From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - 07/2015
Watford Football Club
The Golden Boys,
The Championship, 2nd (promoted)
Watford Football Club is a football club based in Hertfordshire, England.
Founded in 1881 as Watford Rovers, the club entered the FA Cup for the first time in 1886, and the Southern League a decade later.
After finishing the 1914-15 season as Southern League champions under the management of Harry Kent, Watford joined the Football League in 1920.
The club played at several grounds in its early history, before moving to a permanent location at Vicarage Road in 1922, where it remains to this day.
Watford spent most of the following half century in the lower divisions of The Football League, changing colours and crest on multiple occasions.
England manager Graham Taylor's tenure at the club saw Watford scale new heights.
Between Taylor's appointment in 1977 and departure in 1987, Watford rose from the Fourth Division to the First Division.
The team finished second in the First Division in the 1982-83 season, competed in the UEFA Cup in 1983-84, and also reached the 1984 FA Cup Final.
Watford experienced a decade of decline between 1987 and 1997, before Taylor returned as full-time manager, leading the team to successive promotions from the renamed Second Division to the Premier League for one season in 1999-2000.
The club experienced a further one season stint in the top division of English football during the 2006-07 season, under Aidy Boothroyd's management.
Watford will compete in the Premier League for the first time in eight years in the 2015-16 season, after clinching promotion from the Football League Championship in the 2014-15 season.
Watford is currently owned by the Pozzo family, which also owns Udinese Calcio in Italy and Granada CF in Spain.
Sir Elton John, who owned Watford during both of Graham Taylor's successful periods as manager, served alongside Taylor as the club's joint Honorary Life President, until 2008, only to later resume the role which he now shares alongside Graham Taylor.
Watford Rovers was formed in 1881 by Henry Groverand, who went on to play for the club as a full-back.
Rovers, originally composed entirely of amateur players, held home games at several locations in the town of Watford.
The team first competed in the FA Cup in the 1886-87 season, and in 1889 Watford won the County Cup for the first time.
The team became the football section of West Hertfordshire Sports Club in 1890, and consequently moved to a ground on Cassio Road.
Renamed as West Hertfordshire in 1893, Rovers joined the Southern Football League in 1896, and started to pay professional footballers in 1897.
West Hertfordshire merged with local rivals Watford St Mary's in 1898; the merged team was named Watford Football Club.
Following relegation to the Southern League Second Division in 1903, Watford appointed its first manager - former England international and First Division top scorer John Goodall.
He led Watford to promotion, and kept the team in the division until his departure in 1910.
Despite financial constraints, Watford won the Southern League title in the 1914-15 season under his successor, Harry Kent.
Watford held the title for five years following the suspension of the Southern League during the First World War after finishing the 1919-20 season runners-up on goal average, the club resigned from the Southern League to join the new Football League Third Division.
From 1921-22, the third tier of The Football League consisted of two parallel sections of 22 clubs, fighting both for promotion to the Second Division and also battling to hold on to their league status.
There was a re-election system in place which meant the bottom two teams in each of the two divisions had to apply for re-election to the league.
Watford finished outside the top six league positions in every season between 1922 and 1934.
Following Kent's departure in 1926, they finished 21st out of 22 clubs in 1926-27, but were unanimously re-elected to the league after a ballot of clubs in the top two divisions of The Football League.
By contrast, under Neil McBain and subsequently Bill Findlay, the team recorded five consecutive top six finishes between 1934-35 and 1938-39, and won the Football League Third Division South Cup in 1937.
The Football League was suspended in 1939 due to the Second World War.
Football resumed in 1946, with Watford still in the Third Division South.
A 23rd-placed finish in 1950-51 meant that the club had to apply for re-election to the league once more, but again teams in the First and Second Divisions unanimously voted for Watford to stay in the league.
McBain returned in 1956, and the team remained in the division until 1958; the league was restructured into four national divisions for the 1958-59 season, and Watford were placed in the Fourth Division.
Ron Burgess replaced McBain during that season, and in the following campaign Burgess presided over Watford's first Football League promotion.
This team included Fourth Division top scorer Cliff Holton, who scored a club record 42 league goals in the season.
Holton was sold to Northampton the following year after another 34 goals, to the anger of supporters.
Burgess was succeeded by Bill McGarry, who bought new players such as Charlie Livesey and Ron Saunders, and in his only season at the club led the club to what was at the time its highest ever league position: third in the Third Division.
