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There Used To Be…. A Scoreboard

Nick Catley on the advent of modern technology to Vicarage Road


Nostalgia’s a funny thing. Sometimes, the things that seemed in our youth to have been set in stone forever were actually surprisingly transitory. I always think of football clubs as ‘proper’ League teams or not based on whether they were one of the 92 when I started paying attention in the early 80s, even though this line-up lasted just nine years (1978-1987). Hereford and Halifax yes, Burton and Barrow no. Equally, I will always consider an automatic three-up-three-down to be the natural way of things, despite its mere 13-year lifespan. The scoreboard is pretty similar. Despite looming so large in so many of our memories, it was only there for 15 years, from 1978 to 1993. It's been gone nearly twice as long.

It wasn’t really that much practical use. Football grounds don’t need scoreboards. The clock was occasionally helpful, but not much more so than the Observer one (though I did wonder for longer than is healthy why ‘Wadham Stringer for Leyland’ was adult code for ‘minutes’). Instead, it was a central part of our visual identity, a superb piece of marketing projecting an image perfectly integrated with the club at that time. Just like the football we played, just like our yellow and red kit, just like the chairman’s clothes, just like the places we were going, it was vital and exciting. It looked like the future had landed on Vicarage Road. Indeed, for its first nine seasons at least, it had...