Well-known Watford FC archivist, Trefor Jones, passed away at a Northampton care-home on Saturday night after a short but losing battle with cancer. He was 77.

Trefor produced two outstanding books of scholarship: The Watford Football Club Illustrated Who’s Who, documenting every player who appeared in the club’s first team from 1881, and the even more stunning Watford Season by Season, encompassing every Watford match along with the attendances, line-ups and substitutions for more than 100 years.

Both books were subsequently transferred by Trefor and are available on his websites and form the basis for every statistical tit-bit touted by individuals, newspapers and Watford FC to this day.

They are truly amazing books highlighting Trefor’s meticulous research as he spent years, firstly tabulating results, tapping into fellow members of the Association of Football Statisticians and he then traced every player who had ever donned a Watford and/or West Herts shirt since the club’s ‘kick-around’ beginning with Henry Grover back in 1881.

Trefor also contributed significantly and crucially to my own publications: The Centenary History of Watford FC and Golden Boys– an in-depth look at Watford’s terrace heroes.

Indicative of his meticulous approach to facts, he was distinctly wary of giving sustenance to my efforts to write the history of Watford FC – purely because he disliked the concept of the club celebrating an ‘official’ centenary 10 years after the date of the real centenary. However, he signed on and provided invaluable help and encouragement to the project after I wrote a piece emphatically crediting 1881 as the real origin of the club.

I first heard of Trefor Jones when I was informed an individual was perusing old newspaper files at Watford Library on Saturday morning and talking softly into a tape-recorder back in the late 1970s.

Trefor was born in Abbots Langley in the front room of his parents’ house, during the war, in 1941, and was educated at Abbots Junior School and subsequently, after passing his 11-plus, at Hemel Hempstead Grammar School. The son of a Welsh father and an English mother, he became an apprentice engineer but for a young man who was deemed “very clever”, he found the work disagreeable.

His love of cricket and football was well-established by then and he snapped up the chance to start work for the MCC on their administrative staff, for whom he worked 29 years.

Subsequently married: Trefor and his wife celebrating the arrival of a daughter, Sarah. He was divorced in 1979 but became a devoted and ultra-enthusiastic grandfather to his now adult grandchildren Joseph and Rachel.

He moved to Twickenham and then began his statistical odyssey involving Watford FC.

His interest in the club was spawned by the sight of the likes of Frank Mitchell, Jimmy Bowie and company undertaking their training on Watford Fields in the early 1950s, near the home of his grandmother.

“I just love statistics and getting things right. It is very rewarding when it all adds up,” he told me, summarising his devotion, which later saw him submit weekly statistical facts on recent Watford matches in the Watford Observer for some 20 seasons.

The discovery of the formation. or perhaps rather more accurately the grass-roots of what would become Watford FC, typified the meticulous nature of Trefor’s research. Henry Grover wrote to the Earl of Essex seeking permission for him and his friends to play football in what subsequently became Cassiobury Park and indeed Grover, the son of a local wine merchant, had to agree not to play actual matches in the Park.

That was in 1881 and not a word appeared in print on this development until 1906 – some 25 years after Grover’s letter. Then, right at the bottom of a close-typed Watford Observer editorial, which comprised some 2000 words commenting on developments in the locality that week, appeared two unheadlined paragraphs, which noted it had been 25 years since Grover and company had started playing football in the Park and from that source, Watford FC was then established at West Herts Sports Ground. Certainly, there is no suggestion that Grover and his pals did any more than kick the ball about in 1881, although they did play a match elsewhere in early 1882.

Without Trefor’s research the 1881 date and details of Henry Grover, may not have emerged for years.

He maintained his archives for many years until new rules on publishing personal information started to handicap his ability to continue in the same vein.

“It did become increasingly hard because if they signed an obscure Latvian full-back, played him a couple of times and then released him, I still had to provide yearly updates on his subsequent career, in line with all the others. That is a real pain,” he admitted.

Trefor was a very private man and it was something of a surprise when I, along with his family, discovered he was about to marry his long-standing friend Alicia. It transpired the lady was suffering from terminal cancer and it was her final wish that they should be married. She died seven days after the ceremony.

Towards the latter end of his career, he had another element of research to follow up: gathering up second-hand war medals and touring France and Belgium to link the medals up with the graves of the fallen. He wrote a book on it: On Fame’s Eternal Camping Ground.

I was very pleased to be asked to endorse Trefor’s nomination as Supporter of the Season in 2014 and flew over from France to make a speech, which he had no idea was specifically to extoll his contributions.

After years working in the editorial department of Book Data, Trefor retired but while, naturally, since retirement, our contacts have been less frequent, we remained in touch. Aware of his terminal illness, which he had kept from me and many others, I reflected in a conversation with him three months ago that my Watford FC books owed much to his research and support. I suggested that Watford fans had many reasons to be grateful for Trefor’s meticulous investigations.

He was duly touched and he reciprocated with compliments on my own career. I think we both knew we would not talk again and for the first time our exchanges took on a truly personal hue.

I will miss him but when reflecting on the imagined pantheon of true Watford legends, I trust there is an anti-room to celebrate the contributions of such as Trefor Jones – a supporter for all seasons.