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
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
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
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.