Hertfordshire Rangers dominated the Watford football scene from 1865 on and represented the area successfully in the FA Cup, playing at Upper Nascot and later on a field off Langley Road. They were a much respected team and provided the goalkeeper for the England versus Scotland match that year.
Meanwhile, as the Rangers started to fade away and eventually ceased to exist in 1882, Henry Grover formed Watford Rovers in 1881 and the club took over the mantle of the town’s former top team. The Rovers played at Vicarage Meadow in the vicinity of Watford’s current ground. In 1890 Watford Rovers became a wing of West Herts Club at Cassio Road. When West Herts and another local team, Watford St Mary’s, playing at Wiggenhall Road, were unable to survive as separate professional football clubs, West Herts absorbed their rivals in 1898, the amalgamation producing a new identity as plain Watford FC.
This milestone evoked a dazzling combination and series of club colours. A red, yellow and green hooped screamer that a Chairman of much more recent times would have been impressed by was followed rather mundanely by plain white shorts and black trousers. Black-and-white striped shirts were worn from 1914, only to be replaced by new royal blue shirts in 1927. Gold shirts and black shorts were introduced in 1959. Red was added to the strip in 1973 at the instigation of then manager Mike Keen. Incidentally, yellow and red also feature prominently in the coat of arms of Watford.
After their spell at the West Herts Sports Ground at Cassio Road, where once they demolished Crouch End Vampires (sic) with a 14-1 scoreline, the move to Vicarage Road came in 1922, after the local Benskins brewery had purchased this recreation ground and agreed to lease it to Watford. It will therefore come as no surprise that Watford became known as The Brewers. Their present nickname is The Hornets, alluding to the gold and black of 1959.
The first emblem Watford have been unofficially associated with is in fact the coat of arms of Watford Borough Council. The wavy blue and white lines are intended to represent the River Colne and its banks. The gold escallops were taken from the arms of the Earl of Clarendon, Watford’s first Mayor. The fasces or bundle of rods with an axe in the centre denote magisterial authority and the Roman station said to have been at Watford. The gold cross on blue is from the arms of St. Albans, the greater part of Watford having at one time belonged to the Abbey of St. Albans. The harts represents Hertfordshire. The motto is Audentior and means “Bolder”.
1957 saw the arrival of a blue shield, in it a hart and the initials WFC. It was never worn on shirts and eventually replaced by a simplified design, again with the club’s initials, coinciding with the introduction of the gold shirts in 1959. A hornet appears in a badge in 1968, displayed with pride by the likes of Duncan Welbourne, Stewart Scullion and Tom Walley.
Watford’s current crest came to the scene around 1977 and shows a red hart on a black and yellow shield. A hart also appears in Hertfordshire’s arms, based on those of the borough of Hertford, in turn inspired by an ancient seal, which earliest surviving documentary dates back to 731 AD. This seal bears a hart standing in water, in the background a tree and a castle with three domed towers. They formed part of the arms of the family De Clare, by whom the Earldom of Hertford was held in the twelfth century. We feel that every player who proudly wears Watford’s unique colours should know this. Don’t you?