Watford Players With More Than 400 Appearances

TV cameraman recording football match

In modern football, it’s rare for players to hang around at a club for too many seasons (the urge to move is possibly prompted by fee-eager agents). But over the years, Watford have had their fair share of players who’ve shown loyalty and longevity at the club. In this article, we’ll detail the 11 players who have made more than 400 appearances for the Hornets and the single legend who stands alone at the top of the pile with more than 500 appearances for the club.

Watford Players with the Most Appearances

Before we look at the players in a little more detail, let’s summarise the list of players who have played 400+ games for Watford.

Player Position/s Years Playing at Watford Appearances Goals
Luther Blissett Forward 1976 to 1983

1984 to 1988

1991 to 1993

503 186
Nigel Gibbs Defence 1983 to 2002 491 7
Gary Porter Midfield/Defence 1984 to 1997 472 57
Duncan Welbourne Defence 1963 to 1974 457 25
Lloyd Doyley Defence 2001 to 2015 443 2
Tommy Barnett Forward 1928 to 1939 431 160
Kenny Jackett Midfield/Defence 1980 to 1990 428 34
Arthur Woodward Defence/Goalkeeper 1926 to 1939 420 18
Troy Deeney Forward 2010 to 2021 419 140
Johnny Williams Defence 1964 to 1975 419 2
Wilf Rostron Defence 1979 to 1989 404 30

It is interesting to note that only no players who are still playing at the club are members of this elite band of players with more than 400 Watford games in the bag. Indeed, no current squad member has played more than 100 games for the club. But then, not many managers have lasted 100 games in recent times either, so perhaps it shouldn’t come as a massive surprise.

Now let’s take a closer look at some of the players on the above list, starting with the man at the top of the pile.

Watford Legend, Blissett, Alone in the 500 Club

Luther Blissett
Luther Blissett (watfordfc.com)

Luther Blissett had three spells at Watford and not only amassed more games for the Hornets than any other player, but he is also the record goalscorer (with 186 in total in all competitions). His 148 league goals and 17 in the League Cup are also club records, indeed he smashed in seven League Cup goals in a single season in 1978/79! It is another player from the above list who holds the record for the most FA Cup goals for Watford, as we’ll see later.

Blissett’s best season for the Hornets in terms of scoring was 1982/83 when he was the top scorer in the English First Division with 27 goals. That was the season Watford came close to true glory when they finished as runners-up in the title race behind Liverpool. That season’s scoring exploits earned Blissett an unlikely (and ultimately unsuccessful) transfer to Serie A giants AC Milan. But he was back at Watford for the 1984/85 campaign when he scored another 21 goals. One of the greatest players to don a Watford shirt, Luther Blissett will live long in the hearts of Hornets fans.

Best of the Rest

Nigel Gibbs
Nigel Gibbs (watfordfc.com)

Here we’ll run through some of the other players who’ve made more than 400 appearances for the club, starting with the number two on the list.

Nigel Gibbs – 491 Games

Nigel Gibbs is the epitome of a one-club player. Born a stone’s throw from Watford in St Albans, he was a boyhood Hornets supporter, so he jumped at the chance of joining the club’s youth system, initially as a striker before switching to defence. Making his debut in the UEFA Cup third round against Sparta Prague in November 1983, Gibbs would feature for the club in each of the following 18 seasons, with his final game coming in the 2001/02 campaign. A true servant of the club, the loyalty Gibbs showed to Watford is rare in the modern game.

Gary Porter – 472 Games

A player whose Watford career occurred at a similar time to that of Gibbs, Gary Porter was a pivotal member of the Watford midfield during the 1980s and early 1990s. Alongside his 400+ appearances for the club, Porter also chipped in with his fair share of goals, with 57 in total in all competitions, putting him in the top 20 scorers in Watford’s history.

Duncan Welbourne – 457 Games

The only other player with more than 450 games for Watford is Duncan Welbourne, who featured for the club in the 1960s and 1970s. Starting his football life at Scunthorpe United and then moving to neighbours Grimsby Town, he joined the Hornets in 1963 for a fee of £1,300. Among his 457 games for the Hornets, he played in 280 consecutive games, something that no other Watford player has surpassed.

Lloyd Doyley – 443 Games

Lloyd Doyley is one of only three men on our list who have played for Watford in the 21st century. Despite having been born in London, Doyley has represented the Jamaican national side on nine occasions.

Tommy Barnett – 431 Games

Tommy Barnett played for Watford between 1929 and 1939 and is the club’s second-highest scoring with either 160 or 163 goals to his name (depending on the source you choose, with totals differing based on whether certain categories of game count towards the total). Either way, he’s around 20 goals clear of his nearest rival in the all-time scorers list for Watford, and we can’t see anyone overtaking him anytime soon (although Tory Deeney wasn’t far off with 140 goals for the Hornets).

Kenny Jackett – 428 Games

We’ll finish up with the only other man to have played for Watford more than 420 times during their career, Kenny Jackett. Born in Watford itself, Jackett joined the club at the tender age of 12 and, after making his debut for the first team in 1980, stayed there until he retired and went into coaching. He had a stint as Watford boss in 19996/97, but he had more success when managing Swansea City, Millwall, Wolves and Portsmouth.