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FA Carling Premiership, 14/8/99
From a distance
By Mike Scofield

What do you do, when you can't go to an away match ? When you really do agree that your family comes first, how do you plan things so that you'll always be aware of what is happening ?

First. When your wife says "Help Kendra get dressed, will you ?". Say "Oh, all right" with a resigned tone, whilst planning all along that the daughter in question will only be wearing one thing today. The yellow and red shirt and red shorts (that she actually likes wearing anyway).

Sing the first Watford song of the day with her. "We love you Watford, we do...." . Plan on more singing later.

Next, give the wife loads of co-operation in preparing for the birthday party. Make sure you get her to agree that everything is done hours in advance. That there are no last minute niggly items to take care of later. Take daughter out to the park for a swing, and sing more Watford songs to get in the mood.

Lunch. Choose the seat at the kitchen table that faces the TV in the corner. Watch Lineker and co.

Go out for your long bike ride (or run, if your knees are not recovering from injury like me and Stocksy) early enough to ensure that you are back for the start of the game on 3CR / IRC. Make sure that the batteries in your pocket FM radio actually work before you set out on the road (twat).

When it seems like the headwind will delay you until way after 3pm, bloody well work harder up them hills to ensure you get round the course in under 1hr 40 mins. Then it's off the bike with shaky legs and into the shower.

Get that radio on.

Position yourself so that there is a 3CR radio in every room you are likely to have to visit this afternoon. Study, bedroom, kitchen, living room. Hallway ? Bugger, no other radios to be had - turn the sound up ? No, don't draw attention to the fact that you are a sad bastard who can't do without football for one day.

3pm on the dot. 1 hour before they all arrive, tell daughter to come and play football in the living room. Convince her that it will be fun. Get that radio on. Hear the Kop boom out their anthem. Wish you were there.

Continue the game with daughter. Keep her interested with yet more Watford songs.

Go into the dining room to get her a book when she is bored. Commentator shouting. What's going on ? "Mooooonnneeeyyyy 1-0"! Whooohooo! Hug daughter. Laugh together. Sing "1-0 to the Golden Boys", make sure she joins in. Laugh again. Sing again. Say "nothing, dear" when wife asks what's going on.

Answer the door to visitors after half time whistle with a smile on face.

Casually turn off the radio in living room and turn on radio in kitchen. Generously offer to get visitors drinks (from kitchen). Offer copious refills. Drink thirty-three year old wine and savour ! Keep listening.

Do not get worried when, after hearing that Page was booked, the next sound bite to reach your ears says "Watford down to 10 men". Do not immediately draw the conclusion that Page was sent off seconds later for another foul. Be relieved when Johnno's name is mentioned and a sub comes on. Phew.

Be happy when several visiting male relatives - not football fans at all - want to listen with you in the kitchen while wives and children play in the living room. Get more drinks for visitors. Keep listening. Laugh as Liverpool spoon yet another attempt over the bar. Be happy as Day makes yet another save.

Bite your lip, as Palmer misses. Mooney misses. Keenedy misses. Mooney misses. Jeff Winter says five minutes to go. No!

Smile as Blackpool make it 3-2 at Luton.

Get worried when everyone decides to come into the kitchen to talk loudly. Be ecstatic when Robbo clatters Berger and the final whistle goes.

Turn radio off and smile a lot. End of a long day.