One of the aims of Tales from the Vicarage Live was “to stand alone as a great night out for Watford fans”. Judging by the reception the show received at the Palace Theatre on Sunday evening, it achieved that goal.
A 606-strong audience packed into the Watford venue to listen and laugh as Hornets fan and Sky Sports News broadcaster Adam Leventhal led a 90-minute chat-show-style night of good natured and often humorous conversation with Luther Blissett, Aidy Boothroyd and Sean Dyche as memories aplenty were shared.
Some members of the audience may have left disappointed at the lack of revelations from the guests, but the event was not intended to be a fans’ forum. It was an evening to be entertained.
Explaining how the idea for a live show came about, Tales from the Vicarage editor Lionel Birnie said: “Adam and I had discussed the idea of doing some sort of Tales from the Vicarage Live to promote the book.
“With Waterstone’s having closed, it’s been a real challenge to keep the books in the public eye, so we felt we had to do something different. But we didn’t want to create something that was just a 90-minute long advert for the book. We wanted the live event to stand alone as a great night out for Watford fans.”
It can be justifiably argued the show played to a captive audience, but with any new venture there is always the potential for things to go wrong.
But if Birnie and Leventhal had any pre-night concerns, they were soon to evaporate after the presenter shrewdly got the audience to chant ‘You ‘Orns’.
As Birnie subsequently observed, that helped to relax the audience, who were then treated to a host of anecdotes and reflections covering everything from managing and playing in the top flight, Dyche’s philosophical views on being sacked after the Pozzo takeover – “It’s business, I live in that world and know how cut throat it can be” – to the Burnley boss praising the man who ended his Watford playing career, but then brought him back as a coach, for some of the “processes” and “structures” he had put in place at the club.
Blissett, who brought along the Golden Boot he received when Watford finished runners-up in old Division One, reminisced about joining the club and memories of playing under Graham Taylor, while Boothroyd spoke fondly of the Hornets’ achievements during his tenure but also acknowledged he had made mistakes, including admitting he wanted “to fight the world” over criticism of the team’s style of play as they tried unsuccessfully bounce back to the Premier League at the first attempt.
With Malky Mackay, who was meant to be on the panel but pulled out for family reasons, having agreed to appear at a future Tales from the Vicarage Live, plans are already in place for another offering.
But such was the success of the first event and the format used, there is no reason why it cannot become a regular fixture for Hornets fans if those behind it are able and willing to continue to make it work.