Watford FC is one of the most charismatic of the smaller clubs in the English Premier League. Watford is a large town just to the north-west of Greater London and its football team has a dedicated following from the surrounding area.
The beginnings of the Club go back to the 19th century when as a team of amateur players, Watford Rovers as it then was entered the FA Cup for the first time. It was not until after the First World War that Watford FC became a professional unit and entered the Football League.
For a long time there was very little for Watford’s faithful fans to talk about. The team were in the then bottom tier, the Third Division South for thirty-seven years until the League was reorganised into four divisions. Promotion to the Third in 1960, the Second in 1969 and an FA Cup semi-final in 1970. Sadly the next five years were to see all the good news unwind to a time when Watford were the bottom team of the entire League.
Salvation was to come in the form of a local boy who made good. Elton John the world famous singer and songwriter became Club Chairman in 1976 and appointed Graham Taylor as manager in 1977. Watford started climbing the divisions, ending up in the First Division in 1982. In their first season Watford finished second in the First Division with Luther Blissett’s 27 goals making him the highest scorer in the League. Watford thus qualified for the UEFA Cup and also reached their first FA Cup Final, losing 2-0 to Everton. Taylor eventually left and the Club were relegated.
Watford stayed in the second tier of English football for eight seasons, until they were relegated in 1995–96.[ Graham Taylor returned as manager in 1997, and managed for the second time in his career to lead Watford to consecutive promotions although he was unable to prevent relegation from the Premier League in 1999–2000.
In the 21st century Watford have reached two FA Cup semi-finals, one League Cup semi-final, and spent a further season in the Premier League after winning the 2006 Football League Championship play-off final under the management of Aidy Boothroyd. However the season was not a success as only five wins were recorded in the Premier League and relegation ensued. One bright spot was Watford reaching the FA Cup semi-finals where they were defeated by Manchester United. Watford remained for several seasons in the Championship (now the name for the second tier of English football). In 2008-9 they had the rare distinction of going through four managers.
Having missed out in the playoffs at the end of the 2013-14 season, Watford went one better and managed automatic qualification in second place. In 2015-16 opportunity awaits in shape of a highly lucrative but immensely competitive Premier League. Watford will be hoping that their successful team of 2014-15 including top scorer Troy Deeney and 20 goal Odion Ighalo will all come good. Entertainment value should be a feature of their matches in the months ahead.
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