RIP John Drew

Tragically, some years ago, a Watford FC fan went to a game and never came home. 

Unusually, after his death, he was immortalised as a collectable painted figurine.

This is the true story of John Drew and how he got to Hornet Heaven — the afterlife paradise for Watford fans.

John Drew was the first-ever AA patrolman — back in 1906 when they wore uniforms, rode around on bicycles and saluted passing motorists. 

Here he is, below, in action. He rose through the ranks to become a superintendent.

He lived in Watford (just off the St Albans Road, on Maude Crescent) and enjoyed going to Vicarage Road to support the Blues, as they were then known.

His final trip there was on Saturday 8th February 1936.

On a cold, sunny afternoon, John and his brother Joseph made their way to the Vic. 

Watford were in form. The previous week they’d won 6-1, away at Swindon.

Under Neil McBain, they were 8th in the Third Division (South) and rising.

Watford players had scored hat-tricks on each of the last two Saturdays — former Manchester United forward Frank McPherson, and centre-forward Len Fletcher.

John Drew and his brother would have been hoping to see someone score another.

Today’s opponents, though, were table-toppers Coventry City — who’d also won 6-1 in their previous match.

And Coventry had their all-time top scorer Clarrie Bourton in their line-up.

It was a mouth-watering clash.

A much larger than average crowd gathered to watch the match from the banking, terraces and wooden stands of Vicarage Road: 11,679.

Unfortunately, one of them didn’t leave the ground alive.

From the start, the match was hugely exciting for Watford fans.

Not least because Watford were 3-0 up after 29 minutes.

And, a minute later, a Watford player had a third hat-trick in 3 consecutive Saturdays.

The excitement was too much for John Drew. 

John’s brother reported: “Just after the 4th Watford goal had been scored [Devan’s 3rd], I looked round to congratulate my brother on the display of the Watford team, and saw his head was bent forward…

“…He had been cheering. It was a very exciting game.”

A doctor was called. John Drew was dead.

A post-mortem revealed a brain haemorrhage.

A doctor stated that a ruptured blood vessel was caused by the excitement of the match.

John Drew was buried in North Watford cemetery on 12th February 1936.

He went to a Watford game and never came home.

“Killed by excitement”, as another newspaper headline put it.

But what a way to go — as Watford went 4-0 up in half an hour.

And this time it was at Vicarage Road. There’s no better place.

Today, not many people know the story of how John Drew passed into Hornet Heaven.

But somewhere, on someone’s mantelpiece down on earth, he will always be remembered.

Thanks for reading.

If you enjoy learning about Watford FC’s history, and its former players and fans, you might enjoy our Hornet Heaven stories. Find out more here.

You might also enjoy The Watford Treasury magazine, available here.