Watford’s Best Ever FA Cup Performances

Watford blurred stadium

Watford have, sadly, not required the services of a carpenter to expand the trophy cabinet in recent years. In fact, they have never won a major cup, nor been crowned champions in either of the top two tiers of English football. That said, if we compare the to many teams they have done modestly well and whilst they are no Real Madrid, they have appeared in the Premier League for several seasons. But what is their best performance in the FA Cup?

Once again, whilst they cannot come close to the likes of record FA Cup winners Arsenal (14 victories) or Man United (12), they are, by our measure, the joint-45th most successful team in FA Cup history! How so? Read on to discover all.

Watford FA Cup Summary

A total of 44 teams have won the FA Cup during its long, long history. Of those that have never lifted the iconic trophy, four have appeared in the final twice. The Hornets are in that group and those appearances at Wembley have not been the full extent of their near-misses either.

Stage Number of Times Years
Final 2 2019, 1984
Semis 5 2016, 2007, 2003, 1987,1970
Quarters 4 1988, 1986, 1980, 1932
Fifth Round 7 2009, 1995, 1989, 1983, 1982, 1960, 1931

During the 1980s, as we can see, Watford were incredibly consistent in the FA Cup. They reached the final for the first time in their history, made it to the semis three years later, as well as making the quarters on three occasions during the decade. With three appearances in the Fifth Round as well, the club only once failed to make the last 16 during the 1980s, in what was an FA Cup golden era for them.

2019 FA Cup Final Is One to Forget!

FA cup logoThe last time Watford made it all the way down to the competition’s last two came on the 18th of May, 2019. Watford have enjoyed some great days at Wembley in play-off finals but this is one trip to the national stadium that their fans will very much want to forget.

The Hornets enjoyed a great season overall, finishing 11th in the Premier League as well as making it to the FA Cup showpiece. They had eased through the first three rounds without conceding a single goal. Impressively, all of these matches were away from home, as Watford saw off Woking 1-0, Newcastle 2-0 and QPR 1-0 to book their spot in the quarters.

Here they face Crystal Palace and enjoyed home advantage for the first time. They conceded their first FA Cup goal of the campaign but won 2-1 to make the semi finals, held, of course, at Wembley. They drew Wolves and in what was a truly incredible match, they came from 2-0 down with just 11 minutes to go. They equalised from the penalty spot in the fourth minute of added time and in a tense extra 30 minutes Gerard Deulofeu bagged his second of the game to send the Hornets to Wembley. Well, send them back to Wembley again at any rate!

Any scarred or bitter Watford fans may want to stop reading now because it could all be a bit painful to recall. They faced Man City in the final, with Pep Guardiola’s incredible side looking to seal a domestic treble. With the league and EFL Cup in the bag, they were not to be denied and hammered the Hornets 6-0.

David Silva opened the scoring for City after 26 minutes and Gabriel Jesus made it two 12 minutes later. It was 2-0 at the break and Watford knew they needed something special, though they were, at least, still in the game. And, of course, they had come from two down in the semis, so must have had at least some hope.

The game remained 2-0 into the last half an hour but then a blitz from City put the match well and truly beyond doubt. Kevin De Bruyne, who was subsequently named Man of the Match made it 3-0 after 61 minutes, with Jesus getting his second and City’s fourth just seven minutes later. A Raheem Sterling brace made it rather embarrassing 6-0. But look on the bright side, Watford had become the joint-45th most successful side in the FA Cup!

Toffees Too Good in 1984

As we have seen, Watford did incredibly well during the 1980s in this competition, despite spending the start and end of the decade in the second tier. They were promoted to the old First Division after finishing second in the Second Division in 1982. Amazingly, they finished second in the top flight at the first attempt and then, in 1983/84, made it through to their first-ever FA Cup final.

As they would when making their second appearance, they finished 11th in the league. That was a disappointment after the miraculous efforts of the campaign prior but respectable nonetheless. Their defence was far from watertight in this campaign as they shipped five in the Third Round (their first) alone! They drew 2-2 with Luton, winning the replay 4-3 on home soil.

The next game was simpler, a routine 2-0 win away at Charlton, whilst they beat Brighton 3-1 at home in the Fifth Round. They repeated that score, away, against Birmingham to earn their spot in the semis. They drew Plymouth Argyle and won 1-0 at Villa Park in the days before Wembley semi finals.

Just over a month after that they would face Everton at Wembley, bidding to win the first real silverware in their history. Everton would go on to make the next two FA Cup finals as well, and also won the league in 1985 and 1987, plus the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1985. However, they were not yet the great team they would become and Watford fancied their chances.

It wasn’t to be though. In front of 100,000 fans, the Toffees proved too good, winning 2-0, though the second goal was somewhat controversial, with some believing the scorer, Andy Gray, fouled the Watford keeper. Graeme Sharp had given Everton the lead after 38 minutes, Gray making sure six minutes into the second period. The Hornets never really threatened though, with Howard Kendall’s side running out the deserved winners.