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Official Review by Stephan Hoogerwaard, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Vicarage Road is a stadium in the English town of Watford (Hertfordshire) in the greater London area. The nickname of the stadium is ‘The Vic’ and that name has been adopted by most of the Watford FC supporters.
Since the completion of the new Sir Elton John Stand in 2014 the stadium offers seating for 20,877 spectators. The regular tenant of the stadium is Watford Football Club which competed in the Championship (the second highest league in English football) in 2014-2015. Beginning in the 2015-2016 season the club and stadium will be featured in the top flight of English football, the Premier League!
Since 1922 Vicarage Road has been the home of Watford FC. The first match ever to be played at ‘The Vic’ was on the 30th of August 1922 against Millwall. Between 1997 and 2013 the stadium was shared with rugby club Saracens.
In January 2002 Watford became the owner of the stadium, but due to financial problems they had to sell the property, and the stadium was rented again. Thanks to donations from supporters and former owner Sir Elton John it was Watford FC who took over the stadium again in September 2004.
Vicarage Road has four different stands. The stadium has been rebuilt stand by stand in the past three decades. The only two-tiered stand at The Vic is the Graham Taylor Stand, built in 1986, with a capacity of 5,771 seats. Behind the goals you will find the Vicarage Road Stand (1992, 5,796 seats) and the Rookery Stand (1995, 6,960 seats). The newest stand is the Sir Elton John Stand which was opened in 2014. It is by far the smallest of the four stands with a capacity of just 3,100 seats.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The counters underneath the brand new Sir Elton John Stand are looking very poor and certainly are not Premier League worthy. The variety of food and drinks is also poor, but the prices are equal to what would be expected inside a football ground in England.
Drinks include tea (GBP 1.60), coffee (GBP 2.00), soft drinks (GBP 2.00), and beer (Singha or Carlsberg for GBP 3.50). Food offerings include hot dogs (GBP 3.70), steak & ale pie, chicken balti pie or Bombay pie (GBP 3.30).
As you might expect of a ground having one of the smallest seating capacities in Premier League, the inside of the stadium feels compact. Whilst empty, all seats inside the stadium are in the club colours: red, black and yellow. There's very little room beyond the sidelines and behind the goals which gives Vicarage Road an intimate character. The stands (which are almost fully enclosed) are right on top of the field making Watford fans feel like they are truly part of the action. The home fans are housed in the Rookery Stand and are most vocal in this part of the ground. The away supporters are located at the Vicarage Road Stand of the stadium.
The neighbourhood around the stadium is not really spectacular. The stadium is located next to the Watford General Hospital and has mostly outdated houses around its perimeter. In this area pubs are rare. For a good drink you definitely need to go to High Street towards the city centre where you will find a few pubs like the Moon Under Water and the Colombia Press. Stay close to the Watford city centre when you visit a match at Vicarage Road.
The nickname of the Watford fans is 'The Hornets' and their club mascot is Harry the Hornet. During the 2014-2015 season in the Championship Watford had an average home gate of around 17,500, but will surely sell out every home game in the Premier League. Their rivals are Luton Town, but they are playing in League Two at the moment. The closest Premier League ground to Vicarage Road is White Hart Lane, home of Tottenham Hotspur FC.
Driving by car to the stadium, it is easily reached via the M25 ring road London (exit 5 of the junction M1 motorway). Upon entering the town via the city centre it will take less than 10 minutes to get you to the stadium.
Street parking is not possible nearby the stadium. Only local residents who have a parking permit are allowed to park here. Park the car at Blackwell Drive, and from there it takes about fifteen minutes walking to the ground. The Vic is also reachable from the London city centre by underground, the Watford tube station is the last stop of the Metropolitan line.
Prices at Vicarage Road vary from GBP 26.00 for a seat behind the one of the goal ends, to GBP 28.00 for the Sir Elton John Stand and GBP 30.00 for the Graham Taylor Stand with concessions for O.A.P's and under 16's. We find these ticket prices quite expensive for attending a football match in the second highest league of English football.
The club offer stadium tours, but there are many more interesting grounds in the greater London area. The Vicarage Road stadium has also a club shop (which is located inside the Vicarage Road Stand). Match day programmes are on sale for every game priced at GBP 3.00.
We were fortunate enough to be at the match where fans ran on to the pitch after the team secured their promotion to Premier League status, adding to our particular experience.
Watford fans are great and this is a nice stadium overall, but there are some more interesting clubs and grounds in the London area.
Member Review by pompeyfox on May 07, 2012
Vicarage Road stadium was opened in 1922 and is home to both Watford Football Club and Saracens Rugby Union Club. It currently has an all seated capacity of 17,477 with the final part of the stadiums redevelopment plan taking place shortly when the old main stand will be replaced.
Previously a typical English lower division ground, the club were forced to upgrade Vicarage Road following the club’s rapid rise to what is now the English Premiership during the 1980’s under the Chairmanship of Elton John. The stadium has been rebuilt stand by stand and the club has made a decent following from this considering the stadium’s location.
The peculiar looking floodlights give the stadium its own identity. With Watford currently stabilising in the Championship, the stadium is more than capable of hosting Premiership football should they return to the top flight from which they were last relegated a few years back.
Watford, England WD18 0RD
011 44 1923 225766
44 High Street
Watford, Hertfordshire WD17 2BS
+44 1923 223559
72-74 The Parade
Watford, Herfordshire WD17 1AW
+44 1923 811540
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