A new book offering a unique insight into Watford FC’s history and showcasing a golden age in sports photography is due to go on sale next week.

Golden Shots and Visions of Blue has been produced by Colin Payne from the Watford Treasury.

The 144-page hardback book, printed in full colour in A5 landscape format, features dozens of photos from the 1950s and 1960s that were taken by the Watford Observer and have been painstakingly and lovingly colourised by Colin.

Watford Observer: The front cover of Golden Shots and Visions of BlueThe front cover of Golden Shots and Visions of Blue (Image: Colin Payne)

It will retail at £15 with a proportion of proceeds going to the Watford FC Trust Golden Memories project, working with local people with dementia, as well as 25 copies being donated for their use.

The book is due to go on sale from Wednesday, November 8 and will be available from the Hornets Shop or online at thewatfordtreasury.com

Golden Shots and Visions of Blue looks back on a very different football club to the one we have today, when Watford’s players sometimes had to supplement their wages with part-time jobs at a local brewery or print works.

It was also a time of transition, when a first Football League promotion was secured, the Blues became the Golden Boys, but interest in the goings on at Vicarage Road rarely stretched beyond a few miles of the ground unless an FA Cup run captured the interest of the national press.

Watford Observer: Queuing at the turnstilesQueuing at the turnstiles (Image: Colin Payne)

“Thankfully for those with a curiosity in Watford’s history the town was served during this period by the Watford Observer, which was as passionate about its home town team (as indeed it still is) as those who turned up week-in-week-out to watch its exploits,” writes Colin in the introduction to the book.

“Dedicated reporters described the events on the field, whilst the Observer’s photographers recorded the images.

“It was a golden age for sports photography, a time when a local newspaper had both the budget and inclination to dispatch a photographer to a football ground on a weekly basis.

“Photographs within the weekly newspaper were beginning to become more of a feature, presenting a more visual aspect to how the local news was reported.

“What those photographers captured was far more than action shots; they unwittingly created an archive of social history.

“The human aspect is all too plain to see within the images they took, the value of recording what occurred off the field, as well as on it, truly appreciated by editors keen to present the community they represented with an image of itself at play.”

Watford Observer: The Blues limbering up with some skippingThe Blues limbering up with some skipping (Image: Colin Payne)

A large number of the images in the book originate from glass plate negatives which were donated to, and housed within, Watford Museum’s archives.

Hours were spent holding the plates up to a light in search of football-themed images, but it was time well spent as several hundred were identified and processed.

Colin said: “The idea of colourising them was first hatched after ‘toying’ with some photos to recreate a long-lost away shirt.

“It almost immediately became clear that this offered the images a whole new dimension, that flat photographs became real people, leading real lives.

“As varying ‘hues’ and ‘saturations’ were applied to the monochrome images, an almost magical transformation took place.

“The sheer quality of the original images allowed unseen aspects to appear, freckles, hairs, bitten-down fingernails, textures almost previously invisible, and the realisation of just how bad dentistry was at the time.

“In short the photographs came to life!”

Watford Observer:

Many of those featured in the pictures in Golden Shots and Visions of Blue have died, but Colin hopes the book “helps their legacy live on.”

“However, this is really a tribute not just to those who are featured within, but also to the men who were behind those camera lenses, those men who sat out in all weathers, having the foresight to see what a wonderful picture they were taking,” he said. “For without their work this unique photographic record could not exist.”