renamed ‘West Hertfordshire’. The team joined the Southern League for the 1896–97 season. From then on, the team began to include paid professionals rather than just amateur players. In 1898, West Hertfordshire merged with Watford St Mary’s to form Watford Football Club.

In 1920, Watford and the rest of the Southern League joined the Football League Third Division. They remained in the Third Division South until 1958 when the national divisions were restructured and they were placed in the Fourth Division.

Vicarage Road Stadium

In 1922, the team moved to a new stadium on Vicarage Road, which has been the home of Watford FC ever since. The team’s nickname became ‘The Hornets’ because of their gold shirts and black shorts.

Elton John

Superstar Elton John is a huge, lifelong Watford fan. He became President in 1973 and Chairman from 1976. He declared it his ambitious mission to take Watford into the First Division, despite them still being in the Fourth Division at that point. But he came through and the club reached the First Division in 1982 with the help of their most famous manager, Graham Taylor, and actually finished the season as runners up to Liverpool! The stadium now has stands dedicated to both Elton John and Graham Taylor.

Financial difficulties

The club purchased the freehold for the stadium from the original owners in 2002, however its financial situation forced directors to sell it and lease back the stadium later on in the same year. Many of the side’s players were sold and others took a pay cut as the club faced a serious risk of administration. Thankfully, after a campaign entitled ‘Let’s Buy Back The Vic’ with donations coming from fans, as well as Elton John performing a fundraising concert at the stadium, the club was able to repurchase Vicarage Road in September 2004.

Watford Football Club today

The history of Watford Football Club is still in the making… In recent years, Watford has been up and down between the Premiership and the Championship, going through a series of managers and achieving varied levels of success. In the 2021-22 season, the club came 19th in the Premiership, meaning they were relegated to the Championship once again. However, as a club with such a turbulent and exciting history, they are sure to bounce back!

And for one last time, Elton John will be playing for two nights at Vicarage Road as part of his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour. For those who’ve managed to get tickets, it should be a night to remember!

If you fancy making the trip to watch the historic Hornets play, contact us to discuss all your accommodation requirements today.


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