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
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.