Watford FC: the 1970s

Geoff Wicken

Watford began the 1970s in Division 2.  A run to the FA Cup semi-final in 1970 provided great excitement, but the league proved a struggle.  After twice finishing just above the relegation places, Watford’s third season at the higher level brought relegation in 1972.

The decline continued, and in April 1975 Watford found themselves relegated to Division 4.

Off the pitch, Elton John had joined the board in 1974, and in 1976 he became the majority owner.  In 1977 he hired Graham Taylor as manager, and Watford’s great adventure began.

1977-78 saw Watford win the fourth division championship.  1978-79 brought promotion as third division runners-up and a run to the League Cup semi-final – including a victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford.  Graham Taylor had led the team to two promotions in his first two seasons, and Watford finished the 1970s back in Division 2.


The Golden Games:

21st February 1970: FA Cup round 6

Watford 1 Liverpool 0

Victories away to Bolton and at home to Stoke and Gillingham put Watford through to the sixth round of the FA Cup, a stage beyond which they had never progressed.  The draw brought a home tie against Liverpool, then as now one of the country’s leading sides.  On a mud-bath of a pitch at Vicarage Road, Barry Endean met Ray Lugg’s cross with a flying header to send Watford through to their first-ever FA Cup semi-final.

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


3rd October 1977: Football League Division 4

Brentford 0 Watford 3

Watford started well in Graham Taylor’s first season.  Eight wins in the first 10 league games meant they were top of the table.  This Monday night game at rivals Brentford (who were to be promoted at the end of the season) represented a big test.  Before a large crowd for a fourth division game of 14,500, the Hornets passed the test with flying colours – goals from Ellis, Jenkins and Mayes resulting in a 3-0 win.  Watford were clearly a force in the league, and would end up 11 points clear as champions.

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


4th October 1978: Football League Cup round 3

Manchester United 1 Watford 2

1978-79 proved to be the most remarkable season to date in Watford FC’s history.  As well as winning promotion (for the second successive season) they reached the semi-final of the League Cup as a third division side.  The third round draw took Watford to Old Trafford where they beat Manchester United.  A goal down at half-time, two spectacular headers from Luther Blissett – who instantly became a household name – gave Watford a memorable win.

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


14th May 1979: Football League Division 3

Watford 4 Hull City 0

The last few weeks of the 1978-79 season were very tense.  Watford’s push for promotion seemed to be running out of steam, and a sequence of very mixed results meant that the last three games all needed to be won.  Chester were beaten 1-0 at Vicarage Road, and then Watford won 3-2 away to Sheffield Wednesday (a huge win, this).  The final match was a re-arranged game against Hull City on a Monday night.  It proved a magical evening, as goals from Bolton, Jenkins, Blissett and Joslyn brought a 4-0 win which secured promotion.

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 was a small boy standing on tip toes at the vicarage road end on the night watford won 4-0 against Hull City. A famous night made specially Graham and Elton serenading the crowd at full timrpe

    By Adrian Robson (15/01/2023)
  • I was at the Liverpool, Brentford and Hull matches. As you say, some of the greatest memories of the 70’s (especially for a then teenager). But I also saw Stewart Scullion in tears after Watford we’re relegated to division 4 at home to Walsall. And burned my scarf when they were bottom of division 4 the next season.
    Memories like that make the good times even sweeter though.

    By Paul Matarewicz (09/04/2019)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.