While it could be said that Sir Elton John could afford to lose money once again with regard to his investments in Watford, the loss of an estimated £2 million for Haig Oundjian was sufficient to prompt him to resist the round-robin for funds in the boardroom.

“I lost a packet,” Oundjian admitted and so declined to chip in £1m, which was the starting figure set by chairman Graham Simpson as he looked to the directors.

Oundjian had become a member of the Football League Review panel, which was looking into the ITV Digital disaster and attempting to set up guidelines to ensure such crass business naivety would not be repeated.

Brian Anderson, who was contemplating moving abroad, declined the £1m levy but agreed to participate in the new rights issue.

Anderson had become somewhat elusive and understandably so, for he had taken the bouquets for his successful negotiations to bring Luca Vialli to the club and had been the Italian’s main conduit to the directors. But he took the resultant fiasco very personally.

It had been established and accepted that the directors might have to chip in more individually to bolster Vialli’s drive for the Premier League but they finished up having to pay in far more than expected as the entire gamble unwound.

Elton John was privy to the idea of the divi during the 2001/02 season but then resigned from the board before the directors set up the round-robin.

Ironically Simpson made a stout defence of the rock star at the time but one of the stumbling blocks, it transpired, was that Elton John had little time for Simpson in particular and was not enamoured of the board in general.

His one point of contact with the club was Ray Lewington, who he phoned on an almost weekly basis.

“There is no doubt he had and I suspect still has a genuine love for the club,” said Lewington recently.

“You meet some showbusiness people and their interest is relatively shallow, but Elton genuinely cared. He knew a lot about the terrain and was genuinely into it. He also knew his stuff and I was impressed with his general football knowledge.”

After Elton phoned Ray, he asked if the manager minded if he called regularly. Lewington was only too happy to receive the calls but was miffed when Simpson, upon hearing of the contact, encouraged the manager to exaggerate the woes at Watford.

“I didn’t want to be used. I didn’t want to risk cutting off the connection by advancing the chairman’s viewpoint. I just treated Elton as a knowledgeable fan and was very happy to talk to him on a regular basis.

“I didn’t push any buttons, just dealt with him honestly and I can vouch that he was totally into Watford. He genuinely cared about the club,” Lewington told me.

Another person who most certainly cared for Watford was Nigel Gibbs who donated £2,500, raised from his Testimonial Fund dinner, to the Supporters’ Trust.

Gibbs, along with Lewington and the staff had quickly agreed to a 12 per cent suspension of their wages – a gesture that was followed up by the players – so Nigel’s generosity was particularly praiseworthy.

It also brought into greater focus the shoddy way in which Gibbs was to be treated a couple of years down the line.

On the field, Watford’s fortunes improved and by mid-September 2002, scored their first away goal, courtesy of Neil Cox at Nottingham Forest, who had two players sent off late in the game. Watford then led at Preston and had they held on to victory, they would have found themselves in fourth place.

“The league position is irrelevant at the moment. We need to get our performances right. Being efficient won’t win you matches but it will go a long way,” Lewington observed.

The manager had produced a fair team, considering the distinctly unbalanced nature of his squad and the inability through transfers or loans to do anything about it.

The degree of unbalance was pointed out by a fan for, with Alec Chamberlain in goal, Watford were in a position to field an entire outfield team of midfielders. A back-four of Ardley, Mahon, Johnson and Glass would support a midfield and attack comprising Fisken, Hand, Vernazza, Hughes, Hyde and Nielsen.

Many Watford fans spent a depressing and frustrating six hours in jams on M1 and returned home without seeing the Hornets chalk up their first victory on their travels with that 1-0 success at Forest. The jam was caused by a would-be suicide jumper near junction 21.

The supporters’ coach left the ground at 10.45am and returned after the fans had a meal, at 10.30pm.

Some fans made it to the game by half-time and a group stood at the vomitory, before taking their seats, just before the interval to watch the free-kick from which Cox scored the only goal of the afternoon. Another regular arrived in time to witness the last two minutes.

Watford, despite being cash-strapped, reacted admirably, with help from Forest, by offering a full refund to those who presented their match ticket. Watford also screened a 90-minute video of the game at the club lounge, free of charge, during the following week.

The Hornets chalked up a six-game unbeaten run, recording four victories and two draws to take them near the play-off positions, a remarkable achievement for what was a notably unbalanced squad.

“We do not play great football on occasions but even when things are not going well, you can see the spirit in the side and the home support has been the noisiest I have known it,” said the manager.