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BLIND, STUPID AND DESPERATE
 
It's a long way to...
Basel
 
Mick Quinn: tireless work-horse
By Michael Hunt

Basel is a strange place really. Situated in the North Western corner of Switzerland you can comfortably march into Germany during your lunch hour or alternatively stroll into France with minimal resistance. As a consequence it is a bit of a cultural melting pot with up to 40,00 ex-pats living within the confines of the city.

I, however, appear to be the only Watford fan. I did bump into a Manchester United supporter the other week who hailed (surprise, surprise) from Surrey. As you can imagine intelligent football conversation is a bit thin on the ground.

FC Basel are the local team, currently languishing in the lower reaches of the Swiss First Division. They are allegedly the best supported team in Switzerland. They are also crap.

Apart from a complete lack of ability, they have a fitness problem. Mick Quinn could play for Basel and quickly earn a reputation as a tireless work-horse. On several occasions this season Basel have been defending a two or three goal lead with twenty minutes left on the clock only to throw it all away. The clinching goal usually arrives for the opposition in the dying seconds, whilst the Basel defence are left drawing on their asthma inhalers/Capstan full strength.

Which brings me to another strange fact about Switzerland: it's the smoking capital of the Western world! Apart from FC Basel using cigarettes as an integral part of their training programme, every man, woman and child over the age of 12 seems to be at it. I was a reformed smoker when I came here, six months down the line I make Bonnie Tyler sound like Aled Jones. Fortunately I am not likely to suffer from any health problems as the city is plagued with tram drivers from the Tony Adams school of motoring.

Another joy of living abroad is BBC Prime. This is basically a television service for English-speaking punters living abroad. Tonight I will be going home to watch "Three Up, Two Down" and "Oh, Doctor Beeching!". Now I donít want to sound churlish or ungrateful but it was bad enough to subject me to these programmes when I was at home, surely I donít deserve to suffer them again. In consolation I can always watch German TV. I donít understand a word of it but gratuitous nudity always gets my vote.

Another problem with BBC Prime is Ceefax. Up until 2 weeks ago I could get the Watford half times and final scores. The BBC in their wisdom have suspended this, preferring to tell me results in Scandinavia instead. At least I donít have to pay the licence fee any more.

Fed up with being kept in the dark I decided to pop home for the weekend and get myself to a game. I will spare you the details other than it cost me three hundred quid to get home and the game I chose to see was Millwall. I have decided that there is a correlation between my proximity to Vicarage Road and the team's performance as the last time Watford lost this season I was in Amsterdam (on business of course). It seems that whilst I remain in Central Europe Watford remain undefeated but if I start moving west everything falls apart.

I have therefore decided in a magnanimous gesture to keep a healthy distance until promotion is decided one way or another. I still havenít forgiven myself for not wearing my lucky pants when we lost to Leicester on the final day of the season before last and I wonít let them down again.

I have also tried to find out about Jerren Nixon. Apparently all anyone knows is that he plays/ed for Zurich and he isnít very fit. Remember, you heard it here first!