It’s usually around three months between the end of one football season and the start of the next, but withdrawal symptoms can kick in for many fans within a few days of the final whistle on the last day.

That’s why pre-season friendlies are so eagerly anticipated, coupled with the hope of seeing some new players and probably fresh home and away kit too.

It’s been a while since Watford have headed off on a pre-season tour, either at home or abroad, which fans have been able to attend.

Two summers ago the squad flew to Austria and played a pre-season game behind closed doors against Panathinaikos, but the days of fans following the team to Sweden or even the west of England for a collection of friendlies seem long ago.

Indeed, when fans bemoaned trips to Stevenage and Boreham Wood as part of this pre-season as being a case of ‘same old, same old', they weren’t wrong: the Hornets have played each of their Hertfordshire neighbours five times in pre-season games since 2010.

There is, at least, a trip to Scotland this year with the friendly at Hibernian, although that fixture being in midweek probably limits the number who can attend.

However mundane pre-season games can be, they tend to throw something up – even if it’s just a fear of what’s going to happen when the proper stuff starts.

Back on Saturday, September 5, 2020, the Hornets hosted Tottenham in a pre-season game at Vicarage Road, which marked the only public outing in Watford colours for Pervis Estupinan.

Pervis Estupinan (right) in action for Brighton . . . lad in the background looks familiar too.Pervis Estupinan (right) in action for Brighton . . . lad in the background looks familiar too. (Image: Action Images)

The defender was signed from LDU Quito in his home country of Ecuador in 2016 but, after a series of loans in Spain and that one 70-minute outing against Spurs, he was sold to Villareal for almost £15m without ever playing a competitive match. Wonder how he’s getting on now…

Tom Cleverley captained the Hornets that afternoon, and goals from Domingos Quina and an Andre Gray penalty secured a 2-1 win for Vladimir Ivic’s side.

The summer before Watford claimed something of a pre-season scalp by beating Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 in a friendly played in Austria.

Will Hughes and Gray scored the goals against a Leverkusen side that included Kai Havertz, Paulinho and Moussa Diaby.

Go back to 2016 and Watford played a rare game against Russian opponents when they drew 0-0 with Anzhi Makhachkala in a friendly that also took place in Austria.

The Russian club had, a few years earlier, splurged money on the likes of Roberto Carlos and Samuel Eto’o, then hit the financial buffers soon after and ended up relegated to the second tier.

Cork City's Turners Cross Stadium hosted Watford in July 2012.Cork City's Turners Cross Stadium hosted Watford in July 2012. (Image: Action Images)

The sort of away trip fans may have hoped for in this pre-season took place on Tuesday, July 24, 2012, when Watford travelled to Cork City in Ireland, and won 2-0 in front of a crowd of 1,182.

Joe Garner and Piero Mingoia scored the goals, while there was a rare outing for defender David Mirfin.

Getting sent off in pre-season games is pretty rare, but Tamas Priskin managed the dubious honour in a 1-1 draw with CF Balaguer in a game in Spain in July, 2009.

Big crowds for pre-season friendlies are not common, but Watford hosted Inter in August, 2006, and drew an attendance of 13,272 who saw Marlon King score in a 1-1 draw, while three years earlier 18,629 turned up as the Hornets lost 4-1 to Chelsea.

In between, anyone who attended Alec Chamberlain’s testimonial against Charlton Athletic at Vicarage Road on Saturday, July 30, 2005, would have seen Watford lose 2-1 – but more significantly they would have seen the only public Hornets appearance for ‘man of mystery’ Sietes.

The Spanish defender (real name Jose Manuel Suarez Rivas) spent a year at the club when Aidy Boothroyd was manager after having played for the likes of Valencia and Racing Santander in his home country, but never as much as made it onto the bench in a competitive game and left to join Numancia a year later.

There wasn’t very much to enjoy about Watford’s one season under the leadership of the late Gianluca Vialli, but the Italian legend knew how to organise a pre-season trip.

In summer of 2002, Watford headed out to Lake Garda for a pre-season camp and played games against Frosinone, Inter and Sampdoria.

Brazil legend Ronaldo watched on from the stands as Inter Milan played Watford in a pre-season friendly in Lecco in 2001.Brazil legend Ronaldo watched on from the stands as Inter Milan played Watford in a pre-season friendly in Lecco in 2001. (Image: Action Images)

That was in stark contrast to a year earlier, when Graham Taylor’s final pre-season as Watford manager saw games away at Newquay and Torpoint Athletic.

Memorably, Watford took part in the Steam Packet Festival Tournament on the Isle of Man in summer 1999, shortly after beating Bolton at Wembley and ahead of the club’s first season in the Premier League.

The Hornets finished third in the tournament after beating Tranmere on penalties in a play-off.

Later that summer there was a trip to Ireland, with two Steve Brooker goals securing a 2-0 win at St Patricks in a game where Michel Ngonge was sent off.

There are doubtless fans who headed to Sweden in summer 1995, following Watford on a pre-season tour that saw them play six games in eight days.

On Saturday, August 6, 1994, a crowd of 14,021 packed into Vicarage Road to watch Watford draw a friendly 1-1 with Spurs – the attendance swelled by the first appearance for the North London club of German international striker Jurgen Klinsmann.

That attendance figure was to prove the highest of the season at Vicarage Road.

Jurgen Klinsmann is mobbed at Vicarage Road in August 1994.Jurgen Klinsmann is mobbed at Vicarage Road in August 1994. (Image: Action Images)

In the summer of both 1992 and 1993, Watford based themselves in the West Country and played a number of games against local non-league opposition, including a 2-0 win at Elburton Villa on Saturday, July 18,1992, in a game that marked the opening of Elburton’s new ground.

In July, 1991, Watford prepared for the season ahead by playing the Kuwait Olympic XI at Woodside Stadium in Garston, losing 1-0.

One of the busiest pre-seasons in recent memory was ahead of the 1986/87 season, when Graham Taylor’s troops played ten friendlies, none of which were at home, but did include five in Sweden on another tour of the country.

One of the most famous names Watford have played in a pre-season game is Barcelona, who they lost 2-1 to in August 1984, as part of a four-team tournament in Majorca.

And in terms of crazy scorelines, Taylor’s first-ever game in charge of a Watford team saw them win 13-0 at Leavesden Hospital FC on Saturday, July 23, 1977, with both Keith Mercer and Dennis Bond scoring hat-tricks.