Vicarage Road

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For the planned London Underground station, see Watford Vicarage Road tube station.
Vicarage Road
"The Vic"
Several men standing on a grass football pitch. One is wearing a black top, black shorts and black socks. Four are wearing yellow tops, black shorts and yellow socks, and six are wearing white shirts, white shorts and white socks. The stand of a sports stadium is visible in the background, with floodlights rising behind it. The floodlights are brightly lit, and the sky is grey.
Location Vicarage Road, Watford, WD18 0ER
Coordinates 51°38′59.41″N 0°24′5.35″W / 51.6498361°N 0.4014861°W / 51.6498361; -0.4014861Coordinates: 51°38′59.41″N 0°24′5.35″W / 51.6498361°N 0.4014861°W / 51.6498361; -0.4014861
Built 1922
Opened 30 August 1922
Owner Watford F.C.
Capacity 17,477 (Increasing to 21,277)[1]
Field size 115 x 75 yards
Watford F.C. (1922–present)
Wealdstone F.C. (1991–1994)
Saracens F.C. (1997–2012)

Vicarage Road, a stadium in Watford, Hertfordshire, England, is the home of the football club Watford. An all-seater stadium, its current capacity is 17,477 for safety reasons.[1]


It has been the home of Watford since 1922, when the club moved from Cassio Road.[2] 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,[3] and to rugby union side Saracens from 1997 until they moved to their new home at Allianz Park in February 2013.[4]

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.[5] 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.[6] The stadium's capacity has been steadily reduced from over 20,000 due to safety concerns and the presence of a terracing area, which is forbidden by the Taylor Report. There have been attempts to modernise the ground and increase its capacity.

Vicarage Road Stand[edit]

Rugby game at Vicarage Road, 2005

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.[7][8]

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.

Its final game as a terrace was a 1–0 loss to Oxford United on 8 May 1993. It opened to the public once more on 18 September 1993, with Watford defeating Notts County 3–1.[9]

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. Since August 2012, the stand has been home to the Hornets Shop[10]

The Rookery Stand[edit]

Part of a stadium, consisting of yellow and red seats. A grass football pitch is visible to the left.
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 and also holds most of the club's administrative areas. 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.[7][11]

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.[12]

The Rookery is the "home end". It lends its name to the Watford fans' podcast, From The Rookery End.[13] The stand was known as the Rover South for Saracens matches.[14]

The Rous Stand[edit]

A two-tiered seating area featuring red, yellow and black seats, running along the length of a football pitch.
The Rous stand and incomplete south west corner (left), pictured in 2012.

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.

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 permanent 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.[citation needed]

The Stand will be renamed the Graham Taylor Stand ahead of the 2014–15 season, taking its name from the club's most successful manager Graham Taylor.[15]

The Main Stand[edit]

The Main Stand, pictured in 2007. The roof of the original Main Stand (left) has since been removed.

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.[16]

In 1969 a new extension to the Main Stand was constructed.[17] 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.[18] 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.

The club announced in September 2013 that work would begin immediately on demolishing the stand and building a replacement with a capacity of around 3,000 seats and allowing for expansion thereafter, with the intention of it opening in the latter part of the 2013–14 season,[19][20] although the Watford Observer reported in October that the actual intention was for just one section of the stand to be opened before the end of the season.[21]

Bad weather meant construction of the new stand could not begin until February 2014,[22] and the following month it was announced the stand would not be ready until the start of the 2014–15 season to allow the stand to run slightly further than the Vicarage Road Stand penalty spot,[23] where it was originally thought it would end, and to increase the capacity by 800 seats.[23]

In May 2014, it was announced the stand will be known as The Watford FC Community Stand.[24]


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.


  1. ^ a b Watford: Club info. The Football League. 1 August 2010. Accessed 30 September 2011.
  2. ^ Trefor Jones (1996). The Watford Football Club Illustrated Who's Who. T.G. Jones. p. 9. ISBN 0-9527458-0-1.
  3. ^ Wealdstone Football Club history. Wealdstone Football Club Supporters Club. Accessed 2 October 2011.
  4. ^ Allnutt, Tom (22 January 2013). "Saracens: 'Thank you Watford FC'". Watford Observer. Retrieved 25 January 2012.
  5. ^ David Conn (21 September 2002). New owners of Vicarage Road revealed as Watford wither. The Independent. Accessed 2 May 2014.
  6. ^ Graham Simpson (31 March 2005). Watford Leisure PLC: Interim Results for the six months ended 31 December 2004. Watford Leisure PLC. Accessed 30 September 2011.
  7. ^ a b The details are Petchey. Harrow Times. 7 May 2003. Accessed 2 October 2011.
  8. ^ Trefor Jones (1996). The Watford Football Club Illustrated Who's Who. T.G. Jones. p. 75. ISBN 0-9527458-0-1.
  9. ^ "The Stadium". Retrieved 3 May 2014. 
  10. ^ "RETAIL: New Home For The Hornets Shop". Watford Football Club. 10 August 2012. Retrieved 3 May 2014. 
  11. ^ Trefor Jones (1996). The Watford Football Club Illustrated Who's Who. T.G. Jones. p. 91. ISBN 0-9527458-0-1.
  12. ^ Alex Hill (4 November 2009). Mayor Dorothy Thornhill Wraps up Vicarage Road housing. Watford Observer. Accessed 2 October 2011.
  13. ^ Watford fans podcast "From the Rookery End" call for supporters' memories. Watford Observer. 1 August 2011. Accessed 1 October 2011.
  14. ^ "Changes to the South West turnstiles". Saracens. 10 January 2008. Archived from the original on 3 April 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  15. ^ "GRAHAM TAYLOR OBE: Hornets To Honour Former Manager With Stand Re-Naming". Watford Football Club. 1 May 2014. Retrieved 3 May 2014. 
  16. ^ David Harrison (July 1999). David Harrison gives us a brief history of Watford. When Saturday Comes. Accessed 30 September 2011.
  17. ^ The Main Stand. Watford Museum. Accessed 30 September 2011.
  18. ^ "East stand changes". Watford Football Club. 14 June 2010. Archived from the original on 12 May 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  19. ^ "East Stand IS Happening". Watford Football Club. 23 September 2013. Accessed 24 September 2013.
  20. ^ Smith, Frank (15 November 2013). "See a number of artist's impressions of Watford's new East Stand here". Watford Observer. Retrieved 3 May 2014. 
  21. ^ Smith, Frank (4 October 2013). "Watford to partially open Vicarage Road East Stand in new year". Watford Observer. Retrieved 3 May 2014. 
  22. ^ "Watford's new East Stand work starts but first section will not open next month". Watford Observer. 28 February 2014. Retrieved 3 May 2014. 
  23. ^ a b Smith, Frank (14 March 2014). "Watford to extend new East Stand by another 800 seats". Watford Observer. Retrieved 3 May 2014. 
  24. ^ "Name Confirmed: The Watford FC Community Stand". Watford Football Club. 1 May 2014. Retrieved 3 May 2014.