Travelling up to Manchester by train in the autumn of 1983, I was reflecting on the likelihood of Watford being knocked out of the UEFA Cup by Prague, after trailing 3-2 from the home tie.

It seemed likely that Watford’s debut in European competition, which had seen great victories over Kaiserslautern and Levski Spartak Sofia, would come to an end in the then Czech capital. Indeed it did, for Watford were thrashed on the ice-rink of Prague’s frozen pitch 4-0.

I do not know quite why I was prompted to observe that it seemed unlikely the season “will fizzle out in Prague. We’ll probably reach the FA Cup final or something”.

I claim no credit as a seer, but the fact was, I too had been bitten by the Graham Taylor bug. The man could do no wrong, it seemed. Two successive promotions from the depths of depression in Division Four, followed by a two-year spell, which, although including some fantastic cup results, saw Watford have the appearance of being becalmed in the old second tier (Championship as it is now).

Then the Hornets stormed to promotion, playing some great, attacking football full of verve, speed and inspired wing-play. The critics seemed obsessed with the “long-ball” aspect of Watford’s style, missing out on the fact the Hornets fielded four forwards and wrought havoc, which continued in the following campaign in the top flight.

Watford finished second to Liverpool and so qualified for the UEFA Cup.

My remark about the probability of reaching the Cup final encapsulated the belief in “our leader” Graham. In fact it was unrealistic for Graham had taken a small-town club, with a ground that sported somewhat less than 3,700 seats, to an unexpected high: a pinnacle beyond our hopes and aspirations as he achieved the realisation of the Impossible Dream. It was ridiculous to expect more.

But there was I, along with many other fans, wondering and speculating on what further peaks the Hornets would conquer. We did not know it then but, in retrospect, the bricks of reality were in place, for reaching the FA Cup final in 1984 was the glorious high to round off seven years of unequalled and spectacular progress.

“We had hit the peak. The Cup final was it and, after that, the momentum slowly died,” admitted Graham in retrospect.

He never watched the video of that Cup final defeat at the hands of Everton. He was disappointed with the performance, for the Hornets failed to replicate that never-say-die spirit that had constituted the anvil on which so much of the club’s progress had been forged.

What else was left? What could such a club as Watford achieve? Graham had been secretly ‘narked’ to discover on the final day of their debut season, in what has now been renamed the Premier League, that the Hornets had finished second.

“What can you do to top that?” he confided to me during the end-of-season celebrations.

Even on that tumultuous Wembley experience, there were undercurrents: new idol Mo’ Johnston displayed feet of clay, looking to move and rubbishing the significance of the Cup final – a portent of how little Watford would struggle to hold onto top players.

The concept of “planting” Watford in the top flight, as Taylor had stated his intent two years earlier, did not seem such a noble target after finishing runners-up, playing in Europe and then reaching the Cup final.

It was a practical and realistic, even a dream target but fans, who had been fed on excesses beyond their dreams, were to find the plateauing of the Hornets’ progress, slightly disappointing. Within a couple of years, there was evidence supporters, who had never dreamt of Watford competing with the best, were now picking their games.

Elton, whose tears at the FA Cup final, as he stood alongside his wife Renata, remain a poignant and symbolic memory, spent more time on touring and trying to stem the tide of unwarranted and in some cases libellous accusations about his personal life. Imperceptibly he began to fade from the Watford scene.

The wheels did not come off Watford following the Cup final, but there was a slow decline, a loss of momentum. Two 11th-placed seasons, a 12th and then a ninth constituted true success. There was the building of the Rous Stand (now more pertinently-named the Graham Taylor stand), some cup runs, the delight at the performances of such as Tony Coton and John McClelland, and the contributions of the returning prodigal, Luther Blissett.

They were good times but when you looked back, those three seasons enveloping promotion to the old First Division, finishing runners-up the following season and then competing in Europe before reaching the Cup final, stood as the high-water mark of a halcyon era.

Nigel Callaghan left, Les Taylor ran out of puff, John Barnes was eyeing a move to Italy and Graham perfectly judged the climate and currents of the inner sanctum at Vicarage Road, when he asked if he could apply for the Aston Villa job. The speed with which Elton acceded and director John Reid’s assurance that they would not seek compensation for his departure, proved to Graham the impetus had been lost and the Vicarage Road revolution had run its course.

The stewardship of the club faltered and, not long afterwards, Watford were down in the third tier.

So we had good cause to look back on 1984 with fondness. The build-up, the publicity, the decorations in streets, farms and manor houses, cars and lorries as Watford and the surrounding area was engulfed by an unparalleled cup fever; followed by the players in the open-topped tour bus inching around the town centre and amazing scenes of enthusiasm for what in fact were the losers, the day after the final: all happy memories that may be equalled but never surpassed.

We remember Andy Gray smashing Steve Sherwood’s arm goalwards in the final. It was a travesty that VAR would have corrected but, in reality, Watford lost the final because they failed to press home their advantage during those first 20 minutes when they had chances and Everton were rocking.

Happy days and now a new generation of Watford fans are revelling in the glare of the spotlight, anticipation and the smell of possible glory.

It is a great time to be a Watford fan. I remember in 1984, looking wistfully at those fans carrying those big yellow bananas into that seething sea of red and yellow at Wembley Stadium for what was dubbed “The Friendly Final”. I did express the thought, next time, I would be a banana carrier.

But I am older now and, while they say there is nothing quite so wondrous as the first time, I will be sitting in front of my telly in France, no longer constrained by that 45-year long aura of notional impartiality that was present in 1984.

Older fans will know football is filled with hills and valleys and, at Wembley, Watford will again climb the mountain, matching one of the pinnacles of yesteryear's achievements.

Indulging in the subjective, I will luxuriate in doing what I had been unable to do openly for all those years, kick every ball and, would you believe, shout. The dogs will head for the other room with a look of concern etched on their faces as I treat myself to the extravagances of fandom.

C’mon You 'Orns.