jump to navigation

Terry Challis 07/10/2009

Posted by Ian Grant in Thoughts about things.

For those of a certain vintage – well, quite a number of vintages – the cartoons of Terry Challis are as much a part of the identity of their own personal Watford as the memorabilia, the programme covers, the photographs that clouded around the football club to form something worth a special place in anyone’s heart.

You won’t need to have a Terry Challis cartoon in front of you to conjure up an image of that familiar style in your mind’s eye: the pithy, witty and often rather insightful commentary on the week’s events, followed by the inevitable highlighting of the last game’s star player, name embossed underneath. In days before blanket coverage and instant highlights, it always seemed particularly vital after a distant, unseen away game, as much a part of the reportage as Oliver Phillips’ account alongside.

If the Watford Observer was essential reading for so many years, it was because there was an ethos behind it all. A commitment to quality, a strongly-opinionated but essentially constructive outlook, a sense of personality behind the names. It was an ethos that echoed the club in good times, but put it into rather awkward relief when standards at Vicarage Road slipped.

For me, Terry Challis’ name will always ring loudest in the largely barren nineties. It was one of the times when Watford Football Club most needed some wry commentary…but also when it needed the essentially positive tint he applied with great subtlety to his work, even at the gloomiest of times. It needed that ethos, an ethos that he so helped to shape and represent.

There’ll be many others with much more personal memories of the man behind the pen. But I can recall being among the editors of the You Are My Watford book, raising money for the Supporters Trust in past times of need. Along with lots of others, we asked Terry Challis for a contribution, hoping perhaps for a drawing or two that might enliven a couple of pages. Instead, we received an original two-page cartoon covering the entire history of the club in typically charming style. As one of my co-editors said, “He’s done us proud.”

Yeah, well. He did Watford proud. Thanks, Terry.

Terry Challis’ cartoon from the You Are My Watford book. Click on the thumbnails to enlarge. Enjoy.


1. Old Git - 07/10/2009

What sad news. Indeed ig, ‘those of a certain vintage’ will all find this news very sad. So good that you got this thoughtful piece up so quickly after the news broke. Terry really did capture the spirit of our quirky and loveable little club.

2. Pete Bradshaw - 07/10/2009

Thanks ig, RIP Terry Challis. A unique place in our hearts.

3. rous man - 07/10/2009

Thanks Terry R.I.P

4. Yorkshire - 07/10/2009

Happy Days…..

RIP Terry

5. Jeremy Clarkson - 07/10/2009

JC here

Going for a pee in my loo will mean even more now – never forgotten

(I have an original TC hanging in there, its quite apt, its called Welcome to The Den)

6. A Northern Hornet - 08/10/2009

Just clicking on those examples of his work brought it all back.
Well done that man – you’ll be fondly remembered.
Best wishes to those who knew him personally and will miss him for more than his work.

7. Luke Fairweather - 08/10/2009

I only knew him through his cartoons. When I was a kid, and much to my mum’s dismay, I had many pasted directly on my bedroom wall, using Gloy. Sadly this “shrine” was lost when our house was demolished by TRDC. (Long story)

I hope that a new collection can be posted, pasted, collected, published, or whatever. Who owns the (c) by the way? Wobby? WFC?

Sing along now… “One Terry Challis, there was only one Terry Challis…

A Watford Legend, surely?


8. Harefield Hornet - 09/10/2009

The passing of the great man indeed brought back many memories. He certainly had a unique way of capturing events good and bad. I’m not sure if anyone else remembers it but my all time favourite was the cartoon that followed a murderous away trip to Sheffield Wednesday in the old Division three in the late seventies. The coaches were bricked (several people were quite badly injured) and on late arrival at the ground (after the local plod tried to send us all home!) we were instructed to enter the old uncovered KOP end where there was no segregation. The mayhem that followed our 3-2 victory – the third being a penalty for good measure, will haunt me forever. Terry captured all this superbly in a brilliant cartoon with pictures of the Wednesday fans dragging their knuckles along the ground and food stands advertising “fresh roasted away fans caught at the last home game” and “visitor -burgers” ! – The man was simply a comic genius.

9. Ian Lay - 09/10/2009

I can honestly say that had a few tears rolling down my cheeks when I read the sad news on the WO website. A little bit of my childhood suddenly lept up and left me.

Bless you Terry for all those years of joy and laughter that so many of us have enjoyed. Never has the saying “He’ll be sorely missed” been so appropriate. You had more friends and admirers than you could possibly imagine. God speed.

10. Old Git - 09/10/2009

I remember that match well. I happened to be outside the ground when the WFC coach arrived and GT was met with an astonishing volley of abuse as he got off, from a rather alarming crowd of (sorry DM!) hatchet-faced morons. The policing was almost non-existent and the players had to run the gauntlet through a packed mass of savages to get to the player’s entrance.
Terry Challis got it exactly right.
Also, with reference to my defence of Steve Sherwood on the Cardiff trackback page, I remember Wednesday’s opening goal was the result of a very unconvincing punch by Shirley, that set up the Wednesday striker for an easy volley. I had forgotten that, until now. But he got better!

11. Simon in Oz - 12/10/2009

Terry Challis was a very important part of the Watford Experience as I remember it. His cartoons started before the Glory Days, then chronicled the days of Elton’s Taylor-made milk and honey era …and carried on (even after I, disloyally, left the country). In those pre-internet days of the late 80s and 90s I would wait impatiently for the odd copy of the WO sports pages that my brother would send me; Ollie’s words were always there, but I reckon I peeked at Terry’s cartoon first. They were Bacon & Eggs, or rather Jenkins & Blissett.
Good luck, mate. Terry, you made us laugh!

12. The Great Big O - 12/10/2009

I remember loving Terry Challis’s weekly cartoons as far back as the early 1970s – I can picture caricatures of the glamorous Billy Jennings as the star player week after week in 1974/5.

He pre-dated fanzines by more than a decade with his fan’s perspective and satirical humour. He probably even pre-dated ‘Foul’ magazine. In his lovable way, he was a trail-blazer.

Retrospectively, the fact that the club had a resident cartoonist – whether unofficial or official – is slightly strange. (Do any other clubs have them?) But I never noticed this at the time. At the time it was normal – and wonderful.

Terry Challis’s style and warmth is irreplaceable. But wouldn’t it be great if the tradition of having some kind of artistic chronicler continued?

Harefield Hornet - 15/10/2009


I have seen very similar cartoon strips following the progress of Wolves which were reprinted in their centenary history book (circa 1978) These were dated from the early 20th Century up to the 1950’s. Maybe a young TC saw these or similar from other clubs and they possibly could have been the influence behind his work.

13. Tim Turner - 13/10/2009

A few years ago, the WO mooted the idea of reprinting Terry’s classic allegorical poster about GT’s Watford. They asked for expressions of interest via the website, and I duly emailed back. I never heard any more about it.

It strikes me that now would be a good time to revive the idea. I reckon a fair few of us would buy the poster now, and any profits could be used for a suitably good cause.

14. Anders - 16/10/2009

That is a very good idea Tim.
I would love to have that poster on the wall.
Does anyone know if there is a high resolution version online somewhere? I was only able to find this one on the Watford Museum website:

15. linda butcher - 26/10/2010

hi there
Quick update for you on Terry’s work-we have now published a website for his fans to purchase and view his art work-with news of an upcoming exhibition of Terry’s art and a feedback forum to help us guage interest in the poster re-issue etc and any other exhibition interest
Linda (Terry’s step daughter)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: