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FA Carling Premiership, 15/1/00
Tall tales
By Pete Fincham

When I was about five, I went to visit my relations in Ireland, and one day we were watching the TV and Liverpool were playing. My distant aunt said "Oh look, there's your cousin Ronnie!" as Ronnie Whelan picked up the ball and made one of his customary runs through the midfield.

From then on I always looked for Liverpool's results, and even to this day prefer it when they win the Liverpool derby or any major Cup match. I lived in Devon at the time, a decision made by my parents in 1979 thinking it to be a fine choice of place to relax and bring up kids. What the brochure forgot to say was that Okehampton is the back of beyond, where all the kids are related to one another and the adults all stink. The place is educationally backward, and from the age of about five a kid should know how to sheep dip.

The only team I loved was Watford, even though my father's attempts at getting me to support Tottenham nearly succeeded with their 1981 FA Cup triumph. However, I was faced with a problem. Liverpool was now family and, instead of getting kicked to bits in the playground for being a Hornet, I would be a hero as My Cousin Played For Liverpool! I didn't know what to do. I had never even see Watford on TV, but they were still my team; my uncle always went and my other Watford-based relatives were babbling on about a young prospect called something Blissett!

In the end, the choice was not a choice anymore. I went to Watford v Cambridge and forever was hooked. My blood was yellow and, despite Ronnie being family, I was a Hornet, until I die.

Thought: Sometimes the playground just isn't the end of the world!