Watford Football Club is founded on an injustice.
It’s time to reclaim our true heritage.
In 1898, there were two professional football clubs in Watford. Watford St Mary’s and West Herts.
West Herts were already in the Southern League. And they were ambitious. They wanted to get rid of their local rivals.
The team from Cassio Road were known as the toffs, or the nobs, because the Earl of Essex gave them a lease on his land and helped them build a swanky new stadium. And the Earl of Clarendon chaired their committee meetings.
Watford St Mary’s were the working class team – the everyman’s team. They played at a ground called ‘The Bog’. One of the ends was called the ‘Sewer End’.
The Earls of Essex and Clarendon and their cronies saw the chance to take what they wanted from Watford St Mary’s: the best players and the paying customers.
So they connived with members of the Watford St Mary’s committee and got the working class team to disband.
They renamed West Herts as ‘Watford Football Club’ in May 1898, 125 years ago this month, and carried on in the Southern League under the new name.
The posh nobs invited a couple of former St Mary’s players onto the committee of Watford Football Club, but only into junior positions.
Then they waged a media campaign to persuade fans that what was happening was an “amalgamation”.
It was easy to control the press because the local newspaper, the Watford Observer, was owned by a man who’d played for West Herts from the very start – Charlie Peacock.
The public bought the story of a merger or “amalgamation” even though the renamed club played West Herts’ fixtures at West Hert’s ground on Cassio Road, with only a couple of St Mary’s players in the team. Organisationally, it was still West Herts – just re-branded.
So the nobs got their way. They ended up with a strengthened side, and more fans.
What we lost
Watford St Mary’s was a team of local players that drew large crowds to ‘The Bog’. (As many as 2,500 were packed in behind the ropes around the pitch, and at the ‘Sewer End.’)
The Saints had loyal players such as Bangy Harrison who stayed with them for more than a decade.
But then, in May 1898, Watford St Mary’s were gone. They’d been swallowed up by a club with rich and influential backers who didn’t care what St Mary’s meant to people.
It’s time for the wrongs of the past to be put right.
It’s time for Watford St Mary’s to be recognised fully as part of Watford FC history.
Action you can take
Please find out more about Watford St Mary’s at the Watford Gold website here.
Please listen to Hornet Heaven Series 20 about the so-called “amalgamation” here.
Please do your bit on social media to express your support for the team we lost 125 years ago this month – the Watford everyman’s team.
Be a ‘Sewer End Ultra’ and make some noise for the Boys From The Bog.