Duncan Welbourne: Club Legend Passes Away
Watford Football Club are deeply saddened to learn that club legend Duncan Welbourne passed away this morning, aged 78.
Our thoughts are with Duncan's family and friends at this difficult time.
Duncan Welbourne (1940 - 2019)
Duncan’s association with Watford Football Club started in November of 1963, when he was signed from Grimsby by Bill McGarry for the sum of £1,300.
During his debut season at Vicarage Road, the Hornets missed out on promotion from Division 3 after they finished two points behind Crystal Palace. Duncan had made an immediate impact though and his presence was missed during the final run-in, as an ankle injury forced him to miss the crucial last seven games of the campaign.
Throughout his time at Vicarage Road he was known as a tough-tackling wing-back or full-back and he achieved a fantastic accomplishment by playing in 280 consecutive league games, breaking a 35-year-old club record.
Considering his reputation as a tough-tackling, all action player, who always gave 100 per cent, the record is perhaps even more impressive. “It’s the only way I know how to play the game,” he explained in Oliver Phillips’ The Golden Boys book.
He went into his consecutive run a wing-half and came out an established full-back - under the guidance of manager Ken Furphy, who took over in March 1964.
Born in Scunthorpe, Duncan actually signed for neighbours Grimsby, aged 16, from under the noses of Scunthorpe, while then Second Division Liverpool were sniffing around the youngster, but they were eventually too late as he signed for the Mariners.
His time at Watford wasn’t just restricted to wide areas, in fact Duncan believes he played in at least eight positions for the Hornets. So, he occupied unaccustomed places in the team – including centre forward – and in total over his 11 seasons he netted 25 goals.
Duncan was part of the Hornets’ Division 3 promotion-winning side in 1968/69, playing in 52 fixtures in all competitions that season, and he also appeared in the club’s first-ever FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea at White Hart Lane in 1970.
His 457 Watford matches rank him behind only Luther Blissett (503), Nigel Gibbs (491) and Gary Porter (472) in the club's all-time appearances list, and having served at Vicarage Road from 1963 through to 1974, Welbourne was inducted into the club's Hall of Fame at the 2010/11 End of Season Awards.
Rest in peace, Duncan.