In the summer of 1978, Watford and their fans were celebrating a dominant season in Division Four, in which they clinched the championship.

If you asked the players, their confidence was sky-high and the general dressing-room belief was very positive. They expected to repeat the formula and gain promotion to Division Two at the first attempt. They fully believed in the Taylor formula.

The fans were confident of making an impact in Division Three, but I did not get the impression they were carried away with success of the 1977-78 campaign. It is worth remembering chairman Elton John had talked in terms of making the second tier within five years and the ultimate aim of achieving top-flight status within ten seasons.

Taylor was the subject of a TV documentary, which had featured him and Alan Durban as the young, up-and-coming managers. It was during this that the famous remark was addressed to one of his players – Luther Blissett believes it was him. “You don’t get cramp at this club,” shouted the Watford boss late in a match as the cameras rolled.

Indeed physical fitness was the by-word of Taylor’s teams and later he was to observe in the top flight: “If nothing else, we have made the rest of the division fitter” by example.

When asked to name one single law-change that would have a positive effect on the game, Graham was quick to say in the programme: “Ban the back-pass to keepers.” They were to take this on board a few years later only to drop it after a decade or so. Taylor remained unrepentant.

“Banning the back-pass resulted in teams having to pass forward when under pressure. It would cut out this tedious passing around defenders: ‘Here’s the ball for you Joe” and “Thanks, I’ll give it back to you Sid or pass out to my full-back.”

Certainly the pressing game, which Watford adopted in 1977 and continued throughout Taylor’s management, would have been far more effective if teams had not been allowed to pass back to the keeper. The same is true now.

In the summer of 1978, Graham had established managerial credibility: first in the dressing room and then on the terraces. No one of a Watford persuasion doubted that something was happening at Vicarage Road. Elton had become far more serious and involved and less of a peripheral figure. His relationship with Graham had grown steadily over the first year, and his regular references to his determination to see Watford rise to the top of the Football League, reassured the sceptical that he meant business and his dalliance was not that of a “here-today-gone-tomorrow” pop star indulging briefly in a folly. That was important.

“We are going to lose more matches than we did last season. That is for certain but it important how we learn from those setbacks and take the lessons on board,” said Graham, who was still not convinced his players were full conversant with his ideals.

Graham wanted to add more flair to the mix than had been the case in the more functional approach to Division Four. But he believed flair had to come covered in sweat. There was no room for those who produced their magic and then faded from the game for a spell. Also, Graham believed the flair not only had to be produced in the opposition half and not in your own, but it also had to have an end-product.

“I don’t want people fannying about for the fun of it. There has to be a reason and there has to be end-product,” he stressed.

Players were aware of this latter point and woe betide any individual who showboated and then lost the ball.

But the manager stressed, the need was to bring more alternative to their play. “We spent a lot of time working on our two-touch play while spending the pre-season in Scotland. That in itself gives you options.

“Last season we were well organised, hard-working and effective but those qualities alone are not going to get you out of the Third Division.

“We lost our pre-season opener at Morton, where we well and truly spanked. I did not see that sort of defeat coming even though they were further advanced in their pre-season preparation. But I hoped it would work out benefitting us in the long run. It was important not to look back at that defeat and admit we did not learn from it,” said the Watford boss.

Featured in the side that Saturday afternoon was Luther who the locals seemed to take a liking to. The fact he was black, and in those days that was still relatively unusual in Scotland, may have had something to do with it and they nicknamed him Ambre Solaire. They saw his potential, his athleticism but he still had a haphazard relationship with a football. They enjoyed the gangling player’s efforts but the afternoon suggested Luther was still some way from being a real threat.

Graham noticed that and decided he needed a striker with more football awareness and intelligence. He also decided that Ross Jenkins had probably passed his threshold of effectiveness with his 18 goals in 45 appearances in Division Four. Added to that, his favourite striker, Keith Mercer, was to sustain a career-threatening injury before Christmas that season. The other member of their quartet of strikers, was Alan Mayes, an inherently gifted player but one who did not run beyond or stretch defences in the manner Taylor wanted.

He wanted to improve his striking options. It is worth remembering that, for Graham did not get everything right: just enough to come out very much on the credit side.