Eighteen-year-old Northern Irish goalkeeper Pat Jennings also featured under McGarry, and made his international debut despite being a Third Division player.
McGarry joined Ipswich in 1964, and was replaced by player-manager Ken Furphy, from Workington.
Furphy rebuilt the team around players such as Keith Eddy and Dennis Bond, but after holding Liverpool to a draw in the FA Cup and narrowly failing to win promotion in 1966-67, Bond was sold to Tottenham for £30,000, Watford's record transfer receipt at the time.
Furphy's rebuilding came to fruition in 1969 with the signing of Barry Endean, whose arrival marked the start of an unbeaten run after Christmas.
Watford secured the league title in April, at home to Plymouth Argyle.
A year later Watford reached the FA Cup semi-final for the first time, defeating First Division teams Stoke City and Liverpool along the way.
However, hampered by a lack of funds, Furphy eventually joined Blackburn Rovers, to be succeeded by George Kirby.
Forced to sell players to survive, Watford fell back into the Third Division in 1972.
The team continued to struggle in the third tier, and despite a managerial change, Watford were relegated again in 1975.
ELTON JOHN ERA
Lifelong Watford supporter Elton John became club chairman in 1976.
The singer declared an ambition to take the team into the First Division, and sacked Kirby's successor Mike Keen in April 1977.
When Graham Taylor was named as Keen's successor, the club was still in the Fourth Division.
Taylor achieved promotion in his first season.
Watford won the Fourth Division title, recording the most wins, fewest defeats, most goals scored and fewest goals conceded of any side in the division.
Promotion to the Second Division followed in 1978-79, and Ross Jenkins finished the season as the league's top scorer with 29 goals.
Watford consolidated with 18th and 9th placed finishes over the following two seasons, and secured promotion to the First Division for the first time in 1981-82, finishing second behind rivals Luton Town.
Watford started the 1982-83 season with four league wins from the opening five fixtures; in the space of seven years, the club had climbed from bottom place in the lowest division of The Football League, to top position in the highest division.
Watford were unable to maintain a title challenge, but eventually finished the season second behind Liverpool, which ensured UEFA Cup qualification for the following season.
Luther Blissett finished the season as the First Division top scorer, before signing for Italian Serie A side A.C. Milan for £1 million at the end of the season.
An FA Cup final appearance followed in 1984, although Watford lost to Everton.
After guiding Watford to a ninth-place finish in 1986-87, Taylor left the club to manage Aston Villa.
Following Taylor's departure, Wimbledon manager Dave Bassett was appointed as his replacement, and England winger John Barnes was sold to Liverpool.
After 4 wins from his opening 23 league fixtures, Bassett was sacked in January 1988.
Watford were bottom of the First Division at the time of his departure, and Steve Harrison could not prevent relegation at the end of the season.
In 1988-89, Harrison's Watford failed to return to the First Division, after defeat in the Second Division play-offs.
The under-18 team won the FA Youth Cup, beating Manchester City 2:1 after extra time, with future England international David James in goal for the Hornets.
Harrison departed in 1990, and over the next few years, the closest Watford came to promotion was a seventh-placed finish in Division One in the 1994-95 season.
However, in the following season - Glenn Roeder's third as manager – Watford struggled.
Despite the return of Graham Taylor as caretaker manager in February 1996, the club was relegated to Division Two.
Following the relegation, Taylor became Director of Football, with former Watford midfielder Kenny Jackett as manager.
After a mid-table finish in Division Two in 1996-97, Jackett was demoted to the position of assistant manager.
Taylor returned as manager, and won the Second Division title in 1997-98 - Watford's second league title under his management.
A second successive promotion followed in 1998-99, thanks to a 2:0 play-off final victory over Bolton Wanderers.
Watford's first Premiership season started with an early victory over Liverpool, but Watford's form soon faded, and the club was relegated after finishing bottom.
Graham Taylor retired at the end of the 2000-01 season, and was replaced by Gianluca Vialli.
Wage bills at the club rose by £4 million during Vialli's tenure, and the club finished 14th in the division in 2001-02.
Vialli was sacked at the end of the season, following a dispute with the club's board over the wage bill.
He was replaced by Ray Lewington, who had joined the club the previous summer as Vialli's reserve team manager.
