Yellow Brick Road: The Story Of Elton John & Watford FC

By: Watford FC Staff

In light of the exciting news that Sir Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour is stopping off at Vicarage Road for two nights in July 2022, it’s time to take a look back at the former Chairman’s close relationship with Watford Football Club, stretching over the last 50 years.

A boyhood Watford fan born in Pinner, Sir Elton attended Watford matches at Vicarage Road from the age of five with his father, during which time the Hornets were the Brewers, and the familiar bold yellow was instead a dark blue on the club’s home strip.

It was during the 1970s when the connection between the musical superstar and Watford became something more. At first, with Sir Elton making waves with his first hit album and gaining prominence, the singer-songwriter became a Vice-President at the club.

It was during this period that Sir Elton performed at the stadium for the first time, to more than 30,000 spectators. The concert raised vital funds for the club, who weren’t in an enviable financial position, and signalled a more hands-on role for Sir Elton.

He bought the club and became Chairman and President in 1976, with Watford, at one stage, bottom of the entire Football League. An unforgettable and historic friendship with Graham Taylor was born a year later when Sir Elton appointed the then-Lincoln City manager, who turned down a move to First Division West Bromwich Albion.

The duo were unstoppable. Flying up the leagues season by season, with John Barnes, Luther Blissett, Ross Jenkins and co steering the Hornets on the pitch to promotion after promotion. Watford went from 92nd in the Football League to (at one point) the very top.

Elton John’s Taylor-made army finished second in their first stab at the top tier, qualifying for UEFA Cup football and reaching an FA Cup final one season later. Sir Elton had achieved what he set out to do; getting Watford to the First Division.

The Golden Boys walking out at Wembley in 1984 to the traditional song 'Abide With Me' conjured an emotional moment, with footage of Sir Elton crying tears of joy in the stands. It was an occasion that demonstrated his success, not in the musical world he had dominated for several years, but in football.

Sir Elton would sell the club in 1990 to Jack Petchey, but still held interest in the club as President. In 1997, he bought Watford back from Petchey and reignited his owner-manager partnership with Graham Taylor, believing he could “do it all over again”. That’s exactly what they did, with back-to-back promotions sending the Hornets to the Premiership via an astounding play-off final win, in which a post-match interview saw Sir Elton congratulate an emotional Taylor and his team on live television.

Stating that he wanted Watford “to be led by a Chairman who will be able to devote more time to the club than I have been able”, Sir Elton stepped down as Chairman for the final time in 2002. However he remained the club’s Honorary Life-President, and as big a supporter as ever.

His second concert at Vicarage Road took place three years later, raising funds in another difficult period for Watford. Over £1 million was raised, as more than 23,000 supporters witnessed Sir Elton playing his hits for two-and-a-half hours.

It wasn’t to be the last of his performances at The Vic, either. In 2010, with financial strains on the club again at the fore, Sir Elton returned to play his classics in order to raise money for player signings, in his only UK gig of the year. It is noted that the profits from the concert were partially used to sign future Watford captain and legend, as well as fourth all-time club goalscorer, Troy Deeney, from Walsall months later.

Decades of service to Watford Football Club were recognised properly in 2014, when the rebuilt and renovated East Stand was named in his honour, with the chorus to 'Your Song' written at the back of the stand. Sir Elton said upon its opening that it was “one of the greatest days of my life”.

Sir Elton attends Vicarage Road when his busy schedule allows, alongside his family. He was at the final game of the 2020/21 season, meeting the squad who helped Watford to Premier League promotion. He spoke of his pride when watching Watford, reflecting on his time as a supporter, involvement behind the scenes and now watching from the stands or from afar on television.

“What can I say? It’s in my heart, in my soul, you can’t get rid of it. My passion for this club has never died and I’m so proud of this club,” he said in an exclusive interview filmed on the day.

“I’ve seen a lot of football at this club, ever since I was five years old, and we played in blue and there were two of the old stands.

“From when I first came in here as a Vice-President [in 1973], to see us now, we took it on an amazing journey. I’m so proud, considering where we came from, what this club was, what it means to the community. That was Graham’s passion, and we carried that on during Covid with the hospital next door. It’s been an amazing trip.”

The book is far from closed on Sir Elton John and Watford Football Club’s close bond, and will be renewed in July 2022, when he performs at Vicarage Road over two nights.

Watch Now

Share this article

Other News