My mother rolls her eyes up to the sky in desperation whenever I attempt to explain my increasingly absurd superstitions. Her son,
a ferocious atheist with a job that requires clear, logical thought, has a tendency to lose it completely
when football enters the equation.
I've done all the usual things - lucky shirts, lucky shave, lucky seats (my current location, Kate on my right and Don on my left, appears
likely to end with an experiment in lucky deafness), lucky programme seller (I'd rather burn my nipples off
with a blowtorch than buy a programme outside the ground). But I'm not content with such fripperies, oh no. I have to
take it to foolish extremes, oh yes.
I'm proud to say that not only are my superstitions scientifically proven to be successful (although last season's relegation and
the previous ten years of failure have, I admit, been something of a lapse), they're also indulged regardless of
personal inconvenience. No sacrifice is too great - in the case of a hurried lucky shave with my one remaining, already-used razor blade
before charging out of the door for a midweek game, I'm even prepared to shed blood.
Perhaps most inconvenient is the 'standing up thing' (which, like all truly great superstitions, evades a snappy title). I don't sit down
until the teams come out. Now, if you're the type who gets to the ground two nanoseconds before the first ball is kicked, that might
not sound like a major hardship. But I'm the kind of idiot who considers getting to the Vic after sunrise to be 'cutting it a bit fine'...
(Incidentally, anyone who's been following this particular saga will know that I experimented with sitting down and standing
up - although not at the same time, clearly - earlier in the season. It was an unfortunate time, as you'll know if you were
at the Plymouth match, and it's all done with now.)
Can I mention the tea stain now? (Yes - Ed) Thanks. It's not, strictly speaking, a superstition but I have, during
the last few months, entertained myself by dropping the tea bag from my pre-match cuppa in exactly the same spot each time. It's built
up into quite a sizeable mark now. I hope, in years to come, that it will become a place of pilgrimage for Hornets the world over. They'll
gather round in hushed reverence and whisper, 'That tea stain was put there by the editor of BSaD. Handsome blighter, he was.'
Anyway, I've saved the most ludicrous for last. It all started with a fairly mild superstition - not looking at the
ground on the train journey to the game. Even that has its complications, though. I can't look at it but I firmly
believe that it's vital that the ground is visible from the train so that I can decisively turn the other cheek to such
temptation. Hence, probably, our dismal record at Luton over the years. The reverse situation can also be a problem, however -
at places like Norwich and Millwall, where the stadium looms large over the railway tracks, you'll find me hiding under
the seat with my eyes closed...
It doesn't end there, unfortunately. These days I've assembled such a bewildering array of landmarks that I should and shouldn't look
at on the way into Watford Junction that my movements tend to resemble those of a spectator at a tennis match between two
hyperactive children. The Harlequin, several churches, a Mobil garage...all have their own significance. It's insane, I know,
but, as with all superstitions, I can't stop for fear of being to blame for the heaviest defeat in the club's entire history.
Having exposed some of the most pathetic aspects of my life, opening myself up to ridicule from small children in the street, I would like
to point something out. My lucky shave dates back to a Paul Furlong goal at Barnsley three years ago which went in as I was
preparing for a night out. Last year, we scored two late goals to claim a dramatic draw at West Brom. I was sitting on the toilet at the time. I have made nothing of this. Even I