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Players: Tributes:
Cliff Holton
Their finest hour
3:00 pm, November 1st 1958

When the Football League decided to scrap the old regional Third Divisions at the end of the 1957/58 season, Watford found themselves in the new Division Four doing battle with several northern sides for the first time.

In November 1958 Watford, in their last season in blue shirts, travelled up to Boundary Park, Oldham for the initial encounter between the two sides for League points.

Watford were strengthened by the inclusion of new record signing Cliff Holton from Arsenal at centre forward. The former Gunner was captured for stlg 10,000 the previous month and had made his debut in a 5-1 drubbing of the ill-fated Gateshead club the week before, although he did not find the net in that game.

Holton's Watford colleagues at Boundary Park lined up with ex-Chelsea keeper Mike Collins in goal and Scot Bobby Bell partnering ex-Swansea man Jack Harrop in the full-back positions. George Catleugh, signed from Nuneaton Borough in May 1954, was at right-half with former junior Vince McNeice at centre-half and Watford's longest serving player Johnny Meadows at wing-half. The forward line featured two players signed from Norwich City in July 1958: Johnny Gavin and Peter Gordon on the right, while Holton's left-sided partners were ex-Morton striker George Fleming and another ex-Watford junior Freddie Bunce.

Holton did not waste much time opening his Watford account when the game kicked off. Only three minutes were on the clock when the big man planted the ball beyond Teele in the home goal and before the Latics could recover he turned provider, threading the ball through to Freddie Bunce who had an easy opportunity to score. Watford and Holton were not finished yet, however, as the new signing piled on the agony with his second, a shot from 18 yards out.

Watford had raced to a 3-0 half-time lead, but Oldham's tormented defence were unable to gain much respite after the restart. After 20 minutes of the second period Johnny Gavin raced onto an inch perfect pass from Holton for number four and, while George Catleugh's trip on Phoenix resulted in Jim Thompson netting for the Latics from the spot, Watford restored their winning margin with 10 minutes to go. This time it was the other former Canary Peter Gordon who scored following an excellent solo run. It capped a superb away performance from 'the Blues' and, although Oldham winger Peter Phoenix was allowed to score twice at the death for the home side, Watford had found a new idol in Cliff Holton inspiring his colleagues to produce a gargantuan away performance and, in the process, a 5-3 win.

by Paul Levene - taken from Watford v Luton Town programme (17/9/94)