It’s an image that gained attention from all corners of the globe when it was broadcast to millions worldwide.

Such was its magnitude, the Premier League now have a mural of it at their central London headquarters.

And it all started with a group of half a dozen volunteers from Hertfordshire.

Proud Hornets are Watford’s LGBT+ supporters group. They are best known for organising a rainbow mosaic alongside The 1881 Movement during the Hornets’ dedicated Rainbow Laces match against Manchester City in December, which was shown live on Sky Sports.

As the players walked out before kick-off, around 7,000 fans in The Rookery Stand held coloured cards in the air to create the striking display and show their support for inclusivity in football.

“We were able to get that broadcast worldwide. A lot of prep went into achieving that, it was six weeks in the making,” explains Peter Quinn, a lifelong Watford fan and member of Proud Hornets.

“The proudest moment for me so far was how the display was received. We got interview requests from all over the world; Mexico, Brazil, Japan. It was quite difficult to get that all in.

“To see that display at the Premier League headquarters, it really made me proud of what we have achieved as a small group. It’s an incredible image.”

Since forming in 2017, Proud Hornets have grown significantly. The group boast more than one-thousand followers on social media and regularly meet up, getting together before each home game at a pub close to their beloved Vicarage Road. They also organise away trips, where they meet up with other LGBT+ fan groups.

“We want to engage with others, not segregate ourselves off,” says Peter.

Proud Hornets pride themselves on being inclusive and want to help make their home ground - and football in general – an inclusive space where everyone feels safe to be themselves.

In line with this, membership is not exclusive to the LGBT+ community. Anyone who agrees with the group’s aims can join for free.  

Away from football, they have taken part in both London and Hertfordshire Pride. Their work has also seen them nominated for Watford Borough Council’s Audentior awards, which recognise and celebrate outstanding dedication shown by organisations and individuals in the town.

“I think it’s just a realisation of what we have managed to achieve in quite a short space of time. Speaking to other groups, it’s taken them far longer to do what we have done,” Peter says.

“The aim is to keep on growing. We want more integration with the club.”

 Words: Steve Jones