By Neil Thomson
Many people can remember every aspect of their first match, the year, the opposition, the score, maybe even the starting eleven.
I was 5 or 6 when I took my first steps through the turnstile and in to Carrow Road.
I don’t remember much about the game itself which I think was against Arsenal. I vaguely recall a goalkeeper with a dark bowl haircut (maybe John Lukic) and a guy who was a cut above anyone else on the pitch (which may have been David Rocastle).
The thing that caught my eye was what was happening in the stands. The singing and swaying of the old Barclay terrace is definitely the single biggest contributor in me falling in love with this great club.
I remember the songs going back and forth between the two sets of fans, the incredible volume when OTBC was sung and the one song that really stuck in my memory from that day was hearing “The referees a wanker” for the first time.
I turned in disbelief as the entire Barclay screamed profanity en masse, to see my teenage brother and cousin laughing and telling me to put my fingers in my ears.
I’d started that day being dragged away from my toys, probably kicking and screaming, and ended it as a fully-fledged Norwich City fan and I wouldn’t shut up about it. Many would probably tell you that I haven’t stopped talking about Norwich ever since.
I’ve seen three decades worth of games since and my love has never wavered, especially my love for the antics in the stands.
In the mid-nineties, I got my first season ticket in the Barclay with a few friends from school and although our tickets were for the front of C block, we often stood at the back of E block against the will of the stewards, until we finally moved our tickets back there permanently a season or so later.
You see, it has always been about the atmosphere for me. If the atmosphere is dull at a game, I’m far more upset about it than if we lose but had a good sing song in the meantime.
I, along with many friends around me on a match day have contributed plenty of new songs to the Norwich terraces over the years. Some have become Barclay favourites, others have fallen flat on their face, some are still in the locker and may never even get an airing.
It’s not just my beloved E Block that get songs going of course, many others from other areas of the ground have contributed to our repertoire, especially at away games. Some songs are brilliant and never take off, others have been terrible but are welcomed with open arms (Gary O’Neill’s last season for instance).
Personally, I love a song with some originality, maybe with a tune taken from the continent that most clubs haven’t quite caught on to yet. However, what I’ve found over the years is that for some reason, Norwich fans tend to play it safe. The songs that tend to take off quickly are ones that are being sung by every club and their dogs, which is a little disappointing for me.
We’ve been persistent with some of the more original ones and they’ve taken off eventually.
When Dave, Tom and I started the Barclay End Projekt in 2013, we saw the games at the U21’s as a potential chance to introduce some new songs, and with the popularity of that small section when the club started offering free tickets, we took the chance wholeheartedly.
Numerous new songs, and friendships, came out of those few U21’s matches and I hope that it leaves a lasting impression on some of the younger fans that went along to those games in the same way that (possibly) Arsenal game did with me.
When I was first asked to write something for ACN, I was asked to help provide suggestions for songs for new players and the like, and I may have a few suggestions in the future, but for now I’ll just offer some advice;
If you’ve got a song suggestion, be brave and go for it. Sing it in the pub, the train, the coach, the stands or wherever you and your mates may be on a matchday.
People may laugh at you, others may join in, but just remember you could be responsible for the next “Moroccan All Over the world” or “We love you Paul McVeigh”.
Enjoy yourself and create the best atmosphere you possibly can for our team.
And if you can….. Be original, even if it’s only for my own satisfaction.