Watford's weak financial position was exposed in 2002-03, following the collapse of ITV Digital.
The club was facing administration, but an agreement by players and staff to a 12% wage deferral helped the club's cash flow, and a run to the FA Cup semi-final generated vital revenue.
Financial constraints saw a large number of players released that summer.
After consolidating in 2003-04, the following season started well, with the club in the upper half of the Championship at the end of September.
However, poor form saw the club drop towards the relegation zone.
Despite reaching the semi-final of the League Cup, Watford's league form did not improve, and Lewington was sacked in March 2005.
His successor, Aidy Boothroyd, led the club to Championship survival.
RETURN TO THE PREMIER LEAGUE
Watford finished third in the league in Boothroyd's first full season, and defeated Leeds United 3:0 in the play-off final to gain promotion to the Premier League.
But the team did not record a Premier League win until November, and Ashley Young was sold to Aston Villa for a club record fee of £9.65 million in January 2007.
Watford finished bottom after only winning five league games, but did reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
Boothroyd continued as manager, and spent heavily on players, including a club record £3.25 million for Nathan Ellington.
Watford led the Championship by several points early in 2007-08, but only finished 6th; Boothroyd's team were defeated 6:1 on aggregate by Hull City in the play-off semi-finals.
Boothroyd left the club by mutual consent three months into the 2008-09 season, with Watford 21st in the Championship table.
Under Boothroyd's successor, Brendan Rodgers, Watford finished 13th.
Rodgers left to manage Reading at the end of the season.
Malky Mackay, who had previously served as caretaker manager, was his replacement.
Amid the departures of several key players during Mackay's tenure, including Tommy Smith and Jay DeMerit, and the club coming close to administration, Watford finished 16th in 2009-10 and 14th the following season.
Mackay left to manage Cardiff City in June 2011, and was replaced by Sean Dyche.
Despite presiding over Watford's highest league position in four years, Dyche was dismissed as Watford manager in July 2012.
He was replaced by former Italy international Gianfranco Zola, following the Pozzo family's purchase of the club.
POZZO FAMILY ERA
Following a successful 2012-13 season which saw a league-best 85 goals scored, Watford ultimately finished third in the Championship, narrowly missing out on an automatic promotion place by two points, behind Hull City.
In the promotion play-off semi-final, Watford was defeated by Leicester City 1:0 in the away leg, but won 3:1 at home, with Troy Deeney scoring the winning goal on a last-second injury time attack following a Leicester penalty kick miss to advance to the final. Watford was defeated in the final by Crystal Palace, 1:0, on an extra-time penalty by Kevin Phillips.
Watford went into the 2013/14 season full of confidence.
They started the season well with positive results, including a 6:1 win over Bournemouth and then a 5:1 win over Barnsley.
Although the form soon dipped and Watford struggled losing five consecutive home matches.
This lack of form ultimately led to Gianfranco Zola's departure from the club.
In December 2013, Watford appointed Beppe Sannino as their new manager and finished the 2013/14 season in 13th place.
Despite winning four of the first five league games of the 2014/15 season, Beppe Sannino's future at Watford was subject to much speculation after it emerged some players were unhappy with his management style.
Sannino resigned from his position as Watford manager on 31 August 2014 with the club 2nd in the table, despite winning 4:2 at home to Huddersfield Town the previous day.
Two days later, on 2 September 2014, Watford confirmed the appointment of former Brighton & Hove Albion head coach Óscar Garcia as the club's new manager and the successor to Sannino, beating off competition from fellow Championship side Leeds United for his services.
However, Garcia resigned from his position as Watford manager on 29 September 2014, for health reasons having been admitted to hospital with chest pains after the game against Charlton Athletic.
Billy McKinlay, who had only been appointed first team coach on 26 September 2014, was appointed as his immediate successor on the same day - his first position in management after spells as a coach with Fulham, and as assistant manager with Northern Ireland.
However, on 7 October McKinlay was replaced as Watford head coach by ex-Chelsea defensive-midfielder Slaviša Jokanović.
0n 25 April 2015, Watford gained promotion to the Premier League after defeating Brighton 2:0 and other results went their way.
Almost Immediately after getting the club promoted Slaviša Jokanović was replaced at the end of his contract by Spaniard Quique Flores.
Watford's first fixture in their return to the Premier League is against Everton F.C. and will take place at Goodison Park on the 8th August.