Hornet Heaven Deceased Player of the Month: John Joseph Gran
You may not have heard of Jack Gran. After he left Watford, he changed his name. His new name became world-famous, as Olly Wicken recounts.
John Joseph Gran was known as Jack Gran when he joined West Herts as an amateur. He made his first appearance in a friendly in November 1895.
Three years later the club changed its name to Watford FC, and Jack played at wing-half in several first-team friendlies against opponents including QPR and Crewe Alexandra.
Then Jack became a professional. He made his first competitive appearance for Watford in March 1900 against Aylesbury United and contributed to an 8-3 win.
It turned out to be his only competitive appearance. He played in a few more friendlies over the next twelve months, but then he left the club. He decided to change careers.
He became a music hall entertainer.
He also decided to change his name (perhaps inspired by West Herts changing its name to Watford FC). Jack Gran took the stage name ‘Jack Cardiff’.
As Jack Cardiff, he toured theatres and music halls as part of a variety act, with his young son in tow.
He performed in a show staged by the famous impresario Fred Karno (the renowned king of slapstick who discovered and trained Laurel and Hardy). He worked as a comedian with Charlie Chaplin.
He also appeared as an extra in silent movies. He had a small role in the 1929 movie The Informer – which is considered one of the finest British films of the era.
He died, ten years later, in 1939. He hadn’t made his name world-famous.
But someone else who worked on the 1929 movie was starting to make the name Jack Cardiff famous. One of the production runners was his son, also called Jack.
Jack Cardiff (junior) became renowned
behind the camera, first as a cinematographer, then as a director. He won an Oscar for Best Cinematography in 1947. He won a Golden Globe as Best Director for Sons and Lovers in 1960. In 2001 he was awarded an Honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement.
When Jack Cardiff (junior) died, aged 94, this true legend of cinema was still a Watford fan. All his life, he supported the team from the town where he once lived (in Sutton Road) as the son of a former player.
On 22 April 2009, after seventy years apart, father and son were reunited in Hornet Heaven.
Some Watford fans, up there in the afterlife paradise where no one ages, find it slightly confusing that the father is 64 and the son is 94, but both Jack Cardiffs are treated as celebrities.
Jack Gran/Cardiff has appeared in several of the Hornet Heaven audio stories (as an extra), often playing piano in the Supporters Club HQ or the Troy Deeney Atrium. Find out more about the podcast at HornetHeaven.com