Screen Shot 2018-06-16 at 09.10.41.png

Watford were already champions, crowned after a win at Scunthorpe earlier in the month.

This was their final match of a triumphant season and it brought their 30th league win, making it the most successful season in the club’s history.

In his first season, Graham Taylor had delivered a trophy, the Fourth Division championship, to sit alongside the Third Division title won in 1969.

The players went on a lap of honour after the game. After three seasons in the bottom division, the supporters were just relieved the team had hauled themselves up a rung.

Screen Shot 2018-06-16 at 09.10.49.png

Taylor, of course, was already looking ahead. He had told Elton John he wanted to sign three players to add to a squad he felt was already good enough to finish in the top six in Division Three.

Elton, struck by his manager’s drive and ambition, said after the match: ‘Graham is an incredible motivator. He can turn ordinary people into those with a superhuman work-rate. I am absolutely convinced he will be England’s manager one day.’

The game itself was emblematic of the rise Watford were about to enjoy. They were saying goodbye to places that had been all too familiar over the past 20 years. They would no longer have to go to Halifax, Hartlepool or Darlington on a regular basis.

And they certainly wouldn’t have to go to Southport. The two clubs were headed in very different directions. While Watford were upwardly mobile, their opponents were about to be voted out of the league.

Screen Shot 2018-06-16 at 09.19.09.png

Having finished second from bottom for a third consecutive season, the other Football League clubs cast a cross against them when they were forced to apply for re-election.

They didn’t know it at the time but this turned out to be Southport’s final Football League fixture. The referee, Ronald Crabb, was also saying farewell to the league, for he was retiring. He was determined to go out on a high, as the centre of attention.

Mr Crabb awarded three penalties. Keith Pritchett converted both of Watford’s in the opening quarter of an hour before O’Neill pulled one back, also from the spot. Blissett made it 3-1 before half-time and although Southport pulled another back, Elton’s rocket men had achieved lift off. It was to be quite a journey.

Watford Rankin, McClenaghan, Garner, Bolton, Pritchett, Booth, Bond, Downes, Pollard, Mayes, Blissett
Manager Graham Taylor
Scorers Pritchett 6 pen, 13 pen, Blissett 44
Southport scorers O’Neill 37 pen, Cooper 70
Attendance 10,089

Why was this match chosen? There was a good crowd, a party atmosphere, a lap of honour, three penalties, and it was Southport's last ever league game before getting voted out of the league.

How do I feel about this game's inclusion now? It deserves to be in the countdown but it also highlights the omission of the victory that clinched the trophy – a 1-0 win at Scunthorpe, the team Graham Taylor had watched as a boy.