Watford Observer: Tales from the Vicarage Banner

Many Watford fans have already read the second volume of Tales from the Vicarage. If you haven’t yet, I’d thoroughly recommend buying a copy because it’s a diverse, informative, entertaining and often humourous selection of stories that achieves what editor Lionel Birnie states is one of its aims in his introduction – it will “appeal to Watford fans of all ages”.

Building on the successful first volume first published in October 2012, this book uses the same tried and tested format of choosing a variety of Hornets-related topics as the basis for interviews, reflections, anecdotes plus a chapter of factually-related fiction penned by Olly Wicken.

The first two chapters were written by Birnie and he selected a sure-fire winner of a subject to start the book with; the incredible never-to-be-forgotten events of Sunday, May 12, 2013 – “It’s important not to forget your handbag when invading a football pitch” – before examining last season in greater depth, reflecting on how worries and fears were to be replaced by mounting optimism and dreams.

The fact those dreams were ultimately ended at a sun-drenched Wembley dovetails perfectly into the second chapter; a fascinating insight into the character, determination and resilience of a striker who was to make his name after leaving Vicarage Road. He’s still playing incidentally.

But enough of the chronology. Tales from the Vicarage isn’t one of those books. I read it over two nights – albeit a week apart – but part of its appeal is, like volume one, you can dip into it when you have a free hour, read a chapter, put it down and come back to it another day and not lose track of where you’d got to.

If you want to relive what still rates as the longest night of my football-watching or reporting life, then turn to chapter nine and Matt Rowson will take you back to St Andrew’s and ‘that’ 1999 Play-off semi-final.

Whether by accident or design – I suspect the latter – fast-forward four chapters and Rowson’s co-editor of the superb Blind, Stupid and Desperate website in the 1990s, Ian Grant, picks up off the back of that Birmingham City penalty shoot-out win to briefly dip into the future, before transporting you back to some bleak and miserable times earlier in that decade.

One campaign is described as “feeling as strained as a constipated rhino”. I won’t give away the game for those of you who haven’t read it but I defy anyone not to smile at Grant’s take on the gloom as it unfolds on the pages before you.

I could easily go on – Nigel Gibbs surprised me with a couple of his inclusions in his Dream Team while I found Paolo Tomaselli’s chapter Meet the Pozzos – a section of which can be read below – fascinating.

Whether you chose to read it in one go, or randomly select which chapter to read first, Tales from the Vicarage II takes its place among the growing list of ‘must have’ books on Watford FC. I, like many others I expect, look forward to the publication of volume three.

Watford Observer readers can get Tales from the Vicarage 2 with free delivery by clicking the banner above.

The book is also on sale at Watford Museum, Lower High Street, Watford and Londis, 91-93 Vicarage Road, Watford.