Craig Cathcart, Miguel Britos and Sebastian Prödl are going great guns at the heart of Watford’s defence and we may have to revisit the centre-half debate if they keep Watford in the Premier League, but the competition is already fierce enough without throwing them into the mix at such an early stage of their Watford careers.
Anyway, would any of them get the nod ahead of big John McClelland? He warrants his place for simply turning down a more lucrative deal to join Sir Alex Ferguson at Aberdeen and signing for Watford instead. Tony Coton apparently remarked that the former Rangers centre-half could barely walk let alone run but McClelland pointed out that was just his ungainly style. He was so good that Rangers tried to resign him three times and Graham Taylor was toying between him and Paul McGrath when looking for a centre-half at Villa.
McClelland enjoyed fine partnerships with the Steves, Sims and then Terry and they both make our shortlist. Terry recovered from losing 5-0 on his debut, as a 17-year-old at Sunderland, to be part of the team who knocked Kaiserslautern out of Europe. Terry succeeded Sims who also struggled at the start of his career after signing from Lincoln in what was a record fee for a Third Division Club. He quickly grew in stature, played in the 7-1 win over Southampton, the team who beat Tottenham in the club’s first ever game against them in the top-flight. It was rough he missed the cup final with a broken ankle.
The emergence of David Holdsworth meant the club were happy to let Terry join Sunderland. He never looked back after an injury to Mark Morris gave him his chance against Portsmouth. Went on to be captain and stood the test of time, playing under Taylor, Dave Bassett, Steve Harrison, Glenn Roeder, Colin Lee and Kenny Jackett. Sheffield United made him captain as soon as he moved there.
The exit of Holdsworth gave Robert Page his head. He made his debut at right-back but established himself as one of the most reliable defenders to ever wear the shirt, captaining the team to successive promotions, lifting the playoff trophy at Wembley and leading the side to that memorable top-flight league win at Liverpool. Moved to Sheffield United when Gianluca Vialli came in but Watford’s is still the first result he looks out for.
Ian Bolton retains a similar affinity with the club, putting down roots in the area after his 16-year playing career. He was the rock on which Watford’s rise from the fourth division to Europe was built. Taylor once described him as his best ever signing, which is some statement. He was gutted to leave Vicarage Road in the November before the FA Cup final appearance. Tells a great story about how he moved into a house owned by the club when he joined from Notts County. The rent? Five pounds a week!
There are few more remarkable stories in the club’s storied history than Jay DeMerit’s. He went from earning to £40 a week in non-league football to earning five figures in the Premier League with Watford. No wonder they made a Hollywood film about it.
We love nothing more than curveball at WD Sport so we are going to throw someone into the mix who played 28 games for the club in a largely forgettable era. Step forward Filippo Galli. He was 38 when he played for he Hornets and oozed class in everything he did. It made you wonder just how good he was in his prime and how good the centre-halves in Italy must have been if he didn’t earn an international cap.
Now it’s time to vote for your favourite. You get to vote for your first choice centre-half…
And then vote for who will partner him…
Your all-time Watford XI will be published before the game against Manchester United on Saturday.
Missed the chance to vote for your top left-back? Click HERE.