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FA Carling Premiership, 1/4/00
You ashamed? Me neither
By Asher Peters

In the long-term, the wisdom of our getting promoted is not in doubt - even if we don't go up again within the two years of 'parachute money', we will still have benefited from the prudently spent extra cash. In the short term though, even though the moments of genuinely gratifying football have been more regular than results would suggest, the support we have given has made this season for me. Or more precisely, the support on away trips. Thus it was that, losing heavily to a pretty average side by supremely poor goals, we were singing, "Let's all have a disco.'

Back at Lime Street station, still as scaffolding-scarred as the summer. It must have been a pretty terrible building in the first place to warrant all that renovation. Searching for the right bus, the vast amount of signs not bothering to mention the club or ground as destination. Entering the quaint, wooden warren of an away area, add "Z Cars" and it was almost like being back in the East stand. But this was not to be an old-skool, vintage Watford performance - our good form evaporated and, as so often this season, we contrived to be just about worse than lacklustre opposition.

Both fans and players were slow to get going - the difference essentially being that the fans did eventually get going - and two simple headed goals created our customary mountain to climb. Barracking Pembridge was having the undesired effect, his first half performance being the only time I have seen him play as well as an international ought. When you let the ball swing across your penalty three times in succession, however, each time failing to pick up the opposite winger, you can make any team look good.

In my firm but fair, voice of reason moments around Christmas time I was letting everyone who'd listen know that only Kennedy of our absentees could make a crucial difference to our side. Luckily, I was wrong. Smart looks every inch a Premiership player now, and I can only sympathise with Carlisle fans, Michael Knighton's choice of profit over progress looking more sinister every day. His finish from the through ball of Tommy Smith, the other to emerge with credit from a desert of a half, gave us a little hope.

We've not won after trailing all season, as I remember, but Everton were hardly towering; would we return from the break fired up and haul ourselves off the bottom of the league? The little kid sitting next to me asked me what the last line of the "It's nice to know you're here" chant was. I decided I'd rather not answer either question.

Darren Ward came on at half time to justify the glowing reports from Rangers fans: his tussles at either end with players old enough to be his Dad were encouraging. Also introduced was Charlie Miller, who I am starting to really feel for; like Hazan, his immense skill and vision is decisively offset by other deficiencies. Harsh, but footballers this out of shape have to be either Ferenc Puskas or a goalie.

The second half continued in a similar vein - we were using too little of the pitch, trying to thread needles with passes, against which Everton's simple triangles looked slick. We had to entertain ourselves, and after the usual "You'll never get a job" (as lazily prejudiced, not to mention hackneyed, as the homophobic Elton John chants and greeted with the same deserved derision), we set about taking out some of the frustrations, and accumulated wisdom, of a season of silent opposition fans on Everton. It won't look like much in print, but helping Everton to sing by starting a chant for them was one of the funniest moments this season. Still they slumbered.

Again we gave ourselves hope, more by their weakness than any resurgence, Micah Hyde scoring a well-controlled volley. This is a mantle he has taken over from his midfield partner, who was having such a woeful game that Bonnot, left on the bench must have felt slighted. Angry Man let his xenophobia loose, but Johnson is so obviously better than this, and positivity is the only way out of such a dire season. Despite non-stop singing, though, the necessary barnstorming finish was not forthcoming, we were defending as much as attacking when the fourth goal went in. Description would hurt, so it's enough to say that it had a season's worth of avoidability and yet supreme inevitability. I would say something about having only lost really poorly to poor teams (7-3 on aggregate to this lot?) but a look at our Easter fixtures would recommend caution.

Our vocal fans, our moments of style, our attitude, our honesty, our manager - we have been a credit to the Premiership. Let's leave the embarrassment to others.