Vicarage RoadEdit profile
Vicarage Road, a stadium in Watford, Hertfordshire, England, is the home of the football club Watford and their tenants, the Saracens rugby union club. A four stand all-seater stadium, its capacity is 17,504.
It has been the home of Watford since 1922, when the club moved from a ground on Watford's Cassio Road. The ground was officially opened by Col. Charles Healey of Benskins Brewery for the visit of Millwall on August 30, 1922. Watford temporarily had to sell the stadium in 2003. 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 2005 for £7.6m.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.
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 Saturday, May 8, 1993. It opened to the public once more on September 18 1993, with Watford defeating Notts County 3–1.
The home stand until 1999, it now houses the away support. A partition was added in 2004, meaning that both home and away support could be put in the stand. In previous seasons, the whole of the Vicarage Road Stand could be allocated to visiting supporters, but now only half of the stand is given to away fans, and the other half is used 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 sale of Paul Furlong and Bruce Dyer by owner Jack Petchey at the end of the 1993–94 season.
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 April 22 1995, for the visit of Bristol City.
The Rookery is the "home end," containing the noisier Watford fans and noticeably more electric atmosphere. The stand is also popular with Saracens supporters, although it is known as the 'Rover South' stand for rugby matches.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.
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 September 18, 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 May 3, 1986, the new Rous Stand opened on August 23, 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 structure featured 3,500 seats and a standing enclosure and cost around £7,000.
In 1969 a new extension to the main stand was constructed adding approximately 1,700 seats to this 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 club are drawing up plans — originally shelved after 2002's financial crisis — to redevelop the stand, along with making considerable developments to the Rous Stand. This scheme is in conjunction with Watford General Hospital, whose site runs alongside the Rous.
In 2010, the 88 year-old Main Stand was dismantled, leaving just the 1969 extension remaining on the east side of the stadium.Floodlights
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.