It’s a month until the opening day of the 2024/25 Championship season on August 10.

At 12.30pm on that day is when the whole rollercoaster of emotions cranks into gear again, and Watford set off on a nine-month journey to who knows where.

After two seasons of chronic under-achievement, there will be many who are not approaching the new campaign with too much optimism.

Of course, those of an older vintage will remember the days when the Hornets were starting the new season and seeing the likes of Workington, Southport and Gateshead among the fixtures that lay ahead.

So here’s a look back at the opening day of the season through the decades: 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 years ago.

August 9, 2014 - beat Bolton 3-0 at home

In a taste of things to come, Watford had a total of four different head coaches in 2014/15.

They started the season with Beppe Sannino, Oscar Garcia was in charge for four games before illness curtailed his time at Vicarage Road.

Billy McKinlay squeezed in a couple of games before Slavisa Jokanovic took over – all in the space of little more than two months!

Troy Deeney led the Hornets out of the tunnel in a partially rebuilt main stand on August 9, and then lobbed the opening goal after 17 minutes.

Matej Vydra ran onto Daniel Toszer’s pass to check inside and make it 2-0 six minutes later, and the points were secured 10 minutes from the end when substitute Fernando Forestieri broke clear and slotted home.

You can see the goals from that game here.

It was a day of debuts, with keeper Heurelho Gomes making his first appearance after signing from Spurs, while Gabriel Tamas, Juan Carlos Paredes, Lloyd Dyer and Gianni Munaro all made their Watford bows.

Despite all the upheaval at the start of the campaign, Watford went on to finish second in the Championship and were promoted to the Premier League for the third time in their history.

Watford: Gomes; Pudil (Dyer), Ekstrand, Angella, Paredes, McGugan (Munari), Abdi, Tamas, Toszer, Vydra (Forestieri), Deeney.

Attendance: 15,546

August 7, 2004 - lost 2-1 at Preston

This was the first game in a season that saw the end of Ray Lewington’s time as manager of the Hornets, with Aidy Boothroyd taking over in late March for the final seven games of the campaign.

Lewington’s final game in charge was, ironically, a 2-0 home defeat at Vicarage Road to Preston.

Boothroyd managed a couple of victories in the closing weeks as the Hornets limped to 18th place in the Championship.

On the opening day at Deepdale in August, the home side went ahead through Richard Cresswell after 34 minutes, but Watford levelled two minutes after the restart with a goal from Paul Devlin.

Paul Devlin scored for Watford in defeat at Preston on the opening day of the 2004/05 season.Paul Devlin scored for Watford in defeat at Preston on the opening day of the 2004/05 season. (Image: Action Images)

However, North End secured all three points when David Healy scored from the penalty spot after 77 minutes after Devlin had fouled Eddie Lewis.

The Hornets gave a debut to midfielder Brynjar Gunnarsson, while fellow Iceland international Heidar Helguson came off the bench in a Watford team that also included Sean Dyche, Bruce Dyer and Ashley Young.

Watford: Lee; Ardley (Young), J Smith (Bouazza), Cox, Dyche, Mayo, Devlin, Gunnarsson, Mahon, Dyer (Helguson), Webber.

Attendance: 12,208

August 13, 1994 - lost 3-0 at Sheffield United

The home side needed just eight minutes to get ahead through Jostein Flo, and they had a grip on the game when Mitch Ward made it 2-0 just before half-time.

The Blades, managed by former Watford boss Dave Bassett, completed the victory when Ward volleyed home his second after the break.

The goals from the game are at the start of this video review of the season.

It wasn’t a great debut for keeper Kevin Miller, but he was to go on and have an excellent career at Vicarage Road, while the game at Bramall Lane also saw a first Watford appearance for striker Jamie Moralee: he was signed to replace Paul Furlong who had been sold to Chelsea for £2.3m, but the £450,000 of that sum invested on the signing of the former Millwall forward proved to be a pretty miserable decision.

It was also the day that current BBC Three Counties commentator Derek Payne made his debut for the Hornets, who were to end the season in an impressive seventh place in the second tier under the guidance of the late Glenn Roeder.

Watford: Miller; Bazeley, Foster, Holdsworth, Watson, Hessenthaler, Payne, Ramage (Soloman), Porter, Mooney, Moralee.

Attendance: 16,820

August 25, 1984 - drew 1-1 at Man Utd

United went ahead in 22nd minute when Gordon Strachan broke clear and was tripped by Steve Sherwood as he tried to round the keeper. The Scotsman then converted the resultant penalty for his first United goal on his debut after joining from Aberdeen for £500,000.

Watford snatched a well-earned point in stoppage time when substitute George Reilly flicked on a free-kick and Nigel Callaghan cracked home an angled volley at the back post.

“Watford played well enough to deserve it,” United manager Ron Atkinson admitted afterwards.

There are brief video highlights of the BBC coverage of that game available online.

The Hornets finished 11th in the old Division One under Graham Taylor in a season that saw club legends Tony Coton and John McClelland join.

Watford: Sherwood; Bardsley, Rostron, Taylor, Terry, Sinnott, Callaghan, Johnston, Blissett, Jackett, Barnes (Reilly).

Attendance: 53,668

August 17, 1974 - drew 1-1 at Colchester

Steve Leslie’s goal put Colchester ahead, and Stuart Scullion equalised with a header from a free-kick.

Former Hornet Jimmy Lindsay should have won it for the home side but he fired wide of an open goal, while another ex-Watford player, keeper Mike Walker, denied Scullion a second goal when he tipped his lob over the bar.

Stuart Scullion scored in a draw at Colchester on the opening day of the 1974/75 campaign.Stuart Scullion scored in a draw at Colchester on the opening day of the 1974/75 campaign. (Image: Watford Observer)

The game saw debuts for both Bobby Downes and Ken Goodeve.

Watford went on to finish 23rd in the old Third Division under Mike Keen that season, and dropped into Division Four.

Watford: Rankin; Butler, Keen, Goodeve, Williams, Craker, Bond, Scullion, Downes, Jennings, Morrissey.

Attendance: 5,715

August 22, 1964 - beat Hull City 2-1 at home

The match programme for this game said the Watford board were determined to go for league honours, and manager Bill McGarry – who had been linked with other jobs during the summer – was “rededicating himself to the task of leading a club out of the Third Division”.

By early October, McGarry had left to take over at Ipswich Town though and a certain Ken Furphy arrived at Vicarage Road, a manager who was indeed to lead Watford into the second tier.

The Hornets’ confidence was built on their third place in the Third Division in the 63/64 campaign, the closest the club had come to reaching the second tier until that point.

McGarry won only two of the opening 11 league games that season, one of which was a 2-1 success over Hull on the opening day.

Bunny Larkin and Jimmy McAnearney scored the goals on a day when keeper Peter Goy, winger Graham French and midfielder Billy Houghton all made their debut.

Watford went on to finish ninth in the table – in 1969, they and Furphy were to climb to new heights.

Watford: Goy; Chung, French, Harris, Houghton, Jones, Larkin, McAnearney, Nicholas, Owen, Welbourne.

Attendance: 9,586