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Watford v Cambridge, 18/8/98
The way other people live
By Matt Rowson

Colonel Abrams knew what he was talking about. Never have I felt so ensnared, suffocated, captive. The blood is rushing to my head. I can feel one of my turns coming on... I feel cold as a razor blade, tight as a tourniquet, dry as a funeral drum.

One man is born a hero, his brother a coward; babies starve, politicians grow fat, holy men are murdered and junkies grow allegiances; Wilf Rostron vanishes into nothingness and Chris Waddle is commentating on the World Cup. Why ? Luck. Blind, stupid, simple doo-dah luck. American Justice. Lets see what luck has in store for us on Tuesday evening.

Why is it that even at the height of a serious hypo-glycaemic reaction I can still name Watford's 1984 Cup Final side ? Surely this illustrates that something is wrong. My life is upside down. Tragedies are happening throughout the world every day... profiteers rape our planet, destroy the rain forests, pollute the oceans, yet I devote my life to the inconsequential bumblings of a football team, A FOOTBALL TEAM. It's not even as if I'm playing, let alone whether it changes anything.

I've been supporting Watford for a Hundred Years. A hundred years of blood, crimson, the ribbon tightens round my throat I open my mouth and my head bursts open; a sound like a tiger thrashing in the water, over and over we die one after the other.

And still it continues. A grey, grey, ritual... there has to be more than this; where's the excitement ? I'm not talking about Richard Johnson melting it from 30 yards I'm talking about colour, passion, life. Real excitement. Why do I drive hundreds of miles to park in squalid back streets, amble as inconspicuously as possible, avoiding hostile glances, to pay fifteen quid for the privelege of entering some grey temple to false gods, and being abused, spat at, treated like a criminal before driving home in the rain.

WHAT DO THE OTHERS DO ? Do they watch cricket ? No, that has to be worse, it goes on for days. Yet at least then there wouldn't be the painful gaps which are EVEN WORSE THAN THE GAMES THEMSELVES, where the life blood is sucked out of you until you get your next fix. So what is there ? Are there people with NO AFFLICTION. People who live "normal" lives ? People who don't know what to do on a Saturday afternoon, poor bastards ?

There are. You know there are. And you hate them, all of them (except your Mum), all the pale saps who you see driving THE OTHER WAY when you're on the way to the ground and you realise that there must be something else, some alternative, and MAYBE, just maybe it's better than this. You hate them because they're not afflicted. They're free.

Maybe there is still time. Maybe there is still hope for you. This alternative. The way the other people live. There is no hope for me, it's finished, over. My life is planned out for me year by year, generated by a computer every June. Gradually I shall learn to hibernate in the summer, and spent the winter nights reading about the Lithuanian Cup preliminaries on the Internet. But for you, maybe, there is a chance. Turn around and run. Don't look back, whatever you do don't look back, even if you hear us screaming, even if you hear us wail in pain. Above all, ignore all the club circulars. Grab your chance before it dissolves like mine.

Don't worry. I'm calm. The first round of the League Cup always has this effect on me. I'll feel better in a minute.