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04/05: Reports:

League Cup Semi Final First Leg, 11/01/05, 8.00pm
Billy No Mates finds one
By Paul Perkins

After having parked my car outside the Watford Observer's building in Caxton Way near Greenhill Crescent, handy for boarding yesterday's coach, the thought did cross my mind that I could become a journalist for the day.

Therefore I left Watford yesterday with three hopes: 1) the chance that I would actually be sitting next to someone I knew when I got to the ground; 2) the wish that I was going to watch a great Watford performance; and 3) maybe, just maybe I might get a report printed on the BSaD site. After meeting fellow City 'Orn Pete Bradshaw at the ground when I found my seat, two out of my three hopes were realised.

To get my fellow coach travellers in the right mood, I distributed twenty-five printed copies of ig's report of the only away victory of the Premiership season, with the hope that I won't be sued for copyright breaches by BSaD's lawyers Sue, Grabbit and Run of The Parade, Watford.

It's a sharp learning curve writing your first match report and after getting home at 5.00am this morning I was still so charged with adrenaline that I typed up a report at home and burned four rashers of bacon into the bargain. Proof positive that I (like most men) cannot do two things at once, and using the PC and the grill at the same time proved beyond me.

After reading my report I threw it away as it was an attempt to give a full, kick by kick report of the game which I will leave to the experts - in my experience, BSaD readers prefer more "outside the box" summaries so I started again (at work!).

Rather than lick the windows for five long hours, I brought a quiz with me which the coach seemed to like and the hundred questions I tested them with (including what does Spion Kop actually mean and what was the highest aggregate scoreline of last weekend's FA cup matches) did fend off the boredom and, I hope, entertained Coach 10 on the journey up.

Unfortunately due to one of my group busting the toilet door, meaning more than the usual courtesy stops en route, we didn't make it to Anfield until nearly 7.00pm, which was a bummer because I had wanted to meet Messrs Bradshaw, Goddard and Raggett who were elbow-bending at Dr Duncans in the city centre but the delay meant that I didn't have time to get dropped off in the centre.

Still, more time to savour the atmosphere and after deciding the queue to get into Arkles was just too long, I became the only person dressed in yellow to be seen in the souvenir shop where I picked up some items for my Reds-loving son.

Once I'd seen a friendly face in the ground, I watched with Pete and it was fantastic to see the thousands of yellow balloons on the pitch which became the spur to a rousing performance from our fans who essentially became a twelfth Watford player and encouraged our glory boys to a fine performance. This was not the side that played at the Withdean but a spirited, organised and resolute army who were determined not to leave humiliated. The grey haired man in the camel hair overcoat in front of the Watford dugout at the start of the match must have had a lump in his throat as well as his wallet.

As I have said, I will leave the ball by ball analysis to the expert editors of the WO and BSaD but I remember saying to Pete at least ten times throughout the match that "It's that man again" as the mighty Cox headed or hoofed another clearance from the back line. He and Gavin were immense and hugging the touchline, Darlington surely had his best game ever, turning the opposition inside out.

Being particularly partisan, I would also like to report that Chambers got the better of Luis Garcia throughout the ninety minutes and the overriding thoughts after the game were of the near misses and the "if onlys". If Helguson's header had gone in and that skewed shot by Bouazza, it would have been a different story but the boys were immense.

Oh, and after watching the highlights this morning Gerrard's shot was going in and Cox was not to blame, which puts a lie to The Sun's atrocious headline "He Cox It Up Again" but at least Sarah nearly got a mention with their "A Load Of Ballooney" headline which ridiculously stated that Watford found it trickier negotiating the hundreds of balloons on the pitch. No, Mr Thomas, our boys matched Liverpool for skill in nearly every department.

Having said this, PB did have a thought that with the watching millions and a few scouts amongst the crowd and H in the shop window, a scrappy toe poke from Devlin or Mahon in the box was the sort of goal that was required rather than a spectacular Helguson effort. From that point of view, H didn't disappoint!

We go into the Fulham and Liverpool matches full of confidence and, more importantly, Crewe...and if my inaugural report doesn't get published, I will try again another day.

...Spion Kop means "Vantage Point" by the way, and there were five goals in the Charlton v Rochdale game.

Official match attendance: 42,239 of which 6,500 were Watford supporters and a further 6,500 were yellow balloons...