Watford FC: the 1980s

Geoff Wicken

The 1980s was Watford’s most successful decade to date.  With Elton John as Chairman and Graham Taylor as manager, the club continued its amazing climb up the football league.  Watford were promoted to Division 1 in 1982, and finished as runners-up to the mighty Liverpool in 1983.

This brought European football to Vicarage Road, with Watford winning through to the third round of the UEFA Cup.

Next, in 1984, Watford reached the FA Cup Final and played at Wembley.

After three more years of consolidation in the top division, Graham Taylor decided to move on.  Watford slipped back into the second division and the golden age was over.

 

The Golden Games:

2nd September 1980: League Cup second round, second leg

Watford 7 Southampton 1

Second division Watford had lost the first leg 0-4, and surely had no chance against Southampton, who were going well in Division 1.  But the incredible happened.  Watford were two up at half time, and when the third went in the crowd started to believe.  Even an own goal didn’t matter – Watford added two more to make it 5-1 after 90 minutes.  In extra time, two more goals made for a final score of 7-1 and a famous victory.

Were you there?  What are your memories of this match?  Share them in the comments section below.

 

4th May 1982: Football League Division 2

Watford 2 Wrexham 0

This was the night on which, after 100 years of existence, Watford finally reached the first division of English football.  After playing well all season, Graham Taylor’s team beat Wrexham 2-0 to clinch promotion, both goals coming from Ross Jenkins.  Fans had dreamed of this moment for years, but few had believed it would really happen.

Were you there?  What are your memories of this match?  Share them in the comments section below.

 

25th September 1982: Football League Division 1

Watford 8 Sunderland 0

Watford made an immediate impact on being promoted to Division 1.  This was the fourth home game, and the fourth victory.  And what a victory!  With four goals from Luther Blissett and two each from Jenkins and Callaghan, Watford dismantled Sunderland to the tune of 8-0.  English football sat up and noticed.

Were you there?  What are your memories of this match?  Share them in the comments section below.

 

14th May 1983: Football League Division 1

Watford 2 Liverpool 1

Watford rounded off their first season in Division 1 in great style against Liverpool, who were already champions.  Goals from Blissett and Patching gave Watford a 2-1 victory and guaranteed the Hornets a place in the next season’s UEFA Cup.  When the news came through that Manchester United had been beaten, Watford had finished as runners up.

Were you there?  What are your memories of this match?  Share them in the comments section below.

 

28th September 1983: UEFA Cup first round, second leg

Watford 3 Kaiserslautern 0

Watford’s first-ever match in European competition was a 1-3 defeat away to the German side Kaiserslautern.  Back at Vicarage Road, injuries meant Watford had to field a very young side for what seemed a huge task.  Yet within 10 minutes, through Ian Richardson and an own goal, Watford were level.  Richardson scored again in the second half and it finished 3-0 on the night.

Were you there?  What are your memories of this match?  Share them in the comments section below.

19th May 1984: FA Cup Final

Watford 0 Everton 2

1984 saw another milestone with Watford reaching the FA Cup final and playing at Wembley for the first time.  The whole town seemed to be decorated in yellow and red to mark the occasion.  On the day the match proved a disappointment.  Sharp and – with a challenge on Watford goalkeeper Steve Sherwood that most observers felt was a foul – Gray scored for Everton without reply.

Were you there?  What are your memories of this match?  Share them in the comments section below.

 

14th March 1987: FA Cup sixth round

Arsenal 1 Watford 3

The last great hurrah of the first Graham Taylor era was a high-quality win away to Arsenal.  After going one down, Watford went 2-1 ahead as Bardsley set up Luther Blissett and then John Barnes.  Late on, with Arsenal appealing for a penalty at one end, Blissett broke away to score at the other end.  Goalkeeping injuries scuppered Watford’s chances in the semi-final against Spurs.

Were you there?  What are your memories of this match?  Share them in the comments section below.

 

Click on a link below to read about another era in Watford FC’s history:

Pre-1960

The 1960s

The 1970s

The 1990s

The 2000s

The 2010s

Watford FC: Our Watford History

This page was added on 24/05/2018.

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