Which are the best sports clubs in Watford?
With only a couple of months left in the 2022/23 NBA season, and just a few weeks until the much anticipated 2023 NBA All-Star Game, public interest in sports has never been higher. This has been helped by the cold weather that we have been experiencing across the UK in recent months, which is forcing us to spend more time indoors than we might ordinarily want to!
Despite the challenges of the winter months, there is arguably no better time of year to be a sports fan. And this is equally true for the denizens of Watford and the many local sports clubs they have to support as it is for those sports fans looking further afield with NBA predictions!
Although Watford has arguably become better known for its association with the Warner Bros. studio, the Harry Potter franchise and the movie industry more generally, it is still a sporting hotspot within the UK. And this has been helped by the many high-level sports team that call this part of Hertfordshire home.
But who are these sports teams and what options to Watford locals have to choose from when it comes to expressing their hometown pride?
Although they are just one of a number of teams, by far the biggest hometown heroes when it comes to sports are the mighty Watford F.C.!
Watford F.C. are a professional football team that currently compete in the EFL Championship, having previously competed in the UEFA Cup, FA Cup and the Premier League.
Watford F.C. – who also go by the nicknames the Hornets, the Golden Boys or the ‘Orns, depending on who you are talking to – are one of the most historic football clubs in the UK and have a history stretching back all the way to 1881. They have played out of their historic Vicarage Road stadium since 1922 and have a long-standing rivalry with Luton Town.
Interestingly, Watford F.C. can also count a high-profile, international celebrity as among their most hardened fans! Elton John – who has a stand at Vicarage Road named after him – is a former chairman of the club and has supported the team for most of his life.
Watford F.C. fans are known for being particularly passionate about their team, and have stood with them through the highs of promotion and the lows of relegation over the years. With that said, it is easy to see why so much of sporting life in Watford revolves around this group of hometown heroes!
Although you might not have realised it, given the domineering presence of sports like rugby and soccer, the UK is one of the leading countries outside of the USA for American football fans. In fact, according to recent polling data by YouGov, just shy of a tenth of the UK population are interested in American football. This puts them within the top six countries outside the US with the most interest in the NFL!
Despite the stiff competition American football faces in the UK, interest in the sport has flourished. And nowhere is this more clear than in the emergence of local American football teams such as the Hertfordshire Cheetahs.
The Hertfordshire Cheetahs is an American football club based in Watford and includes a senior team competing in the BAFA National Leagues, in addition to various youth teams.
Surprisingly, the Hertfordshire Cheetahs have been around since 1986, when they were first set up as the Chiltern Cheetahs. They eventually ended up relocating to Watford, which has been a welcoming home for them ever since!
Despite American football still being a relatively niche sport in the UK, Cheetahs fans are incredibly enthusiastic, with local games regularly attracting thousands of fans from across the region.
Glen Rovers GAA Club
Another niche sport that has proved surprisingly popular in the Watford area is the Glen Rovers GAA club.
Glen Rovers is a Watford-based hurling and Gaelic football club and was first formed in North Watford all the way back in 1953. They have recently moved into a new permanent home at Radlett Road, which includes state-of-the-art training facilities and a match-ready pitch.
Glen Rovers has a long history within the Irish community in Watford and has provided both Irish immigrants and British-Irish locals a way to connect with their heritage over the years.
The Glen Rovers club fields both men’s and women’s teams, in addition to a hugely popular youth offering known as the Mini Rovers.
Photo credit: Watford FC