The wanderer returns
By Chris Salter and Nicholas Ralph
In March 1963, Big Cliff moved on to Crystal Palace, and soon showed that he'd lost none of his old power by scoring a hat trick against us at Vicarage Road. Watford again finished the season 17th, and Burgess received his cards. Blunt Bill McGarry took over - a horse of a different colour. However, when Watford finished 3rd at the end of the 1963-64 season, the spectre of Cliff Holton still returned to haunt them; it was his Crystal Palace that pipped us at the post for elevation to Division 2. McGarry left Watford early in the 1964-5 season to manage Ipswich, and Ken Furphy took over the boss's chair, also pulling on a Watford shirt.
The "Holton Era" already felt far away and long ago, but fate had a final card up her sleeve for us. In May 1965, Furphy signed the 36-year old Holton from Palace for 5,000 pounds and won the hearts of the fans. Yes, Big Cliff was older, slower and some fraction of the power had gone from the shot, but if not a fairy-tale return, it was nevertheless a swan-song to remember and relish.
The Big Fella still found the net on average once every other game. In February 1966 he left us for the last time, Charlton paying 4,000 pounds for the man who proceeded to save them from relegation that season. Amazingly, Cliff's 12 goals in 24 games with Watford left him as the team's leading goal-scorer for that season which they finished in 12th place. He also bequeathed us one final gift in his leaving. Along with the transfer fee, Charlton threw in a young winger by the name of Stewart Scullion to complete the deal....but then that's a subject for another tribute!