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04/05: Reports:

League Cup Semi Final First Leg, 11/01/05, 8.00pm
I was there (in my car)
By Chris Lawton

For one crazy moment back in December, I consider leaving on a jet plane. A round trip to Liverpool with EasyJet from Schiphol turned out to be cheaper than your petrol from Watford. Sadly, the Xmas drain on the budget and the necessity to crash somewhere overnight meant Radio 5 instead.

Radio 5 is excellent for the ex-pat. You get wall-to-wall coverage of important world issues and the Champions League end of the Premiership. In the last round, for some utterly stupid reason, the programe was hosted at the Vic - but the commentary was Fulham against Chelsea and remained so even when we were causing an upset. Fortunately Peterborough-Wrexham was not a big enough fixture and we were, just for once, the commentary game. From the build-up with the gags of "a sting in the tale" and the like, it was clear that Watford were viewed as more than making up the numbers. They would have a chance to prove themselves. And they did. Didn't they?

I'll be honest, I missed some of it and had to settle for the last half-hour. As I drove through Den Haag, the signal was messed up by interference from overhead tram wires. Comments like: another misplaced pass, simply shocking, not good enough and then messers Green and Lawrenson laughing at the worse pass they had seen all season rang out across the city. Best thing was, they were talking about Liverpool....

Mahon and Gunnarsson sounded awesome and as a wave of yellow swept towards the Kop, I dared to hope. Could we do it?

And why not? Lydia was in the car. Lydia had been in the car and seen me explode in delight when we beat Southampton 5-2 earlier in the competition, could she help again tonight? Picture the frustration then on hearing Alan Green's tones rising in anticipation as Helguson stormed through twice in the final minutes, only to be denied by an unlucky bounce and an outstanding tackle by Traore.

So we nearly made it, but alas fell short. Still, it is only half time and all that, everything to play for, first goal will be decisive, Liverpool will not fancy it, we create a terrific atmosphere under lights! (How many cliches can you get in a paragraph?)

But I was left puzzled: was this the same team that had failed so abjectly in recent weeks against Reading, Cardiff, Brighton and, to a lesser extent, Millwall? But there was more. Throught my travels across Den Haag and on to Voorhout, I heard a resounding echo in my radio - the travelling fans. You came through loud and clear. But just as the team failed at Reading, so did the fans. I should know, for once I was there. Which begs two questions - do the fans inspire the team or vica versa, and as fans have we been as insipid as the team in recent weeks, saving ourselves for our five minutes in the spotlight?