What we all need after the weekend is something completely different. So here's Jim VanderPump with his random tales of Norwich City's Class of 1998. This time it's Andy Marshall sharing his tale.*
*This tale is almost certainly not true.......or is it?
This year’s been the worst. It all started when I discovered that my mum had lied to me about the ingredients for crème brulee. When I was a kid and she couldn’t be bothered to make a proper dessert, she would serve us up plain yoghurt with burnt porridge oats on top. Consequently, for the following 25 years I’ve been dismissing the dish and missing out on potentially delicious puddings.
Now things have gone from bad to worse; here I am, in the middle of nowhere, sitting around a camp-fire in the freezing cold with the rest of the Norwich lads, save for the ones who were quick enough to think of an excuse.
It was Eadie’s idea to make the outing fancy dress. Any excuse to wear his Han Solo costume, although how that’s Halloween related I have no idea. Everyone went along with it, with varying degrees of enthusiasm. I’m a half-hearted Beetlejuice; I already had a black and white striped dressing gown so I chucked a load of flour in my hair and borrowed a bit of Keith O’Neill’s eye-liner. It’s OK, though, you can always rely on someone else to make less effort than yourself; Peter Grant’s just got his shirt off.
“Bodhi,” he’d told us all defiantly when questioned. “Off-a Point Break.”
We’d all looked back at him blankly.
“Patrick Swayze, ken? He’s a deed-ringer fae me.”
Nobody argued. None of us could remember whether Swayze also had ginger chest hair and a tattoo of the Celtic cross, so we gave him the benefit of the doubt.
Now we’re sitting in silence, avoiding eye-contact and listening to the sound of kindling crackling in the fire. Viktor Segura, dressed in an all-in-one, red PVC jumpsuit, lightly strums a chord on his Spanish guitar (I guess he just calls it a guitar). Somebody needs to say something quickly, before he starts playing it properly again. I hate Flamenco, especially from a guy dressed up as the Anne Summers Devil.
“I guess we should tell horror stories,” says a Papa Shango Iwan Roberts.
“I’ll go first,” says Eadie, far too eagerly, and starts recounting the time he and Daryl Sutch stayed in a cottage in Thorpeness and a rocking chair started moving, of its own accord. “Then there was this smell, like someone had done a disgusting fart, but it wasn’t me and Daryl said it wasn’t him either, so the only feasible explanation is… a ghost.”
There’s an uncomfortable shifting to my right and an almost imperceptible clearing of the throat from the Chewbacca costume that’s housing Daryl Sutch.
“I can do better than that,” somebody says in the darkness.
Everyone turns and looks at me and I realise I’ve spoken without thinking again.
“Go on then Marshall,” jibes Malky in his SS Uniform, which is a bit too close to the mark to be called a costume. “Tell us your scary story.”
I’d always sworn that I’d never tell a soul. It’s supposed to be my secret; something that I’d take to the grave. But for some reason, whether it’s the hypnotic pull of the fire, or being out in the wild, or maybe the fear of being brutally assaulted by savage footballers, something is making me want talk about what happened to me that fateful night…
It was one of those long, hot summer evenings and I was stuck in traffic on Newmarket Road, sucking my way through a packet of Polos. The fans in the car could only blow hot air in my face, the lights ahead seemed to be permanently stuck on red and I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever make home in time for ‘Ally McBeal’.
Suddenly, up ahead in the dusky sky, I saw a flickering light. It was coming my way, getting closer and closer until eventually I could see the huge, oval dish it was emanating from. Seeing a rounded shape heading in my direction, I did what came naturally to me as a goalkeeper: threw up my hands to cover my eyes and dived out of the way and into the passenger seat.
There was a blinding flash of light and the next thing I knew I was out of the car, standing in a field, the silver dish hovering 20 feet above my head, apparently waiting for me, with a low hum. I’ve often wondered how I’ll die, whether it’s a long, drawn out illness which gradually debilitates me, or a sudden mangling in a combine harvester, but I’d always assumed it would be painful. I guessed I was soon to find out.
