Forty years have passed and some of the memories may still be painful but Kenny Jackett is philosophical about the outcome of the 1984 FA Cup Final.

“They had they edge on the day,” the Watford legend reflected when he looked back to May 19, 1984 when the Hornets were beaten 2-0 by Everton in their first appearance in football’s showpiece occasion at Wembley Stadium.

“Everton were a top side,” the 62-year-old former midfielder, who made 428 appearances for the club, said. “We’d had really good games against them, we’d always sort of gone for it but, generally though, I thought they always just edged us.

“We beat them 2-0 when we first got into the First Division but I knew a couple of their lads really well, Kevin Ratcliffe and Neville Southall etc, and they said they know you’re going for it and you’ve got good forwards but we always fancy ourselves to score one more than you.

“In terms of the game I think they had a bit more experience. We couldn’t get Barnes and Callaghan into the game enough which was a massive part of our game, and fair play to them for not allowing us to do that either.”

Watford Observer: The midfielder came through the ranks at Watford and became a club legendThe midfielder came through the ranks at Watford and became a club legend (Image: Watford Observer)

Howard Kendall’s side were already leading 1-0 through Graeme Sharp’s goal in the 37th minute when the game’s most controversial, and talked about moment, happened six minutes into the second half.

Steve Sherwood was stretching when he went to deal with a Trevor Steven's cross and was hit by the challenging Andy Gray, causing the Hornets goalkeeper to lose his grip on the ball which dropped over the line.

Referee John Hunting allowed the crucial second goal to stand but Jackett still believes Everton were the better side on the day.

He said: “While the second goal was a foul definitely I still think they had an edge and we couldn’t get our normal game and rhythm going.

“We’d had several games against them where win, lose or draw we created a lot of chances, we scored a lot of goals, it was a big strength of ours. It was a team geared to attack but we didn’t get our game going and they denied us that.

“The second goal was a tough one to take but as much as it hurt they had the edge on the day.”

Watford Observer: Kenny Jackett looks out across Wembley as he waits to receive his runners-up medal

The Watford-born one-club man who would go on to coach and manage the team he had watched as a boy, Jackett had played in every round during the cup run but missed the semi-final victory over Plymouth Argyle with a knee injury.

“I was so pleased we got through,” he said with a hint of relief in his voice even 40 years later. “It’s frustrating when you can’t influence it but I was just so pleased.

“It was a tense game but I was so delighted we got through and then I thought I’ve got a chance of playing in the final because they don’t come around so often.

“I think for the FA Cup as well, it was maybe slightly bigger then than it is now. I know it’s still big but it was almost above the league during that period and before, so for us to get there with the journey that we’d had, it was a reflection of how far the club had come from the lower divisions.

“Every season had been something new, something higher and something more and there’s no further you can get than getting to Wembley in the cup final.”

That semi-final took place on April 14, a month and five days – and seven league games – before the cup final was to be played.

Watford Observer: The flare up that led to Wilf Rostron missing the cup finalThe flare up that led to Wilf Rostron missing the cup final (Image: Watford Observer)

That’s a lot of time, and a lot of football, for things to change – and in the fourth of those games the Hornets, and one player in particular, suffered the cruellest of blows.

A 2-1 victory at Luton Town would normally be cause for widespread celebration but in the 40th minute Wilf Rostron was on the receiving end of a tackle from Paul Elliott. A tangle of legs and pushing and shoving ensued but most observers expected the players to escape with a talking to from Roger Milford. The referee had other ideas though and sent both off. Watford’s captain was suspended for the cup final.

“I can remember Graham absolutely going for the ref after which wasn’t really like him,” Jackett remembered.

“Wilf missing out was a big one for us, I really felt for him because he was a massive part of the team and a really good player. It was a difficult situation for him to take as well because it was a controversial sending off.”

As well as being without their captain, Jackett also felt the amount of time before the final didn’t help Watford.

“It was too long really if I’m truthful,” he said. “Maybe if you’re in the groove of those big games, maybe you take it in your stride a little bit but it was long.

“You probably over-think it, you’re anxious for the game to come and while it’s exciting there was a long build-up and it was tough to take really.”

It may have been a long wait, but the former Millwall, Wolves and Portsmouth manager admitted it was still a special feeling to wake up as a player on cup final morning.

“It’s amazing, the whole build-up, the coach journey to Wembley although I think we were only staying local,” he said. “Seeing the supporters was the best part. How much it meant to people to be able to go because there was excitement in the town for a month, let alone a week, let alone a day.”

Watford Observer: The amazing scenes in Charter Place the day after the Wembley finalThe amazing scenes in Charter Place the day after the Wembley final (Image: Watford Observer)

Although the day ended in disappointment, reaching the final is widely perceived as the pinnacle of that golden era in the club’s history when Graham Taylor led the Hornets from the Fourth Division to runners-up spot in Division One, into Europe and to Wembley.

Jackett doesn’t disagree with that assessment that reaching the cup final was the peak but views the achievements of which he was a key part in a broader sense.

“There’s a lot of clubs that can have a cup run but we were successful over a number of seasons,” he said. “I think that’s a big achievement by any club when you do that. That type of consistency is hard to get.

“We had that during that period, consistent top-half finishes in Division One, similar to what’s happened recently when Watford have spent six years in the Premier League and got to the cup final.

“The first one round when we were playing it [the cup final] was and did feel like the pinnacle of it, but in terms of achievement I’d say the whole period of promotions, finishing second to Liverpool the year before, the cup final and the European run – there’s quite a lot in there over a long period of time.

“It shows you the people at the top, and the manager in particular…the manager was good. He was very, very good.

“As much as Elton John’s support was fantastic, we wouldn’t have been able to do it without, one, Graham’s decisions and, two, his drive – it was unbelievable through that period. He was responsible for that period.”