The Formative Years

In 1977 Sir Elton John appointed the late Graham Taylor OBE as manager of Watford FC and their vision for a successful team on the pitch and a pioneering community club flourished.  At the time, football was struggling with hooliganism and the Government were considering introducing supporter membership cards, but Watford FC became pioneers in creating a family friendly club which belonged to the community. Players were encouraged to visit schools, work places and local pubs and these activities formed the basis for the creation of the Football in the Community scheme and the charitable Trust in later years.

Trivia Time

In what time did Graham Taylor finish the 1983 London Marathon?

  • 2 hrs 59 mins
  • 3 hrs 21 mins
  • 4 hrs 5 mins
marathon

Highlights of the Era

Graham Taylor runs in the 1983 London marathon raising £27,000 for the construction of the Family Terrace.

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The Family Enclosure had been created in front of the Main Stand in 1980, and proved a great success.  So too had the Junior Hornets, launched in the same year.  The club wanted to go further in its family initiatives by constructing a new Family Terrace in a little-used part of the ground alongside the Main Stand.  Resources were limited, so Graham Taylor ran the London Marathon in April 1983 to raise the funding.  

A sponsorship scheme was set up.  A form was stapled into the programme for one match, and appeals were made in subsequent programmes.  Sponsors had their names printed in recognition of their support.  

Ultimately the Terrace cost £29,234 to build, almost all of which was covered by donations.  This was the first Family Terrace to be constructed at a British football ground.  

By the way, Graham completed the marathon in the very respectable time of 3 hours 21 minutes!

 

The "Football Friends” community tournament was launched in 1986 in conjunction with Hertfordshire Constabulary.

The Family Enclosure opened in front of the Main Stand, the first of its kind in any football ground in Britain.

The Junior Hornets club launched in 1980 under the stewardship of the formidable Ann Swanson.

Watford FC’s community work is recognised as they win the prestigious Radio Times/Canon League Family Awards in both 1984 and 1985.

A number of community initiatives were developed and launched up to 1991, including the “Watford Outwards Bound Scheme” for disadvantaged fans, the Watford International Festival of Football, a Street Football competition and Carols by Floodlight at Vicarage Road.

“One year [1985] he (Sir Elton John) came and gave out Easter eggs with me to all the kids in the family enclosure which was brilliant."

Ann Swanson

Share Your Memories

Do you have any memories or photos of meeting Graham and the players at community events, if so, we would love to hear them.
Were you a Junior Hornet?  Do you have any memories of sitting in the Family Enclosure/Terrace with Ann Swanson?
If so, please share them with your fellow ‘Orns and we will publish the best memories and pictures.

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