Watford’s association with the second tier of English football is remembered for the successful seasons that have resulted in promotion to the top-flight. It is only natural to recall those highs, yet there have also been struggles at this level and in some cases a battle for the club’s very survival.

Any fans who think the Hornets are in for an easy ride as they bid to bounce back to the Premier League at the first attempt following Sunday’s relegation are likely to be in for a shock. The Championship, as it is now, is a relentless, dog-eat-dog world that is widely recognised as one of the toughest divisions to get out of in global football.

The Hornets’ efforts to escape it following the Pozzo takeover are evidence of the patience that is often required. Gianfranco Zola’s side went close in the first season, only to come up short at the final hurdle at Wembley, and it took another 18 months before a Friday night in early December at Fulham kick-started a run that was to lead to promotion being memorably secured on the south coast at Brighton & Hove Albion in 2015.

Although Watford was founded in 1881, it took until 1969 for second tier football to be secured for the first time under Ken Furphy. The club managed to keep its head above the relegation trap door for the next two seasons, but their luck ran out in 1972 when George Kirby’s side finished bottom of the table.

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Ken Furphy gives a team talk in 1969

Worse was to follow as Watford dropped down to Division Four before the start of the golden era under the late Graham Taylor.

Although the club’s greatest ever manager famously guided the Hornets from the Fourth to the First Division in five seasons, the ascent from the second tier was far from straightforward. Indeed, it is often forgotten that in Taylor’s first season in Division Two Watford finished a lowly 18th in 1979/80, improving to ninth in the following campaign before the journey to the promised land was secured as runners-up to Luton Town in 1981/82

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Watford fans in the town centre pond celebrate promotion in 1982

The heights continued to be scaled – Division One runners-up, Europe, a first FA Cup final appearance – before Taylor’s departure for Aston Villa preceded an end to the top-flight adventure in 1988 when the damage was one done under Dave Bassett’s disastrous spell in the first half of the campaign.

Having been unable to keep Watford up, Steve Harrison led an unconvincing Hornets side to fourth in the table, only for their hopes of an instant return to the top-flight to be ended by the away goals rule in the play-offs.

Division Two, which became Division One following the advent of the Premier League in 1992, was to remain Watford’s home for the next seven seasons until Taylor’s return was unable to save them from relegation in 1996.

Within two years though, the Hornets were back in the second tier as champions of Division Two but looked increasingly likely to prolong their stay by at least one more campaign, only for a memorable end-of-season to conclude in glorious fashion with a 2-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers at Wembley to seal play-off glory.

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The Hornets celebrate their Wembley triumph in 1999. Photo: Action Images

The legend had worked his magic again, but within a year Watford were to be back in Division One where they faded after making a flying start to the campaign.

Gianluca Vialli was appointed following Taylor’s decision to retire, but big spending on the squad was not matched by the performances it produced on the pitch and the problems were then exacerbated significantly by the collapse of ITV Digital.

Watford’s future looked bleak but Vialli’s successor Ray Lewington was able to keep the club in the division, despite having no money to spend and the players and staff taking a wage deferral.

The current Crystal Palace assistant manager was to remain at the helm until he was sacked in March 2005 and replaced by Aidy Boothroyd, who succeeded in keeping the Hornets in the Championship before a memorable 2005/06 campaign saw the club return to the top-flight after a 3-0 play-off victory over Leeds United in Cardiff.

As with their previous Premier League stay though, it was to last only one season, but for much of the next campaign the Hornets were on course to bounce back at the first attempt, only to ultimately just cling on to a play-off place.

Boothroyd’s tenure was to end in the 2008/09 season with the Hornets staring at a relegation battle as they headed into winter, but new boss Brendan Rodgers guided them to mid-table safety – and then left to join Reading.

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Malky Mackay and his successor Sean Dyche. Photo: Action Images

Having missed out on the job to Rodgers beforehand, Malky Mackay was appointed his successor but was soon having to sell a number of first-team players as the club increasingly became enveloped by financial and boardroom turmoil, coming within a matter of hours of going into administration.

Watford were involved in another battle against relegation, however a positive end to the season saw them finish 16th and then 14th the following campaign. By the end of 2010/11 though, Laurence Bassini had taken over the club and Mackay moved to Cardiff.

Sean Dyche had the chance to join his fellow former defender in Wales, but chose to remain at Vicarage Road when he was given his first managerial opportunity.

The relegation storm clouds had been brewing for several months as Christmas came and went in 2011 but, on the pitch at least, Watford’s prospects improved the following year and they finished 11th.

That summer led to a change of ownership and management, but it was to take another three seasons before the Hornets were able to escape from the clutches of the Championship again and embark on their next top-flight journey – and second longest in the club’s history.