Former Watford midfielder Martin Patching has passed away at the age of 65.

Born in Yorkshire and capped by England at schoolboy and youth level, Patching began his professional career with Wolverhampton Wanderers and made more than 100 appearances for the club.

In December 1979, Graham Taylor paid Wolves £100,000 to bring Patching to Vicarage Road, and he scored on his debut in a 2-1 win at Preston.

He made 15 appearances for the Hornets in that first season, but his outings for the club were severely restricted by injury.

In total he made only 33 starts in four years for Watford with a further three outings from the bench, though his penultimate game for the club was perhaps his most famous.

Patching had been restricted to just a handful of appearances as Watford made their debut in the old Division One in the 1982/83 campaign.

Indeed, he hadn’t featured in a league game since October but, on the final day, he was in the starting line-up against Liverpool at Vicarage Road, a game Watford needed to win in order to finish second.

The Reds had already wrapped up the Division One title and fielded the likes of Kenny Dalglish and Graeme Souness in their team.

However, with little more than five minute to go before half-time, Patching popped up with his moment of glory.

As Oliver Phillips wrote in the Watford Observer at the time:

‘In the 39th minute the story of the match became a fairytale with Blissett winning possession in the centre circle and threading the ball through the straight line of Liverpool defenders into the path of Patching. As the midfield man broke into a gallop and raced clear, Grobbelaar came but was beaten by a clinical, rising, curling drive, which would have been another contender for the goal of the season. There have been few goals of that quality this season.’

Luther Blissett added a second for Watford and, although Liverpool pulled one back through Craig Johnston, Watford won 2-1 and finished second – and Patching’s final game for the club at Vicarage Road was a memorable one.

His last appearance for the club was as a substitute in a 2-0 defeat at Birmingham early the following season, after which he retired from professional football and combined playing non-league for the likes of Hendon, Staines and Dunstable with jobs such as running a pub and working as builder.

More recently Patching’s excellent ability to read and assess teams and individual players saw him undertake scouting work for Watford and Nottingham Forest.

An extremely amiable man who was superb at telling stories and sharing anecdotes, Patching also contributed to the Watford matchday programme in the early 2000s with articles previewing what to expect from the opponents.

Watford club ambassador and founder of the Former Players’ Club, Luther Blissett, paid tribute to his former teammate.

“It was a sad day for so many of the Former Players Club as we heard our teammate, Martin Patching, had passed away,” he said.

“I thought I would share a story he told about our FA Cup fifth round game in February 1980 against his home club Wolves, the club he had literally only just left as a player to join us.

"Patch was given time off by the boss to go home and see Wolves play their League Cup semi-final at home to Swindon. 

“Before our game, true to form with his dedication to opposition research, Graham asked him to go over their strengths and weaknesses from the tie he had seen, he also said Patch could lead us out for our cup tie.

“We were training up at Lilleshall and Patch and I were sharing a room, he was confident we could use his inside knowledge to beat them, he actually felt the Wolves lads would have been celebrating after beating Swindon to reach Wembley and might treat us a bit lightly.

“We found out we were 8/1 to win so he put a bet on for us - it was in the days footballers could bet – and it was £10 between us.

“Patch's advice was clearly spot on as we beat them 3-0 . . . and he'd got us £40 winnings each. Trust me that was a big deal and £10 more than our win bonus.”