When I came to I was back on solid ground, on-board the space-craft. A bright-white, endless corridor covered with sparkling panels of buttons and gadgets lay before me. Two figures appeared in my path. They were short, shorter even than Bellars, and their skin was grey, from oversized head to elongated third toe. Their faces were a blank oval canvass containing only a pair of large, prune-like, pupil-less eyes. The lack of humanness made me feel at ease and I began to think that maybe we would get on.
“Greetings Earthling,” said the slightly shorter of the two, extending a spindly hand in my direction. “Welcome aboard our space-ship. May I furnish you with a refreshment, a liquid beverage perhaps?”
“Got any Kia-ora?” I asked and he nodded in a polite sort of bow, before looking to his compatriot in a slightly judgemental way, which made me think I should have played it safe and gone for Ribena. I hoped I hadn’t blown my chance of escaping planet Boring with them.
Without speaking the second figure communicated that I was to follow him and the two of us walked side-by-side down the main walkway of the ship, between the many grey figures going about their business.
“What am I doing here?” I asked, but when I turned around my companion was gone and I was in the corridor on my own.
Then, on my right, I saw it. Chained up, hands and feet manacled to individual steel posts so that they looked like a starfish, was another human being. His naked, pink bottom was hoisted up in the air like some sort of jelly on a dessert-trolley in an old people’s home and I couldn’t help but think of my mum and the cruel trick she’d played with the crème brulee.
“Andy, over here!” It was Chris Llewellyn. He was craning his head around to try and look at me.
I rushed over, but there was no freeing him from the chains. Even if I’d bothered to try.
“Chris, what have they done to you?” I said, my voice as worried as I could make it.
“They stripped me completely naked, shaved off all of my hair, stuck pins in every part of my body, then they started with the anal probe.”
“My God, that’s terrible!”
“No, it’s been alright actually,” he said contentedly. “Plus, I get to wear this funky hat. I feel like Jamiroquai or something.”
As I looked at him, trussed up like a chicken and wearing a ridiculously fluffy alien mind-probe, I couldn’t help but feel a mixture of sorrow and contempt: he was one of those idiots who confused the name of the band with the name of the lead singer. Infuriating.
“Is this your first time here?” he asked.
“Erm, yeah…” I began to answer but as I did I became aware of my mind losing its power and functionality, just like when I’m taking a goal-kick. There was a sharp pain in the back of my neck and in my last moments of consciousness I was able to glance around and see the needle going deep into my skin. The mouthless face of my grey captor seemed to be smiling somehow. Then I passed out.
Next thing I knew I was back in my car, turning onto Unthank Road. My head ached with unfathomable questions: what had they done to me? Why had I been rejected as an unworthy subject? Who had eaten all of my Polos?
I knew I would never find out, but I hoped that one day I would be given another chance.
There’s a stunned silence around the camp-fire. My revelation has clearly left my colleagues speechless.
“Aye, tell us something we don’t know, Marshall, you dick,” says Malky.
I’m taken aback. Here I am revealing a personal experience about extra-terrestrial life-forms and they’re not even bothered.
“Chris tells that story all the time,” says Neil Adams, removing the wig of his Ginger Spice costume. “Never shuts up about it.”
“Hang on a minute,” says Iwan, looking around the wood with a frown on his face-paint. “Where is Chris?”
We all look up and down but he’s nowhere to be seen. Those that care begin calling his name, but it’s no good. He’s been taken again.
You can follow Jim on Twitter @JimVanderPump
Poor old Andrew Lawn made the trip South to Brighton full of hope and optimism. Unfortunately all he found was homophobia and clueless defending. Let him take you through it....
Random star performer
This is going to be a hard game to review. It was like a bad dream in which you remember the overall feeling of unending hopelessness but hardly any of the actual moments.
The performances were the same, universally hopeless. The star? Maybe the teenage amputee who was introduced to the crowd at half time. He did after all say "when they told me they'd have to amputate above the knee I did think I might never play football again". That's the kind of optimism I like.
Moment of the match.
Errrrm. Let's see. Can I move on? Or use the optimistic lad again?
I think Wes hit a half volley straight at Stockdale just after we went 2-0 down. That was nice.
Biggest positive to take
It's over and can't ever happen again. A positive? Really? Maybe the fact Tettey can't possibly put in such a shocker next week as he's banned?
Nope sorry. Nothing else.
Ah now here we go. Where shall I begin?
