Former Watford FC player and local hero Luther Blissett is set to become a Freeman of the Borough in recognition of his contributions to charity, the community and the fight against racism.
Published: 10 March 2021
The granting of Freeman status is the greatest honour which the council can bestow upon an individual or corporate entity. Watford Borough Council has appointed many Freemen over the years, at present, there are three Freemen: Sir Elton John and Norman Tyrwhitt and Mavis Tyrwhitt.
Throughout his years in Watford Luther has been strongly involved in community events and projects. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, he has organised fundraising events, promoted other people’s events like the Mayors virtual fundraising quiz for the Covid Appeal and attended many raffles and auctions with Watford & Three Rivers Trust.
Luther has also been an enormous help in making Watford a dementia-friendly town, speaking up about his experiences of living with a family member with dementia and promoting Golden Memories, a reminiscence programme for people living with low to moderate dementia and their carers at Watford Football Club.
Not to mention his outstanding career as a professional footballer. Luther holds Watford’s all-time records for appearances and goals, having played 503 games and scoring 186 goals. He was also the first black footballer to score a hat-trick for the English National Team.
Luther has used his role model status as a football player to help get across the anti-racism message and educate the younger generation about racism. He has become a leading figure in the fight against racism and not just in football but within the whole community in Watford. Luther has been involved in Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC) since the late 1990’s when he was assistant Manager to Graham Taylor at Watford Football Club.
Elected Mayor of Watford, Peter Taylor said: “If anyone deserves to have the honour of Freedom of the Borough, it is Luther Blissett. Over many years Luther has been involved in countless community events and projects. He is a Watford legend both on and off the pitch.
“Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic he has worked with me to raise funds for local charities, he’s co-hosted the Big Bold Community Quiz and taken part in raffles, auctions and a host of other activities all aimed at supporting the Watford community. He has also worked with a number of other local charities including supporting Veterans in Watford and Hertfordshire, raising awareness about Prostate Cancer and done so much to help make Watford a more dementia-friendly place. This is very well deserved recognition for his years of service.”
Luther Blissett said: “I am overwhelmed to be given this honour from Watford Borough Council. From the age of 17, I played for Watford FC, I was their first full England cap and won a golden boot for Europe. But what made that time even more special was our town and the wonderful golden-hearted people in it. My football family right here in Watford.
I was taught by the Boss, Graham Taylor OBE, that the debt you owe people for supporting you as a footballer cannot be measured. He brought us up to understand that everything we did was for the local community, from when we stepped over that white line to enjoy the privilege of playing a match – to the way we conducted ourselves. So to receive this honour as he did, to follow in the footsteps of that great man and manager who did so much for our town and our football club is simply a dream come true. I hope I can continue to “make my mark” for you all to the gold standard Graham set.”