Below is a review of Watford FC book Tales from the Vicarage by trainee sports reporter and Hornets fan Colin Cowan.
Hornets fan and journalist Lionel Birnie has pulled together a number of talented writers to produce a Watford FC book which is a must-have for any Golden Boys followers and a perfect stocking filler.
Tales from the Vicarage consists of 11 authors from different sections of the media and is an enjoyable read which appeals to all - if one chapter doesn't take your fancy then there are plenty more to choose from.
This is the fourth Watford book from Birnie, who used to work at the Watford Observer, following the success of Four Seasons, Enjoy The Game and The 100 Greatest Watford wins.
The book starts with a chapter by former England and Watford goalkeeper David James, where talks about his struggles whilst in the Hornets youth team. He also reveals the identity of the club he supported as a boy, which might shock and disappoint some readers. I really enjoyed this chapter and it is a great way to start to the book.
Simon Burnton of the Guardian looks at a period of considerable change at Vicarage Road; with a change to the colour of the kit, the badge and also the club's nickname. It is an interesting and time-sensitive chapter considering what has recently happened at Cardiff City. I was not aware of why Watford are now called the Hornets and Simon Burton's section would be worth reading just for that story alone..
What would it be like if Graham Taylor released an autobiography? Could Graham Taylor actually be God? Olly Wickens writes a fictional version of what he thinks Taylor would write in an excellent chapter. This is one of my favourite chapters in the book and it will bring a smile to any Watford fan's face.
Watford have supporters around the world and many are unable to attend matches at all, let alone on a regular basis. John Anderson discusses how moving away from the area early on in his life and also his work has resulted in a lack of visits to Vicarage Road. I found myself relating to this chapter in particular as I spent all of my childhood in different countries so had very few trips to Vicarage Road.
In a fascinating chapter, Sky Sports News presenter Adam Leventhal interviewed two former Watford managers who split opinion following their departures. Current Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers and Cardiff City boss Malky Mackay discuss their time at Vicarage Road and their subsequent departures. One of the men admits he made a mistake and should have stayed for longer.
This great chapter may change people’s perceptions of the duo and is one of the best sections in the book in my opinion. Many fans may see that it includes both Rodgers and Mackay and feel that they don’t want to read on but I encourage you to do so as you may be in for a surprise or two.
Former Watford press officer Andrew French discusses what it was like to be around the club in the 1999/2000 season when the club were in the Premier ship. In a great behind the scenes view, French reveals what it was like following and reporting on the Golden Boys home and away in the so called 'promised land'. This is another great look at how the club is run behind the scenes, especially as they prepared for their first season in the Premiership. I found this a very interesting chapter as it tells the story of what wasn’t published during the 1999/2000 season.
Tim Turner talks about how important the community spirit is at the club. Being part of the Watford family is vital and it is one of the reasons so many people come back. Turner writes that you are never alone at Vicarage Road. This chapter shows how important the club's family values are to all of its fans and how welcoming the club is to new supporters. This chapter shows the real reason about what supporting Watford is really about and is an excellent read.
Former Watford Observer sports editor Oliver Phillips looks at the last six decades of the Hornets' history. In a chapter that has in-depth information on the history of the Hertfordshire side, Phillips looks at a time when he was watching the side as a school boy right up to when he was covering them for the Watford Observer. Having not been around for many of these seasons, it was a great read to see what the club was like before I supported the team. For those who followed the club during that era, it is a great nostalgic read.
Kevin Affleck looks at Aidy Boothroyd's reign when he was covering the club for the Watford Observer. This chapter is a great insight in to what happened behind the scenes during the latest Premier League season and reveals what went on off the pitch. This was probably my favourite chapter and is one that I would highly recommend.
The author of the book, Lionel Birnie, looks at the last time Italian's were involved at Watford prior to the recent takeover by the Pozzo family. Birnie talks to the one of the success stories of the Gianluca Vialli reign - defender and European Cup winner Filippo Galli. This is an interesting look at the Vialli season and how the Hornets dealt with life after Graham Taylor.
As a producer at the BBC, Stuart Hutchinson has spent hours searching for Watford-related footage in the BBC archive. Hutchinson talks about how this became an obsession for him and it is another good chapter.
Tales from the Vicarage is another excellent book by Birnie and it is a must have for any Watford fans. It is an excellent read and reveals some exclusive information that Hornets fans will find intriguing. This would make an excellent Christmas present for any Watford fan and I highly recommend adding it to your list for Santa.
The book is £9.99 and is available now in Waterstone's in The Harlequin centre or from lionelbirnie.com/books.