Concourse and train singing. It wouldn't be as annoying if those same people sung in the ground. They don't. 5 lads on the train in green and yellow wigs spent the entire train journey singing a catchy (and sweary) ditty about Alex Pritchard. They stood near me in the ground. Near silence all game.
The train after the game was worse as now the (different) lads had turned homophobic. Sometimes being bald is a bonus and a combination of looking hard and telling them to shut up worked. Who are these people? Chanting is ace. I love it so much I wrote a book about it. But the point is to support your team, not be a boorish arse.
Oh and the game was shit. Every single player without exception was shit. Shit shit shit.
Not the whole problem but part of it. A full fat homer. Cowardly decision making, led entirely by the home crowd. Inconsistent, weak and had an annoying jog.
In bits and pieces it was really good. However, why do we only sing each song for 10 seconds before getting bored? And where do all the concourse singers go?
Not that fun but then an omnishambles of a defensive performance is never really jolly. Can I leave it there? It was dreadful and you all know how dreadful. Perhaps more worrying was Russell Martin's dejected post match comments. The man was nearly in tears when stating "too many lads gave up" and "it's more than alarming, it's embarassing." No shit Russ.
City travel to the south coast seaside tomorrow looking to Brighton's 8 game unbeaten league run. With the Canaries without a win in 3, it all sounds very #alongcomenorwich.
We asked a man who knows more about City's past, then we do our own; David 'Spud' Thornhill for the key facts and figures ahead of our date at the Amex.
Norwich go into Saturday's game at Brighton being on the other side of the coin when it comes to being a bogey club to other clubs for a change. In the last 13 games, Brighton have only beaten Norwich once and that was a 1-0 victory at Carrow Road way back on Boxing Day 2002.
Despite having a bit of a hold over Brighton at the moment, in the 94 games since the club's first met in the Southern League in 1905, the two clubs have an equal head-to-head record with both emerging victorious on 32 occasions, sharing 30 draws.
Brighton's best sequence over Norwich came between 1907/08-1914/15 when Norwich only had one win in 14 attempts.
Norwich currently enjoy being by the seaside however, winning their last four games in Brighton. A 100% winning record at the Withdean was followed up with a victorious first visit to the Amex (if you don't count the 1-1 pre season friendly in 2013)when a Bradley Johnson goal on a wet Good Friday in April 2015 gave Norwich a 1-0 win.
City's last defeat in Brighton was at their old Goldstone Ground in March 1983. A hotly disputed goal from Jimmy Case appeared to have been handled in the build up, but was enough to knock Norwich out in the FA Cup quarter final.
During the 1945/46 season the FA experimented with making the FA Cup a two legged affair for every round until the last 8. Norwich drew Brighton that and lost the first leg 2-1 at Carrow Road. Rather than rescue the situation Norwich were subsequently hammered 4-1 at Goldstone Ground, to crash out 6-2 on aggregate..
In 1940 with the Second World War raging, City hosted Brighton on Christmas Day. The visitors arrived with just 5 players so had to pick 6 people out of the Carrow Road crowd to represent them. Obviously they didn't try too hard as Norwich won 18-0 (Yes you read that right, EIGHTEEN). Fred Chadwick scored six of them. As this was not an official game this is not considered our record win and Fred's goals aren't recorded.
In our 114 year history, Norwich have only had 9 games abandoned, but the FA Cup meeting with Brighton at Carrow Road in 2003 was the only game that never even got started. The game was still classed as abandoned as it was not called off until 37 minutes after the schedule kick off due to floodlight failure.
In 1946, during a 1st Round FA Cup tie City were trailing 2-1 at the break, but came back and won 7-2, including Leslie Eyre scoring the most goals by a Norwich player in a FA Cup tie with five, including 3 in the last eight minutes.
With Norwich letting another two comfortable leads slip at Leeds in the EFL Cup on Tuesday, another chapter was added to a now familiar tale of woe.
Andrew Lawn looks back at this frustrating run and asks, what is the problem boys?
2-0 up and comfortable? Not Norwich City. A worrying pattern of being unable to hold onto games is starting to emerge from Alex Neil’s men. It cost us our Premier League place and it could derail our attempts to return at the first time of asking.
Are we uncovering a new meaning for #AlongComeNorwich?
