Video of the Day: Watford vs Wolverhampton Wanderers, January 1981
The late 1970s and early 1980s were an exciting time to be a Watford supporter. Under the stewardship of Graham Taylor, the Hornets had been promoted from the Fourth Division in 1978 and had managed a second successive promotion a year later, and while the club’s upward ascent had stalled slightly in the second tier of the English league system, by the time of the Fourth Round of the FA Cup in 1981 it was comfortably positioned in a mid-table position in the Second Division and still looking in an upward direction.
The 1980/81 season would finish with Watford in ninth place in Division Two, but much better was to come. The following year, the club won promotion to the First Division for the first time in its history, finishing in second place behind local rivals Luton Town, and the year after that the club marked its first season in the top division by finishing as runners-up to Liverpool and earning a place in the following season’s UEFA Cup. Whilst the core of the team that did the club so well would, over the course of time, move on, Watford would remain in the top flight until 1988.
Amongst the other achievements that it would manage would be a first appearance in an FA Cup final, against Everton in 1984, but such days out were still a long way removed from the imagination of most supporters in January 1981 as Taylor’s team lined up to take on Wolverhampton Wanderers, then of the First Division, with captain Pat Rice having played in five of the previous ten FA Cup finals. The BBC’s Match of the Day cameras were at Vicarage Road for the match, and commentary comes from John Motson.
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