FOOTBALL writer Mick Dennis, author of recently-published book The Team, was the special guest at a book club meeting.
The plush surroundings of the directors' suite beneath the main stand at Vicarage Road was the setting for the second book club organised by BBC Three Counties Radio, Hertfordshire Library Service and the Watford and Three Rivers Learning Partnership.
Mick, who was sports editor of the Evening Standard and now writes for the Daily Express, for which he covered the World Cup this year, told the gathered group that last time he was in the room it was as a reporter waiting to interview players at the end of a match.
The Team is part of the Quick Read series of books, aimed at readers who lack confidence. It is run in partnership with BBC Raw - a campaign committed to improving the reading and writing of the nation.
"All of my life I have believed that football could be a power for good," Mick said.
"I'm also aware that clubs do their bit for the community. Watford led the way in that. "Football used to be a frightening place and a lot of things that people take for granted now, started here."
Mick explained that, when he was younger, all he used to read were books about football. Now he still has no qualms about reading football books and believes that there should be no place for snobbery when it comes to such books.
"I learnt a bit of social and political history from football books," the seasoned journalist said.
"If I had not read them I would not have read anything. I have never been snobbish about that. I have no hesitation sitting on a plane or a beach with a football book." The Team is divided into 11 chapters, each featuring a character from the world of football, including a mascot, manager, player and club chief executive. Mick said that he had "wonderful, wonderful fun" writing it and is now "very proud" to see it in print.
He said: "This book will be on somebody's bookshelf when I have died. What I write for a newspaper is out of date by lunchtime."
Toby Friednar from Three Counties Radio said that BBC Raw is one of the most valuable tools that the corporation has. He said: "Reading is a gift that people can take away with them and develop for the rest of their lives. Raw is an incredible project and it's a privilege to be a part of it."
Lyn Telford, Learning Partnership co-ordinator for Watford and Three Rivers, was also enthusiastic about the book club project and Raw campaign.
She said: "We are trying to encourage people who can read but who do not read very often. "It's early days yet but we are looking to get more people involved."