Saturday 26 September 2015 – West Ham United (a)
1-0 up early doors through Robbie Brady’s 9th minute strike, we had started well, but the Hammers hit back through Sakho 20 minutes later. An even game was then seemingly settled by Nathan Redmond’s crisp drive with 7 minutes to go. Jonny Howson rescued a pigeon and injury time arrived with City set to claim a big 3 points, until a 93rd minute leveller from Kouyate after a deep free kick wasn’t dealt with. Did this begin the rot?
Saturday 31st October 2015 – Manchester City (a)
Slightly harsh to include this maybe, but once Cameron Jerome had nudged us level with 7 minutes to go, you hoped we could see it out. Nope. Calamitous defending led to a slightly harsh handball call on Russell Martin and Yaya Toure (remember him?) tucked home an 89th minute winner for the Citizens.
Saturday 23rd January 2016 – Liverpool (h)
We actually contrived to do it twice in one game here. Steven Naismith had enjoyed an excellent City debut, capped with a goal and winning a penalty for Wes to tuck away. This put us 3-1 up 10 minutes into the 2nd half. Almost immediately Russell Martin played a blind back pass and Jordan Henderson made it 3-2. 3-2 became 3-4 over the next 20 minutes, before Sebastian Bassong looked to have rescued a point with a thunderous left foot drive with 92 minutes on the clock, 4-4. Nope. Adam Lallana broke Jurgen Klopp’s glasses with a loopy, bouncey volley with the last kick of the game and we were beaten.
Saturday 13th February 2016 – West Ham United (h)
West Ham again, but this time was somehow worse. 2-0 up with 20 minutes to go, we had played well and were comfortable. 2 goals in 2 minutes from Dimitri Payet and a Mark Noble thunderbastard cost us another 2 points.
Saturday 27th February 2016 – Leicester City (a)
Another slightly harsh one given the Foxes would go on to win the league, but an excellent and resolute defensive performance was entirely undone by an 89th minute lazy flick of Ryan Bennett’s boot, leaving Leonardo Ulloa unable to miss. I make that 9 Premier League points from 5 games, not just lost but thrown away. Enough to survive easily.
Wednesday 28th September 2016 – Newcastle United (a)
The pinnacle surely. 3-1 up away from home to your nearest promotion rivals, with only 20 minutes to go, should be exactly the time to concentrate. Nah. One long ball that Bassong decided he didn’t fancy heading and it was 3-2. Still 3-2 up in the 94th minute = 3 huge points? No. 3-3. Still I’d have taken a draw before the game. No. 3-4.
Tuesday 18th October 2016 – Fulham (a)
The curse of Craven Cottage had been lifted. An even 45 minutes had somehow seen us go in 2-0 ahead, away at Fulham. Away at Fulham. Worry not curse fans, an abject 2nd half saw the Cottagers pull level and the winless run continues.
Tuesday 25th October 2016 – Leeds United (a)
Twice in a week. Some going that. This time a dominant first 45 minutes saw City take a deserved 1-0 lead but give it away. An even 2nd half followed and extra-time beckoned. An additional 30 minutes we didn’t need given we face Brighton away on Saturday. Still no worries, Leeds go down to 10 men through injury and Nelson Oliveira puts us 2-1 ahead. Easy street to the EFL Cup quarter-finals yeah? No. 2-2 through a goal that was sloppier than a sloppy thing that had been left in water overnight. Penalties. 2-1 down and heading out, we somehow get back to 2-2 and it’s sudden death. Then Robbie Brady, who scored a penalty against GIANLUIGI BUFFON in the summer, misses and we crash out.
It wasn’t funny to begin with and this doesn’t take into account the close shaves against Cardiff (h), Burton (h) and Wolves (a) or even Ipswich (a) where we were so comfortable before they scored on the stroke of half-time, it was almost boring. Now it is just plain horrid. Stop it Norwich. Stop it now.
What can we learn from it?
Well nearly all (but not all) of these have come late on in games. If you recall last season a stat emerged that showed Norwich had run less than any other club in the Premier League. At the time Alex Neil dismissed it with “Well all that shows is that my players are in the right places already”. Possibly. But in hindsight could it be the first signs of fitness being an issue? A few times this season 5 or 6 players have looked to be breathing out of the arses as the game enters the final quarter and it is surely no coincidence that tired bodies, lead to tired minds and lapses in concentration?
