2002–03 Watford F.C. season

2002–03 season
Chairman Graham Simpson
Manager Ray Lewington
Stadium Vicarage Road
First Division 13th
FA Cup Semi-finals
League Cup First round
Top goalscorer League: Helguson (11)
All: Helguson (13)
Average home league attendance 13,405

The 2002–03 season marked Watford Football Club's third consecutive season in the Football League First Division, following relegation from the Premier League in the 1999–2000 season. The club was managed by its former reserve team manager Ray Lewington, following the dismissal of Gianluca Vialli at the end of 2001–02. The club finished 13th in the First Division, reached the semi-final of the FA Cup, and were eliminated in the first round of the League Cup. Watford were operating under severe financial constraints following the collapse of ITV Digital, and at the end of the season were forced to offload several first team players, including Tommy Smith, Gifton Noel-Williams, Stephen Glass and the club's record signing at the time Allan Nielsen.

Season review

Over the summer many of the Vialli's signings left the club. Lewington had few funds to strengthen the side. The extent of Watford's financial difficulties was exposed in the autumn, along with many League clubs, following the collapse of ITV Digital.[1] The club was facing administration when the players and staff agreed a 12% wage deferral.[2] Exacerbating the club's difficulties were the large payoffs they had had to make to Vialli and several players on terminating their contracts, and Vialli's decision to sue the club early in 2003.[3] The club started the season well, however, despite the players having to agree to a pay-cut during October, and finished in mid-table. An unexpected run to the FA Cup semi-final, where Watford lost to Premiership Southampton,[4] also generated vital cash.[5]

Final league table

Pos Team Pld W D L F A W D L F A F A GD Pts
2Leicester City4616524012109433287340+3392
3Sheffield United4613733823104934297252+2080
5Wolverhampton Wanderers4691044019116641258144+3776
6Nottingham Forest4614725723671025278250+3274
7Ipswich Town461058493998631258064+1670
8Norwich City4614453617581024326049+1169
12Preston North End4611754429561224416870–261
14Crystal Palace4681052917671030355952+759
15Rotherham United468962725751135376262±059
18Derby County469593332621522425574–1952
19Bradford City467882735721424385173–2252
20Coventry City466611233168923314662–1650
21Stoke City469682525381220444569–2450
22Sheffield Wednesday467792932391127415673–1746
23Brighton & Hove Albion4676102931461320364967–1845
24Grimsby Town4656122639461322464885–3739
  • Pld = Matches ; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; F = Goals for; A = Goals against; GD = Goal difference; Pts = Points
  • NB: In the Football League goals scored (F) takes precedence over goal difference (GD).
Football League Champions, promoted to FA Premier League
Promoted to FA Premier League
Participated in play-offs
Promoted to Premier League through play-offs


Watford's score comes first[6]


Win Draw Loss

Football League First Division

10 August 2002Leicester CityA0-231,022
13 August 2002MillwallH0-011,187
17 August 2002WimbledonH3-210,292Webber, Robinson, Neilsen
24 August 2002PortsmouthA0-317,901
26 August 2002Coventry CityH5-211,136Glass, T Smith, Webber, Nielsen, Robinson
31 August 2002Norwich CityA0-420,563
7 September 2002WalsallH2-010,528T Smith, Foley
14 September 2002Nottingham ForestA1-017,865Cox
17 September 2002Preston North EndA1-112,408Robinson
21 September 2002Crystal PalaceH3-312,153Ardley, Hyde, Helguson
28 September 2002Sheffield UnitedA2-116,301Cox (pen), Helguson
5 October 2002Brighton & Hove AlbionH1-015,305Helguson
12 October 2002Grimsby TownH2-013,821Foley, T Smith
19 October 2002GillinghamA0-38,728
26 October 2002Sheffield WednesdayH1-015,058Helguson
30 October 2002Stoke CityA2-111,215Helguson, Cox
2 November 2002Wolverhampton WanderersH1-116,524Cox
9 November 2002Rotherham UnitedA1-26,790Foley
17 November 2002Ipswich TownH0-216,184
23 November 2002ReadingA0-117,465
30 November 2002BurnleyH2-113,977Helguson, T Smith (pen)
7 December 2002Derby CountyA0-321,653
14 December 2002Ipswich TownA2-422,985T Smith, Cox
21 December 2002Bradford CityH1-012,579Cox (pen)
26 December 2002WimbledonA0-02,643
28 December 2002Leicester CityH1-216,017Helguson
1 January 2003PortsmouthH2-215,048Hyde, Cox
11 January 2003MillwallA0-49,030
19 January 2003Norwich CityH2-113,338Neilsen, Helguson
1 February 2003Coventry CityA1-017,393Hyde
8 February 2003Rotherham UnitedH1-215,025T Smith
22 February 2003WalsallA0-27,705
25 February 2003Wolverhampton WanderersA0-024,591
1 March 2003Nottingham ForestH1-117,934Helguson
4 March 2003Preston North EndH0-111,101
15 March 2003Grimsby TownA0-14,847
18 March 2003GillinghamH0-110,492
22 March 2003Stoke CityH1-212,570Helguson
29 March 2003Sheffield WednesdayA2-217,086T Smith, Norville
5 April 2003BurnleyA7-410,208Brown, Hyde, Cox, Chopra (4)
8 April 2003Crystal PalaceA1-014,051Hunt (own goal)
19 April 2003Bradford CityA1-211,145Helguson
21 April 2003Derby CountyH2-011,909Chopra, Ardley
26 April 2003Brighton & Hove AlbionA0-46,841
30 April 2003ReadingH0-311,814
4 May 2003Sheffield UnitedH2-014,320Cox, Fitzgerald

FA Cup

R34 January 2003Macclesfield TownA2-04,244Helguson, Pennant
R425 January 2003West Bromwich AlbionH1-016,975Helguson
R515 February 2003SunderlandA1-026,916T Smith
QF9 March 2003BurnleyH2-020,336T Smith, Glass
SF13 April 2003SouthamptonN1-242,602Gayle

League Cup

R110 September 2002Luton TownH1-214,171Foley

First-team squad

Squad at end of season[7]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1 GK Alec Chamberlain
2 DF Neal Ardley
3 DF Paul Robinson
4 MF Paolo Vernazza
5 DF Neil Cox
6 DF Sean Dyche
7 MF Allan Nielsen
8 MF Micah Hyde
9 FW Tommy Smith
10 DF Wayne Brown
11 MF Stephen Glass
12 MF Gavin Mahon
14 MF Richard Johnson
15 FW Gifton Noel-Williams
16 MF Anthony McNamee
No. Position Player
18 FW Heiðar Helguson
19 DF Jerel Ifil
20 DF Lloyd Doyley
21 FW Dominic Foley
22 FW Lee Cook
23 MF Jamie Hand
24 FW Jason Norville
25 MF Gary Fisken
27 DF Marcus Gayle
28 MF Sam Swonnell
29 MF Jermaine Pennant (on loan from Arsenal)
30 GK Richard Lee
31 DF Jack Smith
32 MF Elliott Godfrey
33 FW Scott Fitzgerald

Left club during season

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
10 MF Stephen Hughes (released)
13 GK Espen Baardsen (to Everton)
17 FW Nick Wright (retired)
No. Position Player
17 FW Michael Chopra (on loan from Newcastle United)
29 FW Danny Webber (on loan from Manchester United)

Reserve squad

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
26 MF Fabien Forde

See also


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