There was a buzzing atmosphere in Watford today as football fans returned to Vicarage Road for the first time in a long time.

It may have only been a pre-season friendly, but for some Hornets, today’s game was their first in nearly 18 months.

The fixture was an opportunity for some Watford fans to see promotion-winning manager Xisco Muzoz for the first time and see the Golden Boys in action again from the stands.

However the game itself didn’t quite live up to the excitement pre-match as the Hornets played out a goalless draw against West Brom.

Watford Observer: Fans queuing into Vicarage Road stadiumFans queuing into Vicarage Road stadium

There was a sea of yellow and it was easy to see fans were excited to be back at the football. It may have only been a friendly but it was the traditional Saturday 3pm kick-off and fans told us it felt like a return to normality after so long away.

In total, nearly 4,000 fans were in attendance.

Watford Observer:

Season-ticketholder Paul Tucker went to the game with his son Andy and three grandsons, including seven-year-old Nicholas.

Paul was one of the lucky fans who attended the tiny numbers of games towards the end of last year and he clearly happy to be back.

He said: "I can’t wait, it’s just about being part of a crowd. I’ve been doing this since 1959 and it’s in your blood.

"I have no qualms about being in a crowd. I’m double jabbed. Because it’s outside, I feel much safer. Although If you looked around, you’d hardly know there was a pandemic."

Watford Observer: Seven-year-old Nicholas with his dad Andy and grandad PaulSeven-year-old Nicholas with his dad Andy and grandad Paul

One of the main questions we asked fans today is whether they would support the implementation of vaccine passports for entry to games.

According to a survey of nearly 5,000 fans by the Football Supporters’ Association, 46.9 per cent would feel "much more comfortable" or "somewhat more comfortable" if proof of a vaccination or a negative test were required for entry.

Paul said he did not agree that only vaccinated people could attend large events and that appeared to be the general consensus among fans we spoke to, particularly for football matches outside.

West Brom fan Ian Lockwood, who travelled from Suffolk for the game, said: "It’s great to be back at the football. I’m glad the government opened up. I’m here because I fear we might only have a couple of months of this."

Mr Lockwood, who is double vaccinated, said he would wear a face covering at a match if he was asked to and said it would be good if there was hand sanitiser inside the ground. Otherwise he seemed quite relaxed about being back.

Two fans who were definitely happy to be back were brother and sister Lewis and Daisy who were kitted out in their Hornets shirts for the game.

Lewis was particularly looking forward to seeing Watford’s centre-back William Troost-Ekong, who went onto play just over 70 minutes.

Watford Observer: Lewis and Daisy Lewis and Daisy

Today’s game was not only a welcome return for the fans but also for businesses too.

The Red Lion pub opposite Vicarage Road was full of punters, and cafés and restaurants were full of fans, along with takeaways.

The Watford-supporting owners of Fry Days fish and chip shop in Vicarage Road were definitely happy to have fans back.

Watford Observer:

Sadique Butt, who was wearing a retro Hornets shirt, said: “This is our livelihood and the last 18 months has been difficult. We’ve been on survival mode.

"We rely on the football because otherwise we don’t have much passing trade. People are happy to be back and it was definitely good to see people back."

Watford Observer: Sadique from Fry Days in Vicarage RoadSadique from Fry Days in Vicarage Road

The pedestrianised parade of shops and cafes in Vicarage Road was buzzing ahead of kick-off.

One of those was Taste of Levant; a brand new pizzeria specialising in sourdough pizza.

Watford Observer:

Owner Cristian Dumitru was given a taste of what’s to come on matchdays with passing trade and he and his team set up a takeaway service where pizza and drinks were on offer.

Cristian said: "It wasn’t too busy but it was happy to see people We look to provide a good service and good quality food and we look forward to welcoming new customers."