It is human nature, I suppose, for mourners to discuss everything but the personal distress experienced at the passing of the man or woman that prompts their attendance. I emerged from St Mary’s Church deep in thought and was promptly ambushed by a microphone and Three Counties Radio. I just spouted my relief that Graham had been acknowledged nationally, not just locally, as a significant football figure.

The turn-out by the fans was simply amazing, and Ross Jenkins and I talked to some of them before heading back to Vicarage Road, catching up with Nigel Callaghan and discussing with him whether he reckoned he could cross a ball as well as David Beckham.

“It is amazing to be spoken of in the same breath. I am a great admirer of Beckham. I like to think my crossing was my strength,” he said modestly, but I always felt Cally was under-rated for that skill.

I reflected on various items of gossip, such as Tommy Smith now having a small chain of estate agents. Then there was David Pleat who saw me and smiled about the old Watford-Luton matches. I remembered being invited by Graham up to a St George’s Day lunch, sitting with him and Lawrie McMenemy, during their England days. At one stage I waited for them to finish a conversation and David Pleat came up to me and asked: “How is Graham and all this criticism? Is he taking it well?” he asked, plainly concerned.

I had been impressed by the concern of an old rival all those years ago but at the wake, he also prompted some contemplation when he said: “If I was a manager today, I would mix it up. Hit a few longer passes. It is getting bogged down.” The game is turning full circle.

Later, back at Vicarage Road, mourners commuted between the two reception rooms, which, large as they were, could not each cope with 450 attendees.

Sir Alex Ferguson had texted Tony Coton apologising for having to dash off back to Manchester and the match but it was very much old home week: so many familiar faces and sometimes the groups threw up conundrums such as what did Dennis Booth, Tony Coton and Tommy Mooney - representing three different, non-overlapping GT eras - have in common? The answer I worked out, as I watched them talking enthusiastically, was working subsequently for Aston Villa.

Graham Simpson, Haig Oundjian, Muff Winwood (who is still a regular attendee at matches), Aidy Boothroyd, Muir Stratford, Sean Dyche and numerous others were there. I also noted the attendance of erstwhile striker Jason Lee, once famed for a pineapple hairstyle, now bald-headed. Lee, after assuring Graham he would move into the area back in 1997, remained in Nottingham and his wife appeared in a documentary appearing to ridicule “Graham Turner” for trying to get them to live near Watford.

Later, it was explained, he was representing the PFA, not attempting personal penance.

“The fact Sir Alex and so many managers and officials in the game attended just shows the great respect Graham had in the game,” said Steve Harrison, who played and coached under Graham, clearly amazed at the “magnificent reception”.

It did not take long for Steve, as funny as ever, to relate an anecdote about trainer/physio Pat Molloy in his days of failing eyesight, when they would josh him from the bench in exaggeration: “A yellow one’s gone down. It’s one of ours. Off you go, Pat. Left a bit. Keep going and you’ll come across him.”

“Pat was given a new super spray,” related Steve. “Pat was unsure, preferring the old tried and trusted sponge but he took it out one time, when Roger Joslyn was felled with a blow to the knee. Pat reaches in for the canister, points towards the knee and gives it a press. The jet flies out and hits Roger right in the eye. Roger jumps up cursing and wiping his eye.”

Pat, according to legend, looked at the new canister with great respect for it having such a speedy recuperative impact.

Football is full of such stories, including the need to watch out for Graham when they did the cross-country runs in pre-season, for the Watford boss was known to hide in trees, to check they were fulfilling their circuits.

Gerry Armstrong was there with his wife, flying in from Spain for the funeral of a man he “truly respected”.

“I have a picture of Graham outside my house when he visited,” he said, showing me a photo of them with their arms round each other in happier days. “He played the sort of football I really enjoyed.”

Gerry’s stint at Watford coincided with promotion and the finish in second place. It also gave him first-team football and the sharpness to star for Northern Ireland in the World Cup, which was his stepping-stone to a transfer to Real Mallorca.

“Yes Graham let me go and then later, when George Best phoned me and asked me to take part in a TV programme I turned up and they filmed the programme. Afterwards, in conversation with the interviewer, he established I lived and played in Spain and spoke Spanish. He was heading for Sky Sports and they were looking for an ex-professional who knew something about the Spanish League. A little thing like that opened the door for me,” said Gerry, who is on Sky every week.

By contrast Keith Mercer, the striker who Graham admired as he “goes in horizontal”, showed us a horrible sight: the state of his knee, first injured playing for Watford back in 1978. He has had more transplants and operations than most couples have knees. It was barely recognisable as a joint.

The last to leave that evening as 9pm approached were Rita Taylor and her immediate family and perhaps significantly, Sam and Helen Ellis, John and Ali Ward along with Dennis and Stephanie Booth. They had started the football journey with Graham at Lincoln, so it seemed fitting they were there at the end.

I had almost forgotten how funny Dennis Booth was and is, and how brilliantly he can mimic Graham, complete with arm movements, and Brian Clough. Certainly Rita and her girls enjoyed his imitation.

Wardy related an anecdote from back in the Lincoln days when Graham laid out some tiddlywinks on a Subbuteo board, demonstrating a formation, before taking the players out on the adjacent practice pitch. They returned soon afterwards as the players seemed unable to absorb the instructions Taylor was giving.

Frustrated, Graham brought his fist down on the board, knocking some of the tiddlywinks to the floor in the process and furiously informed the players they would be back working on the formation at 10am the next morning.

They duly crowded round the next day and Graham reached for his canister, opened it up and poured the tiddlywinks out on the board before reeling back and asking: “What’s happened?”

Several of the tiddlywinks had strips of Elastoplast on them. Graham looked at them bemused.

“You see boss, some of them were injured last night when you knocked them on the floor,” said Boothy, who cut up the strips and stuck them on.

“Graham did not know whether to laugh or lose it,” said his close friend John Ward.

A few minutes later Rita Taylor came over and said goodbye, talked of the anecdotes and then asked: “What about the tiddlywinks story?”

“We’ve just heard that one,” said Sam as Rita giggled.

“Have you still got them in the canister?” Dennis Booth was asked. Indeed he had kept them and they remain a relic from happier days.

We all left soon after that; each with our personal canister of memories.