Main Menu
What's New
99/00: Reports:

FA Carling Premiership, 31/9/99
Coventry City
On telly
By Martin Blanc

I've been watching Watford for twenty-one years now, and I don't know what took me so long, but last week I had my first ever dream about playing for the Horns. I didn't - in the dream - have any more ability than I do in real life, but I still got picked by GT to play right-half, I think. And all I remember of the game was that we were 2-1 up (save the wise-ass comments till you hear the rest of the story) and I was tackled, but managed to loop the ball over the opposition's heads so it landed on the edge of their box, from where our centre-forward slotted away a sweet half-volley in the right corner for a 3-1 win. But the thing is, who was our striker? Which marksman did I dream was playing on our side, and doing so well?

Skip the obvious answers. Skip the stupid answers. It was Alun Briggs, a kid I haven't seen for twelve years, and who I was at school with for eleven years before that.

See, I couldn't come up with a more realistic solution, even in my subconscious. Had to dredge the mucky riverbed of my mind for anyone that I believed would do just what Briggsy did.

Where were you yesterday, Alun, when we needed you?

Because all we saw were some more sweetly executed practice pitch moves, and I bet Tommy Smith can slot them away just fine when he's playing against Chris Day. And why's that? Cos there aren't TV cameras around. Oh yes, there are bigger jinxes and obstacles to overcome than Magnus Hedman (not that we really got anywhere near as close to him for the rest of the game...). Bloody Sky bloody TV. It was only cos we had our minds on bigger things at Wembley that we weren't sunk before we started then too.

So we lost the game when Mark Williams was sent off against the Reds. There's nothing more to say. We know what the standard of our second team is - if not, just check out the Reserves League table. We don't need to be reminded that the third team is only a couple of months' fitness training above the ranks of WIFC, or maybe Alun Briggs himself (who to the best of my recollection never really put it about on the football field when we were high-voiced buddies).

We strived, we fluttered, and I hope Charlie Miller picked up an injury in the first half, otherwise there was something very skewed about GT's thinking in pulling him off then, since Ngonge just did what he does so well - move like the Roadrunner, then fall off a cliff when he's in their box.

Sorry, it just doesn't bear cool analysis. We were exposed, in terms of ability and strategy, and crucially in terms of ability to come back not just from being two goals down again, but from losing a game we thought we could win last week, in a game we had to get something from.

Oddly, the only bit of uncannily accurate foresight I had (since Alun Briggs played no part at Highfield Road) occurred in two moments while watching the game. I said to my mate at half-time, 'Two-nil and Hadji hasn't even scored yet.' And when he did, my mate says, 'McAllister hasn't scored either.' And I said, 'He'll get the penalty when Palmer handles.'

All right, I'd have got better odds betting on France to trounce the All Blacks, but still - it was live, it wasn't a repeat, so that's impressive.

But that's one advantage about telly. And at least on telly you can turn it off.