Add to this that we lost our former drill sergeant Gary ‘Three Lungs’ Holt recently, although the run began while he was still in the building.
If fitness is the problem, and I am concluding that it is, that should at least be easy to rectify, but first we need to admit we have a problem. The worry is that a fitness issue has created a mental stumbling block and our inability to hold on has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Alex, over to you…
Just when you thought this season couldn't get any more annoying, City found a way.
Andrew Lawn and Jon Punt look back on another "if only" game, this time in Yorkshire, rather than Newcastle, London or Norwich.
Random Star Performer
Ok, it's not THAT random. Louis Thompson was largely excellent at the heart of the midfield, starting to show the promise Neil Adams saw in the lad. With the absence of Jonny Howson for months to come and Alex Tettey an ill timed challenge away from a one game ban the emergence of the youngster may well prove to be a huge bonus.
The other stand out performer was all the less likely. In true Sesame Street fashion, this match was brought to you by the number 2. Making himself known first in an incredible attendance of 22,222, then there were 2 goals in normal time. Final score after 120 minutes? 2 apiece. Penalties scored by Norwich? 2. Did you know there were 2 teams playing at Elland Road last night too? And how many arms has Kyle Lafferty got? It’s only bleeding 2……spooky. A crying shame however Norwich couldn't muster a few extra fans to take the away contingent to 2,222, although in 1,905 we very nearly nailed our birthdate.
Moment of the match
Kyle Bartley palming the ball deliberately in beyond John Ruddy towards the end of the first half was obscenely ridiculous. You almost felt the Norwich defence were applauding the goal but it was all an elaborate routine to bring to the official's attention the blatant cheating of the Dirty Leeds defender. Straight off the training ground that lads, nice work.
Gary Monk then hammering Alex Neil for pointing out the malpractice, was a delicious cherry.
Biggest positive to take
That man Pritch. AGAIN. 13 minutes of harrying and pressing created chances even as early as the 10 second mark. This pressure culminated in a neat interchange between Naismith and Brady, and when the Irishman's cross evaded Nelson Oliveira at the near post the diminutive figure of Alex Pritchard was on hand to guide the ball home with his HEAD. An excellent finish and move for the former Tottenham man's debut goal. A wonderful counter attack to boot.
Ok, he missed a penalty but isn’t that always the way when you’ve had a great game? Think Pearce, think Waddle, think Southgate. Pritchard was lively all night and generally at the heart of everything positive Norwich conjured up. A pinpoint cross to an unmarked Lord Nelson nearly proved to be the decisive blow and it’s not long before we see this man as a regular starter in the Championship. The boy can play.
On Saturday he gets to complete that little drive round the M25. Wouldn't it be nice to show Brighton what we stole? Altogether now; "Thank you very much for shitty traffic...
Whinge of the night
Antonsson’s goal. No pressure on the ball from the front 3, a long hopeful punt which Godfrey let bounce, Brady failed to track the far post run after being caught upfield then Bennett stands around waiting for someone else to blame because he's the darling of Canary Call.
Absolute shit show. It was reminiscent of our usual Championship defending and is quickly becoming standard stuff. A total car crash.
Booked players when he should (apart from that challenge by Naismith midway through the second half) Allowed play to flow in general. Even let things roll for the less physical challenges. Top notch performance. Not often you see a sensible referee these days, well played Andy Woolmer, can we have you every week?
1,905 noisy City fans made the journey north and were vocal throughout. A great effort chaps and chapesses.
On the Ball City rang out loud and proud, drowning out Leeds fans for vast swathes of the 120 minutes. Had we been playing we would have taken 10 seconds to applaud you as we made our way down the tunnel, RIGHT NEXT TO YOU. There's another moan. How hard is it to look up and applaud?
Same old, same old. Always look like we can score, instantly know we'll concede when we do. Utterly predictable. Is it fitness? Darren Eadie does keep labelling this side the least fit he has ever seen in a City shirt. Is it mental? Alex Neil has long complained (but not really fixed) a lack of natural leaders. Is it a combination? Who knows? It's infuriatingly frustrating regardless and worryingly it's becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
All in all, an epic effort to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory after injury left Leeds with 10 men in extra time. Let’s not dwell on it. Please.
