The debate of what colour shorts Watford FC should wear is oft made. Particularly these days when the club roll out a new kit every season. Personally, I fall on the black shorts side of the fence. I think they look better with the yellow shirts and last season’s kit was my favourite in a long time. They were also the colour shorts we wore for the first twenty years after changing from blue shirts to yellow, so older fans may argue they are Watford tradition. But for those who grew up with Elton John’s Taylor Made Army in the Eighties, tight red shorts were a staple of our heroes’ Saturday afternoon dress.
I’ve already done the red shorts vs black shorts thing. But just a final note on that, beautifully summed up by @DrBillyO – “Black is the fashion option. Red is the Watford option.”
As a young lad of primary school age, just getting the shirt wasn’t an option. I was the proud owner of a full Watford FC kit. The one worn between 1979-80, my first season as a fan, and 1981-82, when the dream of promotion to the top flight was realised. And for those fans of recent vintage, yes we really did keep the same kit for three successive seasons! I think my mum has a few photos in her collection somewhere. But I don’t need to dig them out to either a. put them on here for you to laugh at; or b. remember that they didn’t flap around my knees like some 50’s wing wizard or 90’s beach bum. No, this was the eighties and all footballers were wearing it tight & short!
As an innocent child it didn’t bother me that the apparel left little to the imagination. This was before the days of cycling shorts too. So if that leather ball caught Steve Simms on his inner thigh on a cold and wet Tuesday evening at Notts County, it was going to sting.
The mid Eighties saw the introduction of the pin-stripe to football kits. I used to like other clubs kits with this subtle touch of style added. Wolves, Norwich and Liverpool away all looked quite smart. Funny how it’s the yellow ones that stick in the memory. So I was a little disappointed we never went for this option. But at the start of the 83-84 season, they did replace the thick yellow and black piping down the side of the shorts with a much more chic trim of identical colour.
I really liked those shorts, but unfortunately never got to own a pair. Even more unfortunately, they were worn for the last time in the 87-88 season. Coincidentally, the season that saw the Hornets relegated from the First Division. The 88-89 season saw us kick off in black shorts. By the time red shorts returned in 1991 for the centenary season (that wasn’t really), fashions had changed and shorts were longer. From The Rookery End blames Spurs for those shorts they wore around the time of the cup final that can only be remembered for Gazza buggering his knee up and Des Walker scoring an own goal. They had that extra white piping round the bottom that made them look longer. And as the man on the street appeared to like them, so the kit manufacturers started making them as required.
Big and baggy was in. The Eighties had become the Nineties. And Watford went from First Division force to Second Tier strugglers. Tight Red Shorts quickly became a distant memory.