Girton, Cambridgeshire born centre forward Vic Watson began his football career with local team Girton in 1912 and played for Cambridge Town in 1913, joining Peterborough & Fletton United in 1914. He also played for Brotherhood Engineering Works, his works team in Peterborough. After the First World War he joined Wellingborough Town in 1919 where he was spotted by Second Division West Ham United and signed for £50 in March 1920, The Hammers bringing him in to provide cover for Syd Puddefoot.
His Football League debut came at Cardiff City in September 1920, and he played 9 times for the first team in his debut season, scoring twice. From September 1921 he became a regular in the first eleven, and he scored 27 goals in their 1922-23 campaign which both saw them clinch promotion to the First Division as Second Division runners up, and reach the 1923 “White Horse” FA Cup Final, where they were beaten 2-0 by Bolton Wanderers in front of at least 200,000 spectators (some estimates put the crowd at up to 300,000). It was also the season of his first West Ham hat-trick, when he scored all three goals in a 3-1 win at Coventry City in December 1922, and his first 4 goal haul, which came in a 5-1 win at Crystal Palace at the end of March 1923.
Watson is the West Ham United’s record goalscorer with 326 goals in 505 appearances, 298 League goals and 28 in FA Cup ties. Of his League goals, 203 were from 295 First Division appearances. He scored six goals in an 8-2 home win against Leeds on 9th February 1929, he also scored four goals on three occasions, and managed 13 other hat-tricks while at West Ham.
Watson was first capped by England in a 2-2 draw against Wales at Ninian Park in March 1923, scoring England’s second goal in a 2-2 draw, and after withdrawing from an international against Belgium he scored on his second cap the next month in a 2-2 draw against Scotland at Hampden Park.
His 37 goals in the 1926-27 campaign helped West Ham to finish sixth in the League Championship and in 1929-30 he scored an astonishing 50 goals in 44 appearances as West Ham finished seventh, a total which included four goals against Leeds United in an FA Cup tie and three other hat-tricks. He was recalled to the England team after a gap of seven years, scoring twice in a 5-2 win over Scotland at Wembley in April 1930, winning his final two caps in England’s May European tour, when he played in draws against Germany and Austria.
He struggled to hold down a regular place in the team in 1934-35, despite a burst of 7 goals in 4 games in December 1934, and he played his last match against Manchester United in March 1935, before joining Southampton in June 1935. He had a single season at The Dell, scoring 14 goals in 37 appearances, including a hat-trick in a 7-2 win over Nottingham Forest in February 1936 before retiring at the end of the season.
His nephew Harry Cranfield played for Fulham and Bristol Rovers immediately after the Second World War.
NB in the photograph taken at Upton Park on 6th October 1928, Watson shields the ball from Liverpool left back Robert Done. The match finished a 1-1 draw.