Watford FC: the 1960s

Geoff Wicken

The 1960s saw Watford FC moving up in the world.  The league re-organisation of 1958 placed the club in Division 4, but – after a switch from blue to gold shirts in 1959 and the adoption of ‘the Hornets’ as a new nickname – Watford won promotion to Division 3 in 1960.  For good measure they also reached the fifth round of the FA Cup.  Cliff Holton scored 48 goals, and Dennis Uphill got 36.

Watford established themselves in the third division, and only narrowly failed to win promotion in 1963-64.  Ken Furphy joined as manager in November 1964 and led the club to a series of top-half finishes, including another promotion near-miss in 1966-67.

In 1968-69 everything fell into place.  A fine season, based on a tight defence, the leadership of Keith Eddy and the goals of Barry Endean ended with Watford clinching the third division championship, ahead of Swindon on goal average.

After the best part of 100 years in the lower reaches of English football, Watford had finally reached the promised land of Division 2.


The Golden Games:


16th April 1960: Football League Division 4

Watford 5 Gateshead 0

It was common until the 1980s for teams to play consecutive days at Christmas and Easter.  Watford’s 1959-60 fixture list included Easter home games on Good Friday and Easter Saturday.  These were key games as Watford were challenging for promotion, which was ultimately achieved.  Star player Cliff Holton had grabbed a hat-trick against Chester in a 4-2 win on Good Friday.  On Easter Saturday Gateshead were beaten 5-0 as Holton scored a second hat-trick in two days – one of only two such instances in Football League history.

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


15th April 1969: Football League Division 3

Watford 1 Plymouth 0

For a generation of Watford fans this was the night of which they had dreamed.  After years of lower-league football, Watford’s 1968-69 team stood on the verge of achieving promotion to Division 2.  There were four more games to play after this one, but only one more win was required to secure the necessary number of points.  Early in the second half Roy Sinclair tried his luck from distance.  His luck was in.  The ball struck the Plymouth crossbar and bounced down.  Was it over the line?  Quite possibly not, but the goal was given.  Watford held out for the rest of the game and the celebrations began.

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

This page was added on 24/05/2018.

Comments about this page

  • I saw Watford beat Plymouth Argylle in 1969. Standing in the Rookery End we all ran onto the pitch after and celebrated it as promotion. I was so excited that I ran all the way home to the Holywell estate . Pure joy. Since I was young, I’ve followed them!

    By Paul carvajal (31/12/2018)
  • Watford 4 Chester 2 was my first ever football match. Good Friday April 15 1960. I was nine years old. My older brother took me on the 318 bus from the village of Sarratt nearby. I still have the memory of big, muscular Cliff Holton scoring goals. We stood at the Vicarage Road end. I was surprised to see a long column of many fans switching ends to the Shrodells end at half time. I was impressed by the advertisement for the Gaumont cinema where I had occasionally been to watch films. All very grown up. I still have my Hornets old wooden rattle which makes a right din, a mix of ochre [on the end] and black [by the handle, which is white].

    By John Livingstone-Learmonth (05/11/2018)

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