As Connor Wickham soared above Nathan Ake to head in the decisive goal for Crystal Palace at Wembley, an abiding feeling of deja vu consumed the Watford faithful. Since 1881, success on the pitch has been few and far between for the Hertfordshire club. Yet sometimes glory can be measured in more ways than one.
First-team players continue to command the highest of salaries – with the annual wage bill standing at £29 million, but the commercialisation of football and clubs as a brand also mean that it is rarely enough in the modern game to perform well on the pitch.
Watford Win In The Community
Watford has worked hard to promote itself and its values in the local area through its own registered charity, the Community Sports and Education (CSE) Trust. This organisation continues to run over thirty projects and engages over 158,000 young people every year, irrespective of what happens in the league. From holiday camps and performance centres, to the National Citizen Service and health and wellbeing schemes for the disadvantage, unemployed, elderly and inactive, this charity prides itself on putting the people of Watford first.
As a ‘Community Club’, Watford has stood for every great struggle in life. Whether battling against administration, mismanagement, or just abject failure, the club has epitomised the suffering we all face. However it, like so many great clubs up and down the country, never gave up, it never gave in, and always stayed our Watford Football Club.
2016 has continued to be a busy year off the field for Watford Football Club. With the establishment and development of a Community Centre and artificial grass pitch to serve all in the area; holding and engaging young carers through a conference attended by goalkeepers Heurelho Gomes and Rene Gilmartin; and even motivational talks by the latter and Troy Deeney in a local secondary school as part of a tutoring programme, all involved with the Premier League club understand their duty and responsibility to the town.
It has been a club at the heart of its community throughout its history, having been formed under a different guise under a mile from its current home, and the Football League Community Club of the Year awards in 2008 and 2010, as well as the Family Excellence Award in 2015 are testament to the hard work the club puts in off the pitch.
The work in the community extends beyond the playing staff and CSE trust in Hertfordshire. The Watford Supporters Trust work equally as hard to retain the club at the heart of the community with funding for disability services, and inclusive match-day football experiences for all. Whilst close ties are held with Watford Borough Council and local community organisations to ensure that no-one is excluded from activities in the area.
Watford’s history may not be littered with glory and success on the pitch, but off it the club has won every heart of this county. However the next few years may finally yield the success the club so richly deserves in more ways than one.