Following my piece on Les Simmons, I have been informed there was an emotional meeting between him and Graham Taylor, shortly before Les passed away. Graham was giving a ‘breakfast talk’ at the Peace Hospice one morning and the then doyen of the hospice, Gill Crowson, took Graham through to see Les as he lay in his bed, a victim of cancer.

It was an emotional moment for both of them but Graham, who had doubts about Les when he first came to Vicarage Road because he thought the greyhound man-cum-groundsman would not embrace the new philosophy, came to admire Les for the skill of his work and the colour of his personality.

Les was engaging company but some people found they took time to get used to him, because Les was very direct and pulled no punches.

I remember Les telling me about approaching Watford’s very serious-minded director Bertie Mee. The former Arsenal manager was hailed by Graham as one of his best signings but there were those who found Mee hard to get on with.

Well I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when Mee was accosted by Les behind the main stand.

“Mr Mee sah,” said Les.

“Yes, Les. What can I do for you?”

“Well sah. How long is this farce going to go on?”

Mee pretended he did not know the particular farce Les had in mind.

“I’m talking about the farce of Dave ‘Call me Harry’ Bassett continuing to manage this club. Surely this cannot go on.”

Mee stared at the ground and then indicated to Les that Bassett’s tenure at Vicarage Road would not last much longer.

In fact Mee, along with directors Geoff Smith and Muir Stratford, were trying to contact chairman Elton to ask him to pull the plug before it was too late. As it happened, in the words of a senior official at the club, Elton “had gone to earth” and was beyond contact for a few weeks: weeks that proved to be crucial.

Later when former coach Steve Harrison returned to manage the club, Mee asked Les in passing if he was pleased with the situation. “You left it late,” said Les, hitting the nail on the head.

One of Les’s closest allies on the staff was his friend Tom Walley. The youth-team coach was also a good friend of Glenn Roeder, who got on well with Les during his stint as player, coach and later manager.

The mention of Tom Walley proves coincidental but how pleased I was to hear Tom had been officially inducted as a club legend at the Hornets’ end-of-season dinner.

Tom was a dedicated player who gave no quarter even in practice matches. I recall Ken Furphy shaking his head as he told me that one of the first-team players would not be available on the Saturday because of a training injury.

“Bloody Tom Walley: always gives 100 per cent, which is what you want but he carries that into training games as well,” said Ken.

Walley was the combative midfield man in the 1969 promotion side - a key ingredient signed from Arsenal. He left to join Leyton Orient and began to give some of his spare time to working with the youngsters there. Several youngsters came through under Tom’s tutelage but he had to leave that behind when Mike Keen signed him back to Watford.

Tom’s knees were to let him down but, when he was set to leave Watford, new manager Graham Taylor offered him the post of full-time youth coach. Tom did not jump at it immediately. Watford were a fourth division club and it was hard to see the potential Graham was talking about.

The rest is history because Tom became one of the most successful youth-team scouts in the country and most certainly the most outstanding in the club’s history. A succession of youngsters came through his youth teams and they swore by him. Years later, even those who did not make it to sustaining a place in the professional ranks, would beat a path to Tom’s door, looking up and perhaps picking the brains of their old mentor.

Can you imagine your boy being coached at Watford and coming home one night to say the youth-team coach had grabbed him by the scruff of the neck, shoved against a wall and being asked how much he truly wanted to be a professional footballer?

As Nigel Gibbs would later remark: “If Tom did not get you by the scruff of the neck and push you against a fence and shout at you, you knew it was likely you would not make it in the game. Tom did that to the ones he thought had a chance of making it. So once you knew that, it was an alarming but encouraging experience. You knew he thought you had a chance.”

The string of youth-team products who progressed into the first team was down to Tom and his scouts unearthing the products and then Tom moulding them. Kenny Jackett, Steve Terry, Nigel Callaghan, Gary Porter, Tim Sherwood, Worrell Sterling, Paul Franklin and a whole lot more carved careers in the game and in subsequent years were to be seen calling round at Tom’s Watford home. They kept in touch and would smile at the memory of Tom’s rough and ready approach and would remember answering ‘yes’ to the question as to whether they wanted a career in the game, badly enough.

Tom took successive youth squads to two FA Youth Cup Finals – Watford had never been remotely near such heights before – and Colin Lee, inheriting many of Tom’s young charges, took them to a third.

Legend is an overworked word in football, but Tom Walley justified that label.

Watford have never achieved anything like Tom’s conveyor belt of youth products or Youth Cup Final appearances.

One final anecdote: when Tom was set to leave and Graham offered him the youth-team post, Tom told him that August: “There’s a lad here who has been given a free. Don’t let him go. He will make it.”

Graham took the advice and Luther Blissett proved quite useful.