For those of us old enough to recall scrubbing about as founder members of the Fourth Division, and even Division Three South days, the concept of Watford making the Second Division was to Watford what winning the European Cup was to Manchester United, writes Oliver Phillips.

That we finally made it under Ken Furphy in 1969, was a breathtaking experience. With that in mind, you can imagine what it was like when they actually made the impossible dream a reality and debuted in the top flight.

The bookies made Watford favourites for relegation and the Hornets embarked on a campaign that saw them achieve their highest-ever status runners-up to the League champions.

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Unless you believe Watford will win the Premiership championship one day, it seems likely that the events of 1982-83 will remain forever Watford's high-water mark.

Then again, we did not think they would ever reach Division One.

So, we go back to that opening day of the big adventure through uncharted waters and a home game against Everton on August 28, as I reported the following week.

From The Watford Observer, September 3, 1982

Watford: Sherwood, Rice, Bolton, Jackett, Rostron, Blissett, Lohman, Callaghan, Armstrong, Jenkins, Barnes.

Substitute: Taylor for Callaghan after 83 mins.

Everton: Southall, Borrows, Bailey, Higgins, Wright, Heath, McMahon, Johnson, Sharp, King, Sheedy.

Substitute: Richardson for McMahon after 77 mins.

Everton boss Hoard Kendall mirrored the remarks of John Lyall and Ron Atkinson, managers of the previous two Division One visitors when he admitted that the Hornets deserved to win and that his own side "never got going".

It is a long season and it would be foolish to get over confident on the strength of the first home success, but the sort of displays put up by recent Division One opponents at Vicarage Road is, at the least, rather puzzling.

Teams only play as well as they are allowed and it would sell Watford short to dismiss their victory on the grounds that Everton provided poor opposition.

But while Watford's direct and forceful style of play may confuse opponents, the recent Division One visitors have shown little sign of attempting to really get to grips with the problem. One must accept that Everton were trying on Saturday and not treating it like an end-of-season run-out. But there was little evidence of conviction in their play apart from some spirited play by McMahon.

"I have never been so depressed by a team performance as I was this afternoon," said Kendall after the game. "Our strength is playing football and we did not play."

Suffice to say, a team that finished eight in last season's Division One table looked no different from some of the more hesitant Division Two sides we have down here last term.

On the radio, Frank McLintock is alleged to have crucified the game, lashing out at both sides for the lack of entertainment. True it was more of a opener than an appetiser but the former successful captain of Arsenal, and failure as manager of Leicester, may have glossed over the fact that only one side on Saturday showed the sort of conviction and urgency to win.

Everton seemed more concerned with frustrating their opponents than dictating the proceedings. They spent the first nine minutes penned in their own half and their overall first- half display was quite appalling for a side drawn from a £2.25 million squad with the inducement of a season's promise ahead of them.

Watford were superior in nearly every department. There were the odd touches from the visitors but the sum of their parts was nowhere near the effectiveness of Watford's whole.

His point, of course, was that there was little between the two sides when it came to technique, while Watford's tactics made more of an impact. And when boiling it down, the casual, unbiased visitor to Vicarage Road, would have been hard-pressed to accurately pick the Division One newcomers from those with a lengthy First Division pedigree.

For Watford, it was a great start with the darling of the National Press giving some support to their pre-match hype, by hitting the first goal and looking the most dangerous forward in an eye catching first half.

But man of the match in my book was Wilf Rostron who played superbly in defence and his reading of a late break by Everton was exemplary. Rostron did not commit himself, keeping the options open, and forcing one to part with the ball only to be handily placed to stretch and block the final shot.

Kenny Jackett, who could have been excused by being upset by some Page 3 publicity the previous day, had a fine afternoon at the centre of defence, teaming up well with the majestic Ian Bolton. Sherwood, too, made two superb saves while Pat Rice was able to celebrate his first-ever and most bizarre goal even if he did not see it.

Up front, Ross Jenkins and Gerry Armstrong gave a glimpse of the understanding, the lack of which has often caused them to be a second-choice partnership. Nigel Callaghan had a useful game, providing it with the supreme moment of athleticism in a move, which should have earned a goal, and also being unlucky not to earn a justifiable penalty, after being tripped by an Everton defender who made no attempt to play the ball.

The main talking point of the afternoon, centred around Rice's 65th-minute goal. Some felt it should have been accredited to the hapless Neville Southall as an own goal. Strangely there still seems to be some doubt in the game as to what constitutes an own goal, but for the record, an own goal is one in which, but for the contribution of the opponent, the ball would have missed the target.

Rice's badly sliced free kick was caught by Southall who dropped back towards his net as television proved, to a far greater degree than was apparent to us in the Main Stand at the time.

Southall vehemently disagreed with the decision, an understandable reaction for a goalkeeper who had just been adjudged as making the most basic of errors. Jenkins felt there was considerable room for potential when he appealed for the goal and certainly the linesman had no doubts. By freezing the action on the video, it is apparent that Southall, when dropping back on to one leg, pulled the ball towards his neck in a reflex action before shoving it out over the line.

On balance this was a fortunate break for Watford but again, they should have had that first-half penalty so justice was done.

Watford had the early pressure but Everton produced the goal attempts with Sharp attempting to lob Sherwood, when on the break and the busy McMahon driving wide from 20 yards out.

In another raid, Heath's cross lacked the accuracy to pick out the unmarked Sharp while at the other end, a mishit shot from Blissett was all Watford had to show for their first 20 minutes in Division One action.

But in the 22nd minute, Watford broke through. Armstrong was sandwiched on the left and Callagahn curled the resultant free kick into the path of Jenkins. The striker was unable to reach the ball as he attempted to prod past Southall but it hit a defender instead, bounced off Jenkins and finally fell into the path of Armstrong as the other three participants fell to the ground and he duly forced the ball home.

Spurred by this, Watford suddenly exploded with attacking potential when Armstrong sent the ball across field and Callaghan leapt in front of the full back to chest the ball down. Moving in on goal, he veered to the right and set in a fierce shot from 20 yards out which beat Southall, hit the post and rebounded on to the goalkeeper and away to the left. Jenkins retrieved the ball, turned and chipped beyond the far post where Callaghan dived to head over.

This was more like it and when Rostron broke forward and chipped into the middle, Jenkins headed down for Armstrong to tank a curling shot which lifted just beyond the angle of post and bar. The striker should have done better, when picked out by Rostron's cross, but instead he headed straight at Southall. His welcome readiness to shoot was again demonstrated a little later when he turned to send a shot over the bar but somehow Everton survived this flurry of activity and a penalty appeal to remain in contention at the interval.

The second half was a more even affair but still, the visitors were fortunate when Southall failed to clear a cross and, as defenders raced to the line, the ball hung too long above Jenkins, who finally clubbed the ball awkwardly.

McMahon put in Everton's first real potent shot - a low drive collected comfortably by Sherwood but the goalkeeper had to excel a few minutes later to make a flying save to tip the ball over the bar left-handed and deny McMahon's fierce shot.

But by then Watford had increased the lead via Rice, yet with Blissett often ranging a little too deep, Watford seemed to lose the battle in midfield and Everton came forward, Taylor was brought on for Callaghan but Watford had lost most of their forward impetus.

There remained a few anxious moments but Sherwood made a brilliant save to deny Sheedy and Rice blocked a Johnson effort near the line.

Eventually 90 minutes after Kenny Jackett became the first Watford player to touch the ball in a Division One match, the game ended and victory, while perhaps anticipated, was somehow easier than expected.