As performances go that was so Norwich City 2016. We're becoming a parody of ourselves.
Lee Payne takes a look at Norwich City's thriving online 'new media' community which is putting fans at the front and centre of Norwich City news and reaction.
How times have changed since 2005, hearing Nigel Worthington's sacking on Sky Sports and Radio Norfolk.
Norwich City has always been renowned as a club for the community. The whole of the city, and pretty much the whole county, rallies around it. While the residents of places such as Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham have more than one league team to support, Norwich has just the one in the entirety of the seventh most populous county in England.
The unusually large catchment area surrounding the club might be a factor, but I genuinely think there is something a bit different about Norwich and its fans.
We are often, tiresomely, the butt of unimaginative jokes due to the remote, off-the-beaten-track nature of Norfolk but I am arguing that this particular trait is something to be celebrated. I think of the enormous crowds that gathered in the city centre two years running; first when we were League One champions, then promoted to the Premier League. The number of people that congregated in front of City Hall and lined the streets to see the players on the open top bus parades would have filled Carrow Road more than twice over. I recall the buildings on Timberhill being handsomely decorated in yellow and green. There was also, of course, that wonderful day Wembley became a temporary suburb of Norwich.
The aspect of this community feel I want to discuss is the brilliantly thriving Norwich City media scene.
Where before there was only the Evening News or the Eastern Daily Press to get an insight into the club, where the best place to hear City news first was Radio Norfolk, where the only place for fans to express their opinions about the team was the misery pit that is the pink’un forums, there now exists a growing number of high quality websites, YouTube channels, podcasts and TV shows for a Canary to get their teeth into.
When Nigel Worthington lost his job as Norwich manager on 1 October 2006, I first heard about it on Sky Sports News. I then followed the story on Radio Norfolk, where they were holding a phone-in for fans to give their views. A decade on, the first place such news would break would almost certainly be on Twitter. The traditional media would probably do the same as they did back then, and there is still a place for that, but the community, fan produced content would come out quicker and make you think more. The club’s official Twitter account has more than 429,000 followers at the time writing, a figure which I would bet greatly outweighs the number of visitors to its official website.
I became aware of the brilliant home grown media scene the club had when I joined Twitter five years ago. Then, the outstanding parts were three sites – Holtamania, which analysed tactical aspects of Norwich matches in painstaking detail, Sing Up The River End, a resource for almost any fact or figure about the club a fan could wish to know and the website MyFootballWriter; which was created in 2005 by former newspaper journalist Rick Waghorn, nicely bridging the gap between old and new media. Eleven years on Holtamania (the blog) is now a thing of the past (though you might well follow him on Twitter), and SUTRE is not updated as regularly as it once was, but MyFootballWriter continues to showcase fans alongside bona fide journalists and great things have followed their paths.
Jack Reeve has more than 850 videos on his YouTube channel TalkNorwichCity, offering a unique perspective on the club. Where he doesn’t have a great deal of access inside, he instead puts the fans at the front and centre of what he does, and it absolutely works. As a season ticket holder than cannot get to away games, the videos on his channel make me feel a connection with those who can travel around the country supporting the team.
This very website is of course part of the scene I’m talking about too. AlongComeNorwich has really taken off because, for me, the writing on it is of a very high standard and the topics covered extremely relevant. I’m not being paid to write this by the way. There’s also been a wide range of different writers, giving a different angle. My mind turns to the article by Di Cunningham about Norwich’s LGBT fanbase.
Then there’s The Little Yellow Bird Project. It started as a podcast, had some written pieces on its website too, and now includes video from Jon Rogers, AKA Big Grant Holt, one of the great characters of this community.
There are careers in this too – Jack Reeve of TalkNorwichCity can be heard reading the sport news on BBC Radio Norfolk, and Dan Brigham of The Little Yellow Bird Project has recently become editor of City’s official matchday programme, where he has been utilising the talents of the amateur writers, graphic designers and photographers and showing their considerable skills to a wider audience.
