JACK GRAN (1895-1901)

You may not have heard of Jack Gran.

He changed his name when he left Watford FC and it became known throughout the world.

John Joseph Gran was known as Jack Gran when he made his first appearance for West Herts in November 1895.

After the club changed its name to Watford FC, Jack played in the side that won the league in 1900. (Something called the “Bucks and Contiguous Counties League”, that is.)

In 1901, Jack decided to change careers. 

He became a music hall entertainer.

He also decided to change his name. (Perhaps inspired by West Herts changing its name to Watford FC?)

He took the stage name ‘Jack Cardiff’.

As Jack Cardiff, he toured theatres and music halls as part of a variety act, with his young son in tow. 

He performed in a show staged by the famous impresario Fred Karno (who discovered and trained Laurel and Hardy).

He worked as a comedian with Charlie Chaplin.

He also appeared as an extra in silent movies. He had a small role in the 1929 movie ‘The Informer’ — which is considered one of the finest British films of the era.

He died, ten years later, in 1939. He hadn’t made his name world-famous. 

But someone else who worked on the 1929 movie was starting to make the name Jack Cardiff famous. One of the production runners was his son, also called Jack.

Jack Cardiff (junior) became renowned behind the camera, first as a cinematographer, then as a director.

He won an Oscar for Best Cinematography in 1947.

He won a Golden Globe as Best Director for ‘Sons and Lovers’ in 1960.

He was awarded an Honorary Oscar in 2001 for extraordinary distinction in lifelong achievement. 

When Jack Cardiff (junior) died, aged 94, this true legend of cinema was still a Watford fan.

All his life, he supported the team from the town where he once lived (in Sutton Road) as the son of a former player. 

And so, on April 22nd 2009, after 70 years apart, father and son were reunited in Hornet Heaven. 

Some Watford fans, up there in the afterlife paradise where no one ages, find it slightly confusing that the father is 64 and the son is 94, but both Jack Cardiffs are treated as celebrities.

Thanks for reading.

Jack Gran/Cardiff has appeared in several of the Hornet Heaven audio stories (as an extra), often playing piano in the Supporters Club HQ or the Troy Deeney Atrium.

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Read about other “Deceased Players of the Month” here.