The Watford Observer has teamed up with Watford Museum and its curator Sarah Priestley to take a journey back to the town’s past through items or places of historical significance.

The 22nd item in ‘a history of Watford in 50 objects’ is a poster produced by this newspaper - "slightly scuffed around the edges and with tell tale drawing pin holes in the corners" - that is one of the most popular items in the museum's Watford Football Club gallery.

Sarah said: "The poster celebrates a painting by Terry Challis who was for many years the much loved cartoonist for the sports pages of the Watford Observer.

"In 1976 to celebrate the arrival of an ambitious new chairman, he undertook a painting the original of which he presented to Elton John.

"It’s a wonderful piece of art for any Watford fan, showing Elton astride a hornet flying to new successes for Watford, a bust of the old chairman left broken and abandoned.

"These ambitions included an improved stadium (at the time of the painting Watford still had a greyhound track) and match after match leading to top flight football, Wembley and beyond.

"These were bold ambitions for a club in Division Four, but Graham Taylor was soon recruited and within a decade everything in the picture had been achieved.

"The poster was reprinted by the Watford Observer and is available in our shop."

The late Terry Challis at work

The late Terry Challis at work

These are the words that were printed beneath the poster:

“Pop superstar Elton John is also chairman of the Hornets, better known perhaps as Watford Football Club.

"Until Elton took over the Hertfordshire, England, soccer club, they were struggling towards the bottom of the 92 football clubs who make up the Football League.

“Now everything is changing and this allegorical painting, by Terry Challis, captures the mood.

"Commissioned by the Watford Observer, it depicts Elton astride the Watford Hornet urging the Watford footballer out of the depths and pointing the way to the club’s potential.

“Beyond the ruins of past dynasties at Watford, with the aid of luck (represented by the dice), Elton lights the way of progress across a chessboard of soccer pitches, flanked by the dated present stadium to the shape of things to come.

"Elton’s dreamed-of super stadium is depicted and beyond that the heights achieved by Liverpool, England’s most successful soccer club of recent years, depicted by the Liver Bird.

"In the distance, Europe beckons with Elton’s stateside connections also represented, as success at the top of English football opens up European and world-wide possibilities.”

Watford Museum is currently closed under lockdown restrictions but you can still pay it a virtual visit at or find the museum on Facebook and Instagram @watfordmuseum