Blue is the Colour
John Parslow on crossed wires and a newly discovered legacy
When was your first conscious memory of football? Mine goes back to 1970 when I was just five.
It was around the time of the Chelsea v Leeds FA Cup Final that went to a replay. I remember asking my dad who he supported as a child, and he said “The Blues of course“.
When I was 12, Dad took me to a Watford game, and by the early 1980s we were of course in the old Second Division alongside Chelsea, who were rubbish and played in front of only 14,000 or so. We had larger crowds, better players, and we were on the up. I was always thankful that my dad didn’t push his Chelsea allegiance on me, and had actually morphed into a Watford fan – he joined me at games and, at the age of 87, is a season ticket holder still.
I’d started talking to my dad more about his upbringing and past. My late mum had always been the talker of the two, and we knew everything about her history, but I was spending more time with my dad and trying to get as much of his backstory out of him as possible – on how he grew up during the War and started going to football afterwards, as he was ten when the War ended.
One recent chat brought the big question – “So how did you start supporting Chelsea?”
His response was: “Chelsea? I’ve never supported Chelsea. I’ve always been a Watford fan since I went with my brother in 1947 after the War.”
I was really confused how my 50-year-old memory had got it wrong, but I then set out on a mission to try and find out what his first ever game was, knowing that I could look it up at the excellent watfordfcarchive.co.uk.
My dad’s recollection was naturally hazy, but I learned that we played at Vicarage Road, we won, and it was a League game, but he didn’t know the score or who it was against. That narrowed it down superbly, as Watford were thankfully rubbish that year and only won six games all season in Division Three South.
It could therefore only be Bristol Rovers, Exeter, Leyton Orient, Swansea, Swindon or Walsall. So, any more clues? What colours were the opposition playing in? Dad then said, “All I remember was that they were playing in blue”.
One last check of the archives and it suddenly dawned on me. For 50 years I had thought my dad used to be a Chelsea fan because the five-year-old me had mistaken what he meant when he said he had always supported the Blues.
It wasn’t the opposition that played in blue. It was Watford. Those were their colours in 1947 and they of course were nicknamed ‘the Blues’ and that’s what Dad called them for years.
And I still don’t know who his first game was against. I just need to keep asking more questions.