The GT Years Ranked: 12 - 1979/80
Nick Catley presents his list of GT's greatest seasons at Watford
A reasonably easy choice, this was the only Taylor year (apart from 1995/96, not included as it wasn’t a full season) which saw anything resembling a relegation battle (the writing was on the wall way too early in 1999/2000 to call it a battle). This was, however, completely understandable on the basis that after two promotions in a row, the team needed a moment to consolidate – indeed, the fans probably needed to catch their breath. Even so, 18th in the Second Division matched the club’s best-ever League position, and certainly wasn’t something to be taken for granted. As always, there were moments which would have stood out as the highlights of any other era – in this case, most notably a 3-0 defeat of Wolves at Molineux in the FA Cup 5th round. Compared to some of the epic games in the (League) cup runs in the seasons sandwiching this one, it probably only makes the second tier of Taylor-era achievements – but even so, a comfortable win at a team which finished sixth in the First Division that year – and didn’t lose another cup tie, beating Nottingham Forest in the League Cup Final – was quite an achievement.
Besides which, foundations were being laid. Most of the promotion team from the previous season were given a chance, but a number of new players were bought during the season, as Taylor assessed the needs of the next level. All played their part, but one – Wilf Rostron, signed from Sunderland as a left-winger – became a Watford legend, albeit not in the expected position. Safety was secured with a 4-0 win against Fulham in the 44th game, after which names that were to become very familiar were introduced, with Steve Terry, Kenny Jackett and Nigel Callaghan all making their debuts in the final two matches.