JOHNNY MEADOWS (1951-1961)

Johnny Meadows was a popular Watford captain.

Until he did something very bad indeed…

Johnny Meadows was a handsome and stylish wing-half and inside-forward who took cool penalties

He was a one-club man. He scored 49 goals for Watford in 244 appearances across ten years. He was a leader. 

But in April 1958 he led his team astray. 

Watford’s last game of the 1957/58 season was at Brighton. If Brighton won, they would be promoted to Division Two. Brighton’s captain offered Johnny a bung for Watford to “lie down”. Johnny took it.

The sum was reported to be £110. So, when Watford lost 6-0, each Watford player got a tenner. 

Not a lot for quite a lot of lying down. 

(There’s a link to the full facts of the story below.)

Johnny died in March 2018 at the age of 87. Because of what he’d done 60 years earlier, he had to pass through Hornet Hell before he could get into Hornet Heaven. Thankfully, he repented of his sin against Watford.

When he first arrived in Hornet Heaven, the residents found it hard to forgive his match-fixing. Someone who was distinctly unimpressed was Fred Pagnam — who was centre-forward and also manager for Watford in the 1920s. 

Fred, famously, had played in a rigged game in 1915 when he was playing for Liverpool against Manchester United. Both teams had agreed on a result (2-0 to United), but Paggie wasn’t part of the fix. He threatened to score a goal to ruin the result — and hit the bar late in the game. He later testified against his team-mates at an FA hearing.

Johnny confessed his crime to Paggie. He was genuinely remorseful. And then he set about earning the trust of everyone in Hornet Heaven.

At the start of 2021/22, he worked closely with Bill Mainwood, behind the scenes in Hornet Heaven, to develop enhanced ethical practices and establish a strict policy of equality, diversity and inclusion.

Johnny is now handsome, stylish — and a good man.

Johnny Meadows’ journey through Hornet Hell was dramatised in Series 19 Episode 2 of Hornet Heaven — ‘Lamper’s Inferno’.  You can listen to that episode here.

You can find out more about the podcast here, and you can listen to any our stories here.

The full facts of Johnny’s match-fixing are here.

Read about other ‘Deceased Players of The Month’ here.