Norman Joy played only one game for Watford.

He became world-renowned in a field you wouldn’t have expected.

Norman Joy played at wing-half in Watford’s second-ever game of league football. It was his sole competitive appearance for the club – in September 1896.

At the time, Watford were known as West Herts, and had just joined Southern League Division Two. The club was finding its feet at a new level (a division below the likes of Spurs and Southampton) so they were giving a go to lots of players.

That season, Norman was one of seven players who made their debut and never played for the club again. None of them were in that season’s team photo (below).

(Norman’s brother Basil had done the same as Norman the previous season, playing a single competitive game in the FA Cup in October 1895. Norman’s other brother Bertram had also made just one appearance, in a friendly, three years earlier – in September 1893.)

Football was an amateur undertaking for Norman, because his career was in medicine. Over the years, though, he developed another hobby. He identified, collected and studied beetles. He was a ‘coleopterist’.

And this is how he made his name. In 1932 he published ‘A Practical Handbook of British Beetles’.

In 1933 he followed this up with ‘British Beetles: Their Homes and Habitats’.

His 1932 handbook remained a standard work used by scientists for decades – into the 21st century – and it established him as a world-renowned coleopterist.

He even had two species of beetles named after him. 

So the next time you see a Gyrophaena joyi or a Gyrophaena joyioides, you’ll be looking at an insect that’s named after a Watford player!

Norman Joy’s story was told in Series 14 Episode 2 of Hornet Heaven — ‘The Joys of Watford’. You can listen to that episode here.

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Find out more about the podcast here.

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