I think this is fantastic, and it’s really exciting to witness. You’ve probably heard about the English Football League’s recent total ban on fans filming inside grounds on matchdays. Well, this grassroots media movement shows why such ridiculous rules are surely doomed to failure. Whether it be in writing, in audio, in video, in photos or in graphics, this community of Norwich City fans making and sharing content is getting bigger and better every day.
Long may it continue.
Bubble burst then. 1 point from 6, a disappointingly average display and the unbeaten home record is gone. Surely there must be something to salvage, right? Jon Punt and Andy Lawn take a look......
Random star performer
Paralympians Alfie Hewett and Jessica-Jane Applegate got a rousing reception from both Norwich and Preston fans as they made their way past the Barclay and into the South Stand. On a forgettable afternoon that had as much going for it as a grey Tuesday morning in Dagenham, it was a nice moment in the autumnal Carrow Road sunshine. Unfortunately, when an extension of the club mascots for the day are the best bit...
Moment of the match
Slim pickings. Cameron Jerome's thumping volley just after Preston scored was superb, as was the instinctive follow up. The saves to deny him were also top drawer. It's been a frustrating afternoon when nearly scoring is the highlight.
It would be easy to call match referee Steve Martin a jerk, maybe even a dirty rotten scoundrel. In fact, why didn’t he point his bowfinger to the spot when Cameron Jerome was upended on his way to goal late in the second half, instead choosing to give a free kick 15 millimetres outside the box? In truth though, the three amigos that were the officials didn’t really feature as a talking point, although they maybe should have got a grip on Preston's time wasting earlier. That's nitpicking though, as is the fact the referee seemingly didn’t know how to apply the advantage laws correctly. Ah well.
Biggest positive to take
Alex Pritchard. Again. Should he not start at the Amex, finally completing his ill fated journey around the M25, you could be forgiven for thinking Alex Neil has been the subject of a stealth lobotomy
Robbie Brady looks either half fit or half interested, dependant on how much of a conspiracy theorist you may be. Pritch's introduction, to reunite the fabulous new power couple of Hoolahard, was the first sign of any attacking spark. His movement off the ball opens pockets of space for others and you sensed it was a game made for Jonny Howson to burst into those gaps rather than the overly cautious, and much less technically able, Alex Tettey. The pre-game sighting of a shoeless and crutches wielding Howson making his way gingerly round the back of the Barclay, is a concerning negative.
Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that without everyone’s favourite poster boy Ivo Pinto, Norwich looked altogether more stable defensively, until everyone decided to stop doing their jobs around the 75 minute mark. The only problem was without Pinto’s enthusiastic and energetic forays forward, Norwich were weakened offensively. The gaffer spoke post match about finding the balance between defence and attack, we’re still very much a work in progress in this regard.
Martin Olsson. Having first given a needless free-kick away in a dangerous position, Olsson then impressed us by arguing with the assistant just long enough to allow the rest of the side to get organised. Having done that, he proceeded to take leave of his senses and wander aimlessly back towards the area, picking his ear and looking at the Barclay. He arrived in the six yard box just in time to turn back towards the pitch and stand motionless as Alex Baptiste nodded the winner, completely unchallenged. It might be harsh on the Swede, who has certainly been one of the stand out performers of the season so far, but fuck it. We’re looking at you Martin.
The midfield duo of Dorrans and Tettey were also largely wasteful with possession. The ability to move the ball and switch the play quickly is integral to the system Alex Neil chooses to play.
Signs of improvement from the no-show against Rotherham, but the Canary faithful still have much more to give. The crowd seemed to be electro-shocked into life once Preston had broken the deadlock, yet the players needed us much more before then. Some sections of the support booing the team off both at half and full time is frankly ridiculous, we’re in this together people.
Let’s get this into perspective. Statistically Norwich were very much in the ascendancy. 18 shots compared to the visitors 7. A dominant 57% possession. 12 corners to Preston’s 4. On paper, had Norwich managed to sneak an opener and gone on to win the game, not many people would be complaining. The only problem is, football isn’t played on paper. Average or below par performances have been the mainstay of the campaign thus far at Carrow Road and it’s often Norwich’s individual quality that has got us out of jail at home during 2016/17.
That being said, Preston did a job on us and they did it well. We had chances, didn't take them and were punished accordingly. After Tuesday everyone said "3 points on Saturday and this will all be forgotten". Well we got nothing, but it's still replaced the midweek frustration. Football eh?
