Beds, Herts & Bucks

Watford fans bid to recreate 1984 'buzz' for FA Cup Final

Watford
Image caption Shops in Watford are doing special window displays

As Watford FC prepare for their first appearance in the FA Cup Final for 35 years, fans are trying to emulate the atmosphere of 1984 in the town.

Volunteers from fan group, the 1881 Movement, have put a kilometre of bunting in the High Street and a flag on the town hall ahead of the game against Manchester City on 19 May.

Their efforts have inspired further displays in shops and businesses.

"It's about trying to recreate that feeling of 1984," its founder said.

Roy Moore, who set up the 1881 Movement in 2013, with the aim to improve the atmosphere at the club's Vicarage Road ground, added: "It's about galvanising people to come together."

Image caption Watford General Hospital allowed the BBC to paint a mural on the side of its administrative block on Vicarage Road

Watford FC last played in an FA Cup Final in 1984 when they lost 2-0 to Everton.

Mr Moore, aged eight at the time, said he "still remembers walking through town and seeing all the displays and flags in shops".

"Looking at the town a couple of weeks ago I thought - 'It can't be like this,'" he said.

"So I contacted the mayor and said that as we have such a large collection of flags and banners we should give a bit to the town."

Image copyright Simon Jacobs
Image caption A kilometre of bunting criss-crosses Watford High Street
Image caption The 1881 Movement said the large flag on Watford town hall is in memory of all fans who have died
Image copyright West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust
Image caption Bunting has also been donated to the children's ward at Watford General Hospital

Mr Moore said that as his group made their way down the High Street giving out flags to businesses, many asked if they could help.

"Watford as a town doesn't often get the chance to come together as a unit and people are now taking that on," he said.

Watford General Hospital has also joined in, allowing the BBC to to paint a mural on the side of its administrative block on Vicarage Road. Nurses, patients and parents on the children's Starfish Ward have put up decorations.

'Massive achievement'

Elected Liberal Democrat mayor, Peter Taylor, praised the fans for "putting on a fantastic display across the town".

He has also unveiled plans for a big screen in Cassiobury Park which will broadcast free to those unable to get tickets to the match at Wembley Stadium.

There will also be a screen at the outdoor Atrium in the Intu shopping centre.

"Reaching the FA Cup Final is a massive achievement for our town," Mr Taylor said.

"There's a real buzz, a lot of excitement and anticipation. There's no illusion that it will be a tough match, but there's a quiet optimism."

Image copyright Simon Jacobs
Image caption Mayor Peter Taylor (fifth from left) has thanked 1881 Movement volunteers including Roy Moore (fourth from the right) for "putting on a fantastic display across the town"

The 1881 Movement

  • Set up by Roy Moore a couple of days after the Watford v Crystal Palace play-off final in 2013 (which Palace won 1-0)
  • The aim was to create a better atmosphere at Vicarage Road because Mr Moore thought "the Crystal Palace fans won it for them"
  • The club blocked off 500 seats for the group which has now risen to about 2,500
  • Fans come together to create flags and banners and work on songs and chants
Image caption Graham Taylor's 1984 team features heavily in fans thoughts
Image copyright Simon Jacobs
Image caption Former Watford player, Luther Blissett, (pictured left with mayor Peter Taylor) said he remembers "how amazing it felt to see the whole town come together to support us" in 1984
Image caption Mayor Peter Taylor said he expects pubs, restaurants and shops to be "packed" in the build-up to the game
Image caption The mayor said the game will be "good for local business"
Image copyright Simon Jacobs

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