Monday, 5 March 2012

WFC in 100 Objects - #17 - SS VERA

One suspects that few of the objects to make this list will date from the nineteenth century; our club might have its origins in Henry Grover’s activities of 1881 but few of his contemporaries are around now to tell the tale, less still to testify to the right to inclusion of peculiar supporters, trinkets or objects of the time.  Nonetheless one object of the era is an indisputable candidate for inclusion, and it’s a big one…
Vera in 1891 - From
WFC in 100 Objects - #17 - SS VERA

In March 1899, the channel steamship the SS Stella was on an early season crossing from Southampton to Guernsey when it hit the Casquets reef near Alderney in heavy fog and sank within ten minutes with the loss of 77 lives.  The first ship to the scene was the SS Vera, amongst whose passengers were Watford’s reserve side en route to play a series of friendly matches in Jersey.  The Watford players were commended for their contribution to the rescue effort in helping to salvage and comfort survivors from lifeboats – 67 of the 113 survivors were rescued by the Vera.

Quite why Watford’s reserve side was playing friendlies in Jersey mid-season is not clear; in any event the first team, either inspired by or oblivious to events in the channel, racked up back to back victories on the succeeding days.  Watford – having abandoned “West Herts” the previous summer – beat Chesham 4-1 in the Bucks and Contiguous Counties League at Cassio Road on the 31st and Uxbridge 4-2 in the Southern League Division 2 a day later.

The wreck of the Stella lay hidden in the depths of the Channel until located by local divers in 1973.

- Matt Rowson

Thanks to Matt for writing this post for our list. Here his regular blogging on BHaPPY and his book Watford FC On This Day: Facts and Figures of every day of the Year

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