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BLIND, STUPID AND DESPERATE
 
99/00: Reports:

FA Carling Premiership, 1/4/00
Everton
versus
Watford
 
A great victory
By Kyffin Jones

On paper, this was a difficult away fixture. The (supposedly) second-best team in a big city can always be formidable opposition. Consider games against Manchester City, Glasgow Celtic or Bristol City (??). Tricky. I expected the same at Goodison, but in the end it was easy. Embarrassingly easy.

We were well organised, and able, once again, to field our strongest side. The 'Orns' preparation for the match was excellent, with the full squad warming up in Liverpool city centre from mid-morning onwards. Final pre-match briefing was held in Doctor Duncan's, near Lime Street. Then on to Goodison, in a fleet of hijacked taxis.

Nice to hear "Z-Cars" being played for us. I wonder why they did that?

The 'Orns lined up confidently from the start in an attacking formation, with strength in depth all across the side, as befits a team challenging for the top honours in the league. The home side found themselves a goal behind before they had even taken their seats, as we hit straight at them with "You're supposed to be at home". Despite Blue protests that we had started before they were ready, the goal was allowed to stand. 1-0 to the 'Orns. This was followed, moments later, by a bizarre incident in which the main contingent of Norfolk Horns began singing "Hello, hello, Captain Birdseye" at their isolated member on the left wing. The referee ruled that Sponsors Night in-jokes constituted grounds for awarding an own goal. 1-1, before the game had even kicked off on the pitch.

The early stages of the game saw us passing with skill, but to no great effect, with "We're the 'Orns", "Who are you?", "Who let the 'Orns out?", "Scum" and "Luton reject". Gradually, though, we realised Everton were not the opponents we had feared, and we started to take control. We put the ball in the net with a burst of "Sing when you're thieving", only for it to be ruled offside.

Less than a minute later, though, the 'Orns took the lead. A delicate lob from the half-way line - a lone voice chiming out "You've probably stolen my car". Poetry in a football shirt. Beautiful.

Further good efforts of "We can't tell what you're saying", "Oh, Allan Smart is wonderful" and "We're going to win 4-3" all went close, but there were no more goals before the break.

In the second period, the 'Orns took the game to the home side with renewed vigour. Controversially, we received a booking for "You're even worse than Man United", on the grounds that NO-ONE is worse than Man United. Fair point, I suppose. "Plastic supporters" and "You what?" at last - at long last - provoked a response from the home side, but their feeble effort of "Going down" was contemptuously swatted aside with jeers and ironic applause. A superb "You'll Never Walk Alone" (real words) from the 'Orns midfield would have counted, but for the strikers being ruled offside and interfering with play by changing the words to "Sign on". That's just so 1981, lads.

The 'Orns made the game safe with a devastating onslaught in the 68th minute. "Shall we help you sing a song?", "Everton, Everton, Everton", and then, from the Norfolk Horns, making amends for their earlier own goal, "Same old Watford, taking the piss". 3-1, 4-1, 5-1. Game over.

After that, the 'Orns were rampant. The rout continued to the final whistle, with further scores from the delightful "Oh, ah, marijuana", "You weren't singing anyway", "Loyal supporters" and the wonderful "We can see you sneaking out", sung, with perfect timing, just as Hughes (S) got his name onto the scoresheet.

Final score: 9-1 to the 'Orns.

This was a great victory. The best of the season. Better, even, than the away wins at Old Trafford and Highfield Road. The 'Orns were nothing short of magnificent. We thoroughly deserved to win by such a convincing margin. And yet, it was a hollow victory. It was all too easy. The opposition just wasn't in the same class as us. I can begin to understand why supporters of some Premiership sides have become so blasť about their teams' performances on the field. Much more of this and we, too, will find ourselves sitting waiting for the victories to be delivered to us on a plate, week after week. We must guard against arrogance and complacency.

On the football field? We lost, of course. Does it matter?

"We'll be back as Champions", we sang.

We already are.