The Golden Boys
YBR! chats to Tom Brodrick and Neil Dunham about Watford Gold
Anyone familiar with The Watford Treasury will have read – and very likely enjoyed – articles by Tom Brodrick and Neil Dunham chronicling both the club’s memorabilia and history. Passionately fascinated by Watford FC’s past, both of these long-term season ticket holders are avid collectors of yellow-based treasures – in Tom’s case badges, and in Neil’s match-worn shirts. Both are recognised as experts in their field, something highlighted when they were invited to co-curate the recent 100 Years at the Vic exhibition at Watford Museum. Recently they offered to the world Watford Gold, a new and exciting website which will appeal to anyone with even the most passing of interests in this club we all follow.
So, what is Watford Gold?
Neil: It’s a new website dedicated to Hornet history and memorabilia. There are two main parts to the site; the first is article-based and provides a history of our club and insight into how it developed from a kickabout in the park to an international ‘brand’ – including much that’s never been seen before. The second part is a massive memorabilia archive, which currently includes over 700 items and growing, ranging from match-worn shirts to badges, pennants, medals and trophies.
How did it come about?
Neil: It’s really an offshoot of The Watford Treasury, and is part of that ‘group’, along with YBR! We’re both a bit obsessed with this stuff and thought it would be fun to create a resource to show off not just our, but anyone’s collections of Watford treasure.
Tom: It’s the realisation of an ambition I’ve had for years – I’ve been collecting all sorts of Watford memorabilia since I was young and cataloguing it all obsessively. I happened to get into conversation about it with Sarah Priestley from Watford Museum, who pointed me towards a Hornet history Facebook page – the predecessor to Colin’s Hornet History and Old Stuff one. That led to involvement in the genesis of The Watford Treasury. Watford Gold is a natural progression from there – a permanent online resource for the football club’s history and objects associated with it.
Who is involved?
Neil: The site was proposed and set up by Tom and me. We’ve got buy-in from many people – Sarah has been fantastic and given us access to show off the museum’s (frankly magnificent) collection, as well as guidance in presentation and design. The football club have also been brilliant, providing full support and encouragement. We’ve got links with oldwatford.com (if you haven’t seen it, please have a look), the Watford FC Archive and historicalkits.co.uk, who have provided the beautiful Herts Rangers kit illustrations in addition to access to their archive.
What can we look forward to seeing?
Neil: We’re featuring several individual collections of everything WFC, such as Nigel Gibbs’ collection, the museum’s archive and many other supporters’ stuff. We’re uploading all of the time, with a ‘latest updates’ page so you can keep track. The archive of articles covers football in Watford from the very beginning, including rare photos of Herts Rangers (1875-1883) and the earliest known photo of Watford FC (as Watford Rovers).
Tom: One thing I think makes the site unique is the marriage between articles covering the history of the club, including some fascinating discoveries and new research, and the often-rare and precious items featured, which explain and give context to that history. Readers of the Watford Treasury publications will be familiar with the aesthetic and we hope it provides an exciting resource for them and for anyone else who might become inspired by what we’re showing.
What are your favourite items?
Neil: My big passion is match-worn shirts, so they’re up there – probably the 1975 or 1969/70 originals? But I love the infrastructure stuff too, so the old Cassio Road turnstile and 1980s match-day flag are favourites.
Tom: I must admit to a bias towards badges and medals as these were the first things that got me hooked into Watford memorabilia and history. The medal won by Charlie Peacock in 1892 is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever unearthed; I also love the gold and silver fobs and enamelled badges from before WW2. However, like Neil, co-curating the Vicarage Road centenary exhibition at the museum has led to a permanent affection for surviving fixtures and fittings from the ground!
What are the most unusual items?
Neil: We haven’t featured the 1970s underpants yet, so I can’t say them. The ‘Petchey Family’ entrance sign is a bit quirky, but for sheer left-field nonsense, Jim Bonser’s leaving card takes the prize. Signed by Elton, it features a ridiculous and totally inappropriate fluffy bunny on the cover.
Tom: Good question! The football club’s official Christmas cards from the fifties and sixties are hilariously dreary and generic. Aside from that, an item from 1892 which is a sombre and sincere-looking ‘in memory’ card, but commemorates the ‘death’ of St Albans FC at Watford Rovers’ hands. Late-Victorian football banter at its finest!
Can we contribute?
Neil: Yes! We love to see other people’s collections and read their Hornet-related memories. We’ve featured a few supporters’ collections and would love to do more. There’s a ‘Contribute’ button on the site – please hit it if you’d like to join in. We’ve especially enjoyed contact from relatives of old players, dating back to the earliest times of the club.
What about that history with Luton?
Neil: Ha! Yes, that’s an interesting one. There’s a Luton Town website that includes articles about the history of the rivalry between them and us. Included is an ‘analysis’ of the official Watford history. Not only is it disparaging of Oli Phillips and Trefor Jones, but it attempts to move our founding date to 1898. It’s all tosh, of course, so we’ve featured a more factual history of Watford FC, with supporting contemporary documents to help clarify the timeline. There are a few new nuggets in there, so we think it’s well worth a read. If you ever hear the story about Luton supporters throwing stones at the Watford players after the first-ever meeting – rest easy knowing it is absolutely true (and that ‘they’ started it!)
You can find Watford Gold at