Their finest hour
3:00 pm, January 9th 1960
Back in January 1960 the Hornets, at the time in the old Fourth Division, were drawn against a top flight side in the third round of the season's FA Cup competition. Birmingham City provided the Vicarage Road opposition on this occasion and, although the Blues were struggling in Division One at the time, the gap in status was still expected to tell at the end of the day.
Watford were mounting a concerted bid for promotion under the guidance of manager Ron Burgess, the former Tottenham Hotspur and Wales star, and had easily accounted for then non-League adversaries Wycombe Wanderers in the previous round.
Burgess' team lined up with summer signing from Notts County Jimmy Linton in goal and a full-back pairing of Bobby Bell and Ken Nicholas. Bell, who is still a regular visitor to Vicarage Road, came from his native Ayr in 1957 while Nicholas was originally with Arsenal where he emerged from the junior ranks. Long-serving right-half George Catleugh appeared with former junior Vince McNeice and current Doncaster Rovers' boss Sammy Chung in the half-back line, while Watford-born Micky Benning was in the outside right position. The lethal central-striking partnership linked Cliff Holton with former-Spurs junior Dennis Uphill. Another ex-Watford junior Barry Hartle appeared in the inside-left position and the final local Hornet in the side was outside-left Freddie Bunce.
The mixture of local lads progressing through the ranks and the experience of the likes of Holton, Uphill and Chung galvanised the Hornets to produce another legendary Cup victory in front of a huge crowd of 31,500. The tie captured the imagination of the Watford public, and when Dennis Uphill netted the opener for the Hornets there were less than seven minutes gone on the clock. Watford continued to dominate with Bunce and Benning prominent as the Hornets' wide men and it came as no surprise when the other half of the striking duo Cliff Holton doubled the advantage after 12 minutes of the second half. Holton turned and drove past Blues' goalkeeper Schofield in one movement.
In the days before substitutes when Sammy Chung was injured Watford were forced to drop Holton back into defence and, although Harry Hooper pulled one back with a 30 yard shot before the end, the Hornets thoroughly deserved their mantle as one of the round's major giantkillers. The following week the team recieved enormous praise in the club programme and, while the whole side gained generous plaudits, full-back Bobby Bell was singled out for his outstanding defensive contribution. When the fourth round draw was made Watford found themselves away to Southampton. It was not, however, to be the end of the season's Cup run!
by Paul Levene - taken from Watford v Notts County programme (15/10/94)