One of the big surprises of Saturday’s F.A. Cup tie was the ease with which the record 32,419 crowd was accommodated at Vicarage Road.
This was an increase of almost 5,000 over the previous record (27,461 when Watford played Luton Town in 1936-37) but there was no overcrowding. Indeed there was enough open space, particularly at the “Rookery” end, to suggest that several thousand more people could have been accommodated.
[From the Watford Observer of February 3, 1950]
NOSTALGIA NOTE: The game mentioned above was a Fourth Round FA Cup tie against Manchester United, which Watford lost 1-0, although were unlucky to do so. The Sunday Dispatch described Watford as “a revelation” adding: “United will not have a harder tussle even if they go to Wembley” while the Sunday Times said: “The Cup favourites are not likely to forget their tie with Watford in a hurry.”
That day’s record attendance stood for a while but the current record stands with another FA Cup Fourth Round tie, also against Manchester United but 19 years later, in February 1969. The official attendance that day was 34,099.
These days, all-seated grounds have a much lower maximum capacity and the current all-seated record is 21,590 for a Division One match against Sunderland in November 1999.