Mark Watson should be a spokesman for The Football League.

The comedian and veteran of topical panel show Mock the Week is a standard bearer for the clubs that support local communities - and vice-versa.

When he was growing up in Bristol, most of his peers supported a certain team in the north-west that wore red and was successful in Europe.

But after a visit aged seven to Ashton Gate, he chose a club with a red strip closer to home.

Watson said: "All the kids at school supported Liverpool, but I didn't see the point of following a team I couldn't go and see.

"The first game I went to was in 1987, a derby match between Bristol City and Bristol Rovers. It is incredible that I could go to a derby at the age of about seven.

"It was some kind of holiday like New Year's Day and we had a lot of family around. My uncles were all going, so I think I played the 'everyone else is going so why can't I?' card.

"Actually, the fact that we could all go to a derby match on a whim is amazing in itself. That just couldn't happen these days.

"City lost 1-0, so if I was glory-hunting I really should have chosen Rovers. But I started following City because it was closer. How's that? A logical reason for supporting a team!"

Watson harks back to what he calls "the golden age of football" adding: "I like to think of that time when people came out of the pits and went to watch their team."

The pits may have gone, but he believes the experience of supporting his local team has given him a taste of what it was like in the days before pay-per-view, and 3D.

He added: "I like what the Football League seems to have done, getting people back to their local club.

"The Premier League is the best in the world. But what has been lost with the explosion of the top teams is the community spirit, which I feel very strongly about.

"There were fears that smaller clubs would die and there would only be the top four teams left - which would be very sad.

"But these days you get 12 to 15,000 people at a League 1 game, even more at a Championship fixture.

"That is a phenomenal amount when you think about how many people there actually are in the surrounding area.

"If you added up all the people who went to the cinema on a Saturday in any given town, for example, it wouldn't be as much as that."

And Watson's most memorable game? A toss-up between an FA Cup mauling of a non-league side and the Championship Play-Off semi-final against Crystal Palace in 2008.

He said: "The FA Cup game was against St Albans and we won 9-2. It wasn't the highest quality match, but I am unlikely to see a scoreline like that again.

"Maybe the best game I have seen is the second leg of the Play-Off semi final against Crystal Palace.

"We were 2-1 up from the first leg and we went a goal down at Ashton Gate but ended up winning 2-1 again. The sheer excitement at actually winning was brilliant.

"But then we got to the final against Hull, and there was a thought that we might actually make it into the Premier League.

"Looking back it is probably a good thing we didn't, which might sound strange, but we probably would have gone straight back down again.

"That's what we were hoping would happen with Hull, who beat us in the final. Unfortunately it didn't."

Mark Watson will be touring the UK in 2010 with his new show 'Do I Know You?' Go to www.markwatsonthecomedian.com for tour information.

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