Graham Taylor was a firm admirer of Ken Furphy, the only previous Watford manager to take the Hornets into the Second Division (second tier). That had been achieved on a shoestring back in 1968/69, with Ken battling the odds and financial limitations to prove himself a resourceful deployer of average talents and an insightful tactician.

“I think it is incredible Watford ever got into Division Two, let alone stayed there for three seasons,” Graham observed in 1980.

He had some knowledge of Watford back in the early 1970s when he never suspected he would be moving to Vicarage Road. On a coaching course, he roomed with Ken and learnt of his problems. The then Watford boss was having to deal with chairman Jim Bonser who clung to the belief Furph’ could make progress in Division Two by purchasing better class free transfers.

Bonser’s motivation was his determination to increase the revenue by extending the old Main Stand in 1969. Furphy’s relatively modest investment in the transfer market was not so impressive but Bonser, having funded the Main Stand, had little money with which to budget for transfer investment. Indeed when Sheffield United came in with a £25,000 offer for mercurial winger Stewart Scullion, Bonser saw this as an opportunity to finish paying for the stand and sanctioned the sale, despite the fact Scully was his wife, Pat Bonser’s favourite player. In fact when United had attempted to sign Scully before, Pat’s protests were acknowledged and they sold the promising Tony Currie instead.

Taylor was aware of all this and the fact Blackburn Rovers had come in for Ken shortly after the Scullion sale and had offered Furph’ a healthy transfer budget. The then Watford boss had travelled to Bonser’s holiday retreat in a Scarborough hotel and obtained assurances from the chairman that he would bring in monied Watford fans and appoint them fellow directors.

Graham, aware of Ken’s confusion, advised him to go and join Blackburn who wanted him, were prepared to pay him and give him the type of transfer budget he would never enjoy at Watford. Ken duly returned to Watford at the end of the course and attended the board meeting. Director Sidney Lepard, a Bonser appointee, suddenly came out with the observation at the meeting that they had no need of new directors as the club was progressing quite nicely as it was.

It was obvious Bonser had engineered this and so Ken, accepting it was the last straw, took Graham’s advice and gave Blackburn the green light.

A years later, at the end of the 1971/72 season, Watford were relegated from Division Two and many Watford fans, aware that the second tier had long been regarded as the holy grail, accepted a future knocking about the third and fourth tiers.

All that changed with Graham’s arrival but his comments about Ken Furphy’s amazing achievement were well made and founded on personal knowledge. When he was in a position as England boss, Ken became one of Graham’s most trusted scouts on the international scene.

The second tier was regarded as relatively rarefied heights as exemplified by the Watford squad when they arrived at Stamford Bridge to play a game, most of them did not know in which direction to head for the dressing rooms when disembarking from the first-team coach. It was not just the players for Ross Jenkins recalled Graham headed off in the wrong direction when he got off the coach.

“I just turned towards the dressing rooms and others followed me. Judging by Graham’s look, he was not best pleased but he was heading in the wrong direction,” Ross recalled.

In fact, an hour later, I, along with Terry Challis bumped into Graham before the game, and the manager revealed he had recalled to the first team Ross, who had recently returned from the USA where he had been loaned.

“If he does not do it now, he never will,” said Graham, who had opted for Ross in place of the suspended Luther Blissett.

It could be argued that Graham lost his way and found something much more significant that afternoon.

“I suddenly saw my old shape with Cally and Barnesy on the flanks and Ross and Gerry up front,” he said later.

He was to make one obvious alteration: when Luther was available, he replaced Gerry and so the old Jenkins-Blissett partnership was renewed. So Graham reverted back to Third Division basics with better players. Nigel Callaghan and John Barnes were better and more productive wingers than Bobby Downes and Brian Pollard: Blissett and Jenkins had matured with experience; Les Taylor and Kenny Jackett were the busiest and most committed of midfielders; Wilf Rostron was rejoicing in his new left-back spot; Ian Bolton and Steve Sims were probably the best central defensive pairing Watford ever had and Pat Rice knew the game inside out.

With Gerry Armstrong able to change the focus of the game coming on as a bustling, direct substitute and Steve Sherwood hitting his best form between the posts, everyone knew the part.

The old belief surged through the side, for even such as Jackett had been brought up on the mantras as a youth team and then reserve team player. They knew to look to the forward pass first and if it was not available to pass to the person who could then effectively hit the ball forward. Sometimes when I watch the sideways-backwards, sideways, backwards progress of the ball in Premier League matches on television, I despair, for the memory of those old Taylor sides resonates in my head.