In July 2016, Colin Mace sat down at a microphone and started to read the first Hornet Heaven story ‘The Turnaround’.
I’ll never forget the moment. Colin’s narration was spellbinding.
Five years on, there have been 69 Hornet Heaven stories.
We’ve covered styles and genres as diverse as supernatural thriller, comedy, radio play, horror, musical, post-apocalyptic road movie, and children’s storybook. We’ve created special stories for Halloween and April Fool’s Day. We’ve celebrated Watford’s appearance in the FA Cup Final and promotion back to the Premier League.
The conceptual constant has always been the idea of an afterlife for Watford fans. But the tonal and emotional constant has been Colin’s telling of the stories. He’s brought warmth, lightness, depth, gravity, joy, sorrow and humanity.
We’ve had a hugely enjoyable five years. We got to create a live performance of one of the stories inside Vicarage Road. We won an award at the British Podcast Awards. We exceeded 100,000 downloads. We got emails from listeners telling us how much the stories mean to them.
The emails were the best thing. Not because it means we have fans; that was never the point of creating the podcast. The point was always to offer a different way for Watford fans to feel their love for the club more deeply and strongly. The stories only mean a lot to people when Watford FC matters a huge amount to them.
Over the five years, lots of people have helped make Hornet Heaven what it is. Colin, centrally, of course. Jon Moonie was vital in getting us started and providing expertise and inspiration. We’ve had stories written or co-written by Colin Mace, Mike Smart and Ed Wicken. We’ve had Stephen John Davis sing for us. Geoff Wicken and Steve Joy gave us our theme tune. Andy Barker gave us our original look. Zak Annette and Patch at ID Audio provided us with exceptional sound quality. And, at script stage, we’ve had a bank of Watford fans providing feedback and quality control: Geoff Wicken, David Harrison, Mark Harrowell, Ed Wicken, Steve Freedman, Colin Payne, Nick Catley. Throughout, Rich Walker and Dave Messenger at the club have been super-supportive.
A huge thank you to everyone for their time, effort, kindness and love.
To mark our fifth anniversary, we’ve got five more episodes coming soon. They’re intended, as usual, to be entertaining, thought-provoking, funny and moving. I hope they’ll help people feel the Hornet Love.
Olly Wicken, July 2021