It is 50 years and a couple of months since I first contributed an article to the Watford Observer. I mention that because this is my penultimate article - I sign off next week.

I started on August Bank Holiday 1968 just after the start of what prove to be a momentous season for Watford FC with Ken Furphy’s men achieving the holy grail - second tier football which had eluded the Hornets, Blues, Brewers etc for the best part of 80 years. It was a dream nursed by generations of Watford supporters and one they inwardly doubted would ever be realised.

Odd to think of that now with the Hornets in the top flight and just celebrating the fact they have another England international. Who would have thought that when Watford first moved to the former gravel pit at Vicarage Road in 1922.

But Ken Furphy’s achievement in 1969 was then unique in Watford’s history. I was on the terraces when the newly-named Hornets achieved their first Football League promotion, blasting their way out of Division Four with Cliff Holton and Dennis Uphill proving to be a goal-scoring double-act whose record is unlikely to be equalled.

“I suppose that success started off the whole modern Watford story,” Cliff reflected when I last interviewed him. Indeed it did and I was on the ground floor as with the West Herts Post that March in 1960 and reported on what followed.

I made my debut covering Watford and was somewhat nervous for I knew there would be critical eyes perusing the report but Cliff helped me out, returning with his new club and hitting a hat-trick. The report wrote itself after all the rightful indignation of Watford fans when Cliff had been sold, somewhat sneakily.

Cliff was a man who could suddenly change a match, switching gears from his normal loping run and then accelerating before unleashing truly fulminating shots.

Distance is said to lend enchantment but I have not seen a ball hit harder in Watford colours and remember that was the old leather ball, which as Taffy Davies once observed: “On a rainy day it would take two men to lift it for a throw in.”

Cliff has the hardest shot and in fairness to those who can still remember, he can only take second place to Luther Blissett when it comes to achievements - inching out the darling of the 1930s, the shy stuttering Tommy Barnett who takes my vote as the nicest footballer I have ever met.

“I met him, having been aware of his goals and appearance records. It was a delight but what a modest unassuming man for a true Watford hero,” Graham Taylor said of Tommy.

I had a lunch with Graham and Tommy a few months later and it was one of those magic lunchtimes.

In covering Watford there were a number of players who I particularly enjoyed. One of them was in my early days of regularly covering Watford for the West Herts Post. It seemed such an easy ploy with the right-back perhaps some10 or 12 yards into the opposition half, looking up and then hitting a dropping cross to the far post. Watford fans would begin to murmur in anticipation as the slight figure of George Harris would speed towards it before soaring with impeccable timing and sending the ball into the net. George and Billy Jennings were the finest headers of a ball I saw for Watford.

For pure theatre you could not top the rambling, half-strolling runs of Stewart Scullion before he accelerated past his opponent. He ran GT ragged one evening as Watford put seven past Grimsby. Unlike John Barnes, who was probably the most talented player to put on a Watford shirt, Scully was not long on end product but he was pure theatre.

If you were looking for dogged determination, grit and the will to win no matter how heavily the odds were stacked against him, Duncan Welbourne was cut out of the same granite as the likes of the 1920s Frank Smith, 1930s Arthur Woodward, 1950s George Catleugh, 1960s Tom Walley, 1970s Roger Joslyn and 1990s Andy Hessenthaler and Richard Johnson. You wanted one of them in the trenches with you, along with a Tommy Mooney or a motivated Troy Deeney.

Nowadays statisticians tell how much each player ran but such technology was not to hand when the person, I rate as the busiest in the club’s history, Les Taylor, was plying his all-action trade. It would have been interesting to compare his and Hessenthaler’s stats.

Another player, who preferred to walk rather than run, was the majestic Keith Eddy. At £1,500 (just over £26,500 in today’s market), he must have been the biggest transfer bargain in the club’s history for impact.

I cannot troll through yesterday without citing his one season of ultimate accomplishment when Charlie Livesey stunned back in 1963-64. He had so much talent he would have run Barney close, but he lacked the sustainable application.

Ross Jenkins was the most honest trier but I never expected him to develop into the fulcrum of Watford’s rise up the divisions. I thought him a no hoper but by the end he was a majestic achiever.

The man who provided him with the best of service and was probably among the most accurate passers of the ball to play for Watford was Ian Bolton. Unfortunately his passes were mainly more than 30 yards so he was dubbed a long ball hoofer - one of the most ridiculous claims to be made by Fleet Street’s more blinkered or ignorant personnel.

For the record, when Luther was struggling as a midfielder around 1980, I thought he might fade as the team progressed and he was playing as if he was of a similar mind. What a transformation he made and what excitement he generated.

The best crosser? Well that is won by some distance by Nigel Callaghan. I question whether David Beckham had that infinite accuracy demonstrated by Cally.

When it comes to the best team, then that too is a simple choice - the 1982-83 Watford that finished runners-up to Liverpool in the top flight and set a benchmark.

I have tended to go back in time but fewer players caught my eyes to the same extent in the post 1990s. Mooney, obviously and I enjoyed the steady consistency of Nigel Gibbs; Micah Hyde in his more inspired moments and Neal Ardley.

Of the keepers, obviously the youthful Pat Jennings set amazing standards in his one season; Andy Rankin was special but Tony Coton had it all. As for defenders, then the trio of Steve Sims, Ian Bolton and John McClelland were at the top.