Monday, 25 August 2014

WFC in 100 Objects #53 - Lost Floodlight Fuse

A cracking object nominated by David Range:

On Tuesday night in April 1959, Watford were in a dire position towards the end of the season and played a ‘must win’ game at Vicarage Road against Shrewsbury. Into the second half the Hornets were 5-2 down and when the referee signalled for the floodlights to be switched on nothing happened. With the light rapidly fading, as was our chances of staying up, the ref had no alternative but to abandon the game. 

It transpired that someone had ‘borrowed’ the fuses. An inside conspiracy? who knows? It didn’t matter though Watford lost the re-arranged game 4-1 and were duly relegated. I was there and remember some fans lighting fires on the terraces.

1 comment:

  1. This report is not totally accurate.

    The match in question was the last match of the 1958-59 season on Tuesday April 28th 1959, which was the first of the new Division 4. In the summer of 1958 the Football League had voted on a move to create a new 4th Division. This was created by moving the bottom 12 from each of the old 3rd Division North & South into a new national 4th Division.

    At that time there was no relegation from the 4th Division or in fact the old Division 3 North or South leagues. The new format for the new 4th Division was that the bottom 4 had to apply for re-election to the Football League at the AGM. Mostly, the old pals act came into being, and the 4 clubs were predictably in those days re-elected at the Football League AGM.

    Watford were 14th going into the last game of the season at home to Shrewsbury who needed 2 points to win promotion. (2 points for a win in those days)

    The game was abandoned in the 2nd half due to floodlight failure when Shrewsbury were 5-2 up, and heading for a Promotion spot in the top 4 of the new 4th Division.

    Yes the game was abandoned due to floodlight failure and the stories were at the time that a floodlight fuse had been taken out, thus causing the appropriate abandonment. To my knowledge the crime was never resolved even though the police were called in.

    Watford actually offered the points to Shrewsbury as the result of the game would not have affected Watford's position in the League to a great extent, but the Football League declined that offer, and the game had to be replayed.

    In the 2nd game on Thursday May 7th 1959, the game was replayed at the Vic, and the Watford crowd cheered Shrewsbury to a 4-1 win. I know because my Dad had been there and there was an overwhelming feeling of injustice for Shrewsbury. We believe that Watford played a very average game....

    Watford finished 15th, and nowhere near a bottom 4 place.

    This was Cliff Holton's first season at Watford under Neil McBain when he had been bought from Arsenal. He played wing half (as they called it in those days). During the summer of 1959 Neil McBain was sacked and Ron Burgess was appointed as Manager. Cliff Holton moved to Centre Forward and scored 48 goals to take Watford into 4th position, and promotion to the 3rd Division.

    An interesting but true tale. I think to this day there has always been a great respect between the 2 clubs, and even during the 1978-79 season under Graham Taylor when the clubs were fighting it out for the 3rd Division Championship there was always that friendliness and respect between each set of Directors. Of course both got promotion to the old 2nd Division, which was ironic given the games at the end of the 1958-59 season.