Graham Taylor had the ability to admit he was wrong and he did so by re-signing Steve Sims. The strapping centre-half had a knee problem that would not go away. Watford knew that when they signed him back in 1978 but he went on to make 152 appearances for the club before Taylor believed the knee problem was curtailing the player’s effectiveness.

Simmo went to Notts County for £50,000 where he made 85 league appearances and was a regular in the side. So Graham paid out £50,000 and brought Simmo back to Vicarage Road. The return was relatively brief for Sims was offloaded by Dave Bassett the following summer.

Yet the big centre-half was bought again by Graham when he was at Aston Villa and played a great part in the successful spell that took Villa to promotion and the runners-up spot in the league.

“I never forget your face when you opened the door and came in to find I was the new signing,” Steve told me earlier this year.

Graham had called me down to Vicarage Road and explained that he had a new signing and perhaps I wanted to interview the man, whose identity I had not been told. So I walked in and there was Simmo, sitting there with a big smile on his face.

The centre-half was Graham’s most expensive signing in the lower divisions and took time to settle into the team but by the time the Hornets made it to the second tier, Sims was settling into a superb and effective partnership with Ian Bolton.

The centre-half was great in the air, and was noted for what we described as a sand-wedge or nine-iron chip upfield to a colleague. He was also remarkable for his long throws, often calling over a ball-boy to dry his hands on the lad’s shirt before launching the ball into the goalmouth. It was a spectacular asset to have in a team.

Clearly, having signed him three times, Graham rated the player highly and, at Aston Villa, often deployed him as one of three centre-halves. Yet, as Bolton described his central defensive colleague, Simmo was a “big kid”. He was laid back, favoured loose sweaters and dressed very casually. Graham was a great believer in attitude and felt that Simmo should smarten himself up, wear the occasional jacket and look a little more businesslike.

But as Bolts remarked, what you saw was what you got with Simmo and his laid-back dress sense clearly did not stop Graham from buying him twice more.

Off-the-field attitudes were something Graham noted, as he left no stone unturned in order to get the best out of players.

I remember George Kirby, who had two disastrous seasons at Vicarage Road, was always thinking in psychological terms. He regarded Colin Franks as a player of great potential and played him in attack on occasions.

However, Franks, walking down Occupation Road, would tend to shuffle with his head down. George thought the player should lift his head up, pull his shoulders and look the world in the eye as if to say: “I am somebody.”

I never saw Colin change his gait but it did not prevent Watford selling him for a club record fee of £60,000 shortly after Kirby was axed.

George, incidentally, contended that Watford was the only club in the league where you went down to get to it from the main entrance. He thought that was a psychological no-no but going down the steps to the Main Stand, did not seem to trouble Graham or hamper his and Watford’s route to the top.

With full justification, Bolton is proud of the Christmas card from Graham and Rita, stating that “pound for pound you are my best ever signing”. While Graham inherited Luther Blissett, Ross Jenkins and Steve Sherwood, Bolton proved to be a key man in the progress up the divisions because of the accuracy of his long-range kicking. He drove the ball upfield, turning defence into attack in an instant.

With Sam Ellis losing mobility in Division Three and Bolts suffering with a reoccurring problem with his back, Graham went out and took a punt on another potential crock in Sims. So, with Sherwood, Blissett and Jenkins, Graham had five components of what was the finest Watford team ever to take the field.

Tom’s youth scheme provided two more ingredients in Nigel Callaghan and Kenny Jackett, along with the alternative centre-half Steve Terry and the scouting network set up by Bertie Mee, enabled Watford to sign youngster John Barnes.

Pat Rice, Les Taylor and Gerry Armstrong were signed when the Hornets were finding their way in the second tier while Graham turned a potential transfer mistake into an outrageous success by switching hit-and-miss winger Wilf Rostron into a left-back.

That, with the later addition of Jan Lohman, was the essential squad, whose achievements set the benchmark as Graham wanted. He would outline the challenge to his players, to set a high water mark in Watford’s history, to which all subsequent teams would aspire to match. “People in years to come, will be able to say that was the best and one hell of a team. And each of you will be part of that,” he said.

Of course there were casualties on the way. People such as John Stirk, Ray Train, Sam Ellis, Dennis Booth, Brian Pollard, Eric Steele, Malcolm Poskett, Steve Harrison, John Ward, Mick Henderson and Martin Patching were recruited and helped the cause forward only to fall by the wayside. That was also true of the players he inherited who contributed greatly to getting the show on the road in Division Four days: Roger Joslyn, Alan Garner, Trevor How, Bobby Downes, Keith Mercer, Alan Mayes, Andy Rankin, Keith Pritchett and Tony Geidmintis.

Reading each name conjures a memory.