You can follow Jon and Andy on Twitter, @puntino and @andrew_lawn
With Gary Lineker raising the plight of refugees and being pilloried for it, Andrew Lawn asks what do refugees and immigration have to do with football? Everything.
A few months ago the official Norwich City FC twitter account shut down a bigot who asked what Pride had to do with football with one word; “everything”.
I was reminded of that this week, as The S*n and others pilloried Gary Lineker for daring to show compassion for refugees.
Along with the predictably ignorant abuse, Lineker has repeatedly been asked what that has to do with football and that he should stick to having opinions on his former profession and nothing else.
What has the plight of refugees have to do with football? Everything.
Football is all about community. We support our local football team, because it is a physical embodiment of the community we live in.
A football team is a group of individuals, from a variety of backgrounds, coming together as a team, focused on achieving success.
The act of showing compassion for and welcoming refugees is exactly the same: getting disparate people working together to a common goal – in this case to end unnecessary human suffering.
Whatever your political persuasion, no-one would wish suffering on a fellow human being and that is all Lineker has asked for in promoting the plight of these desperate people.
The suggestion that Gary has no right to call for this and should instead “stick to football”, is laughable, we don’t tell our friend Alan to shut up about his opinion on Cameron Jerome and stick to telling us about payroll do we? We all have opinions and, at least at the moment, we live in a time when we’re free to air them .If Gary Lineker wants to use his platform to raise the plight of those without a voice, good for him.
It strikes me that of all the areas of life that might be hostile to refugees, and immigration generally, that football is one. It is often said that football and politics shouldn’t mix, which ignores the fact that football has been political since its inception as a game by the people for the people.
While week after week, radio phone-ins, social media and pubs up and down the country are filled with excited talk of potential new signings or investment from abroad, without a hint of irony.
As fans, we have long recognised the positive contribution people from places other than Britain have made to the game we love. Think how much weaker City would be without Timm Klose, Ivo Pinto, Martin Olsson, Alex Tettey, Youssef Mulumbu even Wes, all of whom came here from outside the UK.
You might argue that elite athletes aren’t part of the same issue raised by Lineker, but that would be to discount the massive contribution former refugees have made to the game in this country.
Our own Kei Kamara for example, who City signed from Kansas City in January 2013.
Little was known about the Sierra Leone international, whose enthusiastic playing style and off-field personality, made him a fans’ favourite during his 6 month loan spell.
Kamara, who became the first Sierra Leonian to score a Premier League goal when he smashed an 84th minute equalising header past Everton’s Tim Howard, in a game we would go on to win 2-1, fled his homeland as a teenage refugee.
“He’s sitting in class and they hear explosions and they start running away,” Dave LaMattina, who directed a documentary helpfully named ‘Kei’ (which tells the story of Kamara’s journey from refugee to national superstar), told the BBC.
“He’s jumping over dead bodies and loses his brothers and has to go back to find them. Ever since the day bombs started exploding around schools he was a refugee.”
Kamara’s journey took him first to Gambia, before on to the US, where the opportunity to display his sporting prowess ultimately led to him nodding home in front of the River End, to the delight of Carrow Road and an adoring public back home.
Sierra Leone sports journalist Peter Makieu told the BBC: “For every Norwich City match the cinemas were packed with people watching Kei Kamara, when he scored against Everton the whole country was delighted. I couldn’t hold on to my emotions. Nobody cared about Norwich. But now everyone in Sierra Leone wants to watch Norwich play”.
It’s not just Kamara either. Saido Berahino, Fabrice Muamba, Shefki Kuqi, Maria Stanic, Lauren, Lorik Cana, Lomano LuaLua, Calvin Zola, Nashat Akram, Sharu Naraji, Islam Feruz, Abdisalam Ibrahim and Liban Abdi were all refugees who were forced to flee their homelands – the first two of which have since gone on to represent the England national team.
It’s no surprise there is copious amounts of talent amongst refugees given that a recent IPSOS Mori Survey carried out with refugees who had settled here showed that 42 per cent of respondents said that football was one of the three things they liked most about living in Britain.
What does not turning our backs on people and welcoming refugees have to do with football?