|Location||Vicarage Road, Watford, WD18 0ER|
|Opened||30 August 1922|
|Capacity||17,477 (Increasing to 20,000+) |
|Field dimensions||115 x 75 yards|
|Watford F.C. (1922–present)
Wealdstone F.C. (1991–1994)
Saracens F.C. (1997-2012)
It has been the home of Watford since 1922, when the club moved from Cassio Road. The ground was officially opened by Col. Charles Healey of Benskins Brewery for the visit of Millwall on 30 August 1922. In addition to being Watford's home since opening, the stadium was also home to Wealdstone F.C. between 1991 and 1993, and to rugby union side Saracens from 1997 until they moved to their new home at Allianz Park in February 2013.
After purchasing the freehold of the stadium from Benskins in January 2002, Watford's financial situation forced them to sell and lease back the stadium later that year. However, after a campaign entitled 'Let's Buy Back The Vic' with donations coming from fans, as well as celebrity former owner Elton John donating the entire proceeds of a concert held at the venue, the club was able to repurchase the stadium in September 2004. The stadium's capacity has been steadily reduced from over 20,000 due to safety issues and terracing area, which is forbidden by the Taylor Report, though there have been attempts to modernise the ground.
Vicarage Road Stand
The Vicarage Road Stand was built following the conclusion of the 1992–93 season. Previously an open terrace, the all-seater stand was built to comply with the Taylor Report and raise the standard of the ground. It cost £2.3 million to build and has a capacity of 5,800 people. Construction was largely funded by the £1.2m sale of Bruce Dyer in 1994.
Originally a mere earth bank when the club moved to the ground, it was gradually transformed into a conventional terrace. In 1978, an electronic scoreboard was put up, which became an iconic symbol of Watford's eighties heyday. In a display of solidarity with the home support, Graham Taylor maintained that the benches for the coaching staff and substitute on the side of the pitch would remain exposed to the elements until such time as the home end was covered.
Previously the home stand, it now houses the away support. A partition was subsequently added, meaning that both home and away support could be put in the stand. Half of the stand is given to away fans, and the other half is used as the family area for home fans. It also houses wheelchair supporters of both teams.
The Rookery Stand
At present the newest part of the stadium, the Rookery Stand was built over the course of the 1994–95 season. Another former terrace, the all-seater Rookery stand has a capacity of 6,960. Larger than the Vicarage Road stand, it has facilities on two levels. It also holds most of the club's administrative areas, along with the club shop, which was moved to its current location in November 2005 from a site on Vicarage Road. The stand cost £1.6 million to build, approximately £300,000 of this figure was contributed by the Football Trust, with the remaining money coming from the £2.3m sale of Paul Furlong by then-owner Jack Petchey in 1994.
When Watford moved from Cassio Road, this end of the ground featured a roof over a cinder bank, and over the years the roof eventually had to be removed for safety reasons. The Supporters' Club eventually raised funds to enable the Rookery End to feature concrete terracing under cover, and this aim was realised in 1959.
The new stand, replacing the 1959 model was used by Watford supporters for the first time on 22 April 1995, for the visit of Bristol City. As part of redevelopment work in conjunction with the Watford Health Campus, 164 units of affordable housing, known locally as The Wrap, were built on and around the Rookery end. Construction finished in 2009.
The Rous Stand
The Rous Stand — named after former FIFA president Sir Stanley Rous — runs along the side of the pitch, on the west side of the ground. It is a two-tiered stand, with executive boxes and a TV camera gantry. Which until renovation work is now on scaffolding on the opposite side of the stadium.
Built in 1986, it replaced the Shrodells Stand. The £3 million development was partly funded via a loan from Elton John. The upper tier, complete with executive boxes, was constructed first, and temporary seats forming a lower-tier were added later. These were later replaced with permanents seats, first used for a game against Notts County on 18 September 1993.
When the club moved from Cassio Road in 1922, the Union Stand was transported and reconstructed on this side of the ground. It was replaced by the Shrodells Stand, which was constructed during the 1930s. It was extended in 1979 with a further 2,200 seats replacing the standing enclosure in front of the stand.
The final match for the Shrodells Stand was against Manchester United on 3 May 1986, the new Rous Stand opened on 23 August 1986, when Oxford United visited Vicarage Road, with Watford coming out 3–0 winners.
The Upper Rous is well known amongst Hornets fans for being the most sedate part of the ground.
The Main Stand(s)
The Main Stand sits on the east side of the ground, and contains the changing rooms, tunnel, director's box and press area. The eldest stand of the four, the Main Stand contains the only part of the original stadium built at Vicarage Road still standing.
Constructed in 1922 as Watford moved from Cassio Road to the present ground, the stand was included as part of the stadium constructed with the financial help of Benskins' breweries, who initially handed the land to the football club on a 21-year lease. The construction cost was approximately £7,000.
In 1969 a new extension to the Main Stand was constructed. The extension added approximately 1,700 seats to the East side of the ground. Seats were added to the terrace in front of the original Main Stand in 1982 to create the club's family enclosure, and capacity was further increased with the addition of uncovered seats towards the Vicarage Road end of the stadium around the same time.
In 2004, parts of the stand were closed, after they were deemed unfit for use. The remainder of the stand closed to spectators in 2008. Two years later, the part of the roof which remained from 1922 was dismantled due to structural concerns. The East side of the ground has been subject to many planning permissions which, although accepted by the council, have never been realised for the lack of financial backing. Under the stable ownership of the Pozzo family, a request was submitted which would see the stand demolished and re-built. It's thought the work will take between 1–2 months to complete, as indicated by the club in its application to the authorities.
Demolition and rebuilding of the Main Stand is expected to take place during the course of the 2013-14 football season, providing the stadium with 3,400 extra seats and allowing for expansion thereafter.
The first game under floodlights at Vicarage Road was played in 1953, when lights were installed on top of the Main Stand. These were replaced in 1960, with four pylons being built in the corners of the ground. Currently the floodlights are mounted on the top of the Vicarage Road and Rookery Stands.
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