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At AlongComeNorwich we are a little obsessed about doing all we can to improve the atmosphere at Carrow Road. Ahead of forthcoming fan consultations on the subject, Andrew Lawn has compiled his atmosphere wishlist and wants to know what you would like to see?
At AlongComeNorwich we are a little bit obsessed about the atmosphere at Carrow Road.
Having been season ticket holders for longer than we care to remember, we have experienced the lows; the 9,000 crowds, the silence that greeted much of Glenn Roeder's reign, the poison that ultimately saw off Worthy and which threatened to bubble over again this winter.
We have also experienced the highs; the colourful ear deafening days under Paul Lambert, the play-off push and then title-charge under Worthy and of course that successful play-off campaign under Alex Neil. There have also been many nights supporting the U23s with flags and swearword-free songs, that were warmly received by parents and youngsters alike.
We know which we prefer.
Of course, as is obvious from the above, there is a clear relationship between the team playing well and the atmosphere being good. What comes first is a moot point, it is clear the two go hand-in-hand. If you head to Carrow Road in a positive frame of mind, decked out in yellow and green and treat the game as a carnival, singing, clapping, or even dancing, chances are you'll enjoy it a lot more than sitting glumly awaiting the next misplaced pass.
Many of our contributors have written about their feelings regarding atmosphere from calls to arms from Neil Thompson, one of the founders of Barclay End Norwich, to a rising feeling of apathy from Lee Payne and Paul Blazey. The atmosphere at Carrow Road affects us all, fans, players, manager, club.
We return to the subject now because there are moves afoot to eradicate that apathy and make Carrow Road an (even more) fun, inclusive, loud, place to be.
We asked Ed Guichard who is Head of Marketing, what role the club could play;
"The atmosphere at Carrow Road is a pivotal ingredient to everyone's matchday - fans, players, media and staff - and a lot of work is going on behind the scenes to get it to the level we all desire.Clearly, a key part of all of this is fan consultation as there is little point in doing anything which hasn't had prior approval from the fans. As a result, we have been consulting with various fans over the last year, and will be doing so more moving forward to ensure that any initiatives are built by the fans, for the fans with the Club's help."
The first visible sign of this shift was unfurled across the Barclay Lower last Sunday, as a massive yellow "Making Anglia proud since 1902" banner appeared under a sea of ticker-tape and made its way across the stand and eventually all the way to the Directors Box to a deafening chorus of "Yellows, yellows". The tone was set.
The banner was an example of the club's willingness to engage with fans to improve the matchday experience, with consultations with supporter groups having already been run and more to follow shortly.
So with that in mind there are some things we would love to see added to the matchday experience at Carrow Road, both short-term and long-term, including;
The big one. Obviously this is not down to the club and requires a change in the law to allow safe-standing to be installed in the top 2 divisions of English football. Rail seats have long been installed in Germany (think Dortmund's yellow wall) and are being added around Europe all the time. Celtic unveiled theirs this season and more clubs are following suit. The spectre of Hillsborough has long cast a shadow on standing at football, but as the recent inquests and the experience of huge clubs around Europe have shown, rail seats are a safe option. Fingers crossed for a yellow wall of our own one day in the not too distant future.
Inspired by the Argentinians at the 1978 World Cup, ticker-tape is now a staple ingredient of a properly simmering atmosphere. Imagine a yellow and green sea of paper to greet the teams. How inspiring would that be for our players and how intimidating for the opposition? For a yellow and green example, here is FC Nantes in France greeting Nantes and Bordeaux back in 2014. Currently there is some ticker-tape at each home game, although this currently relies on individuals chopping up their yellow pages, it'd be great if a more coordinated effort with the club could be achieved, including potentially sourcing and distributing a biodegradable yellow and green alternative and getting it evenly distributed around the ground pre-match. We have unique colours in English football (sorry Hitchin), let's make the most of them.
The Nantes video leads nicely into flares and smoke bombs. Now obviously, it is currently illegal for fans to take flares or smoke bombs into grounds around the UK, but it is not illegal for the club to hold displays, similar to the firework style theatrics that have greeted the teams on big occasions in the last few years. What we would like to see is this replaced with safely managed smoke displays. Again a green and yellow smokey backdrop as the teams emerge to a sea of ticker tape would be inspiring stuff and certainly added to the carnival of the post Ipswich play off semi final win. If big goals were also greeted with some smoke, rather than tinny music over the PA system, it might further encourage fans not to attempt to smuggle in their own.
What quicker and more atmospheric way is there to inject a little colour and life into proceedings than some flags? Homemade versions have proven a huge success at U23 games, were kids have loved waving them about and getting fully into the party spirit that supporting a football team should be. Some of the kids the Barclay End Norwich gang got involved in those games, will no doubt have caught the NCFC bug and will go on to be fans for many years. Think also of the inspiring sea of red and white flags that adorn Anfield's Kop on matchdays.
Scarves up during OTBC
A very quick win but an effective one, encourage everyone to hold aloft their scarves during the pre-game OTBC. Again Liverpool's Kop provides the inspiration, but it is not difficult to imagine a sun drenched Barclay, scarfs aloft belting out On the Ball City. Better still, get a current player (who isn't in the matchday squad) or former legend to kick it off.
This list is not exhaustive and everyone reading this is likely to have their own views on what would and wouldn't make matchday at Carrow Road an even more exciting occasion.
The club will be consulting again with fans on this shortly;
As Ed explains; "following recent fan consultation on this subject, most recently through the annual Supporter Survey, we are due again to invite fans in to share their views on the atmosphere at Carrow Road and ideas on how it can be improved. Further details will be announced over the coming weeks so make sure you look out for ways to get involved.
"My second Monday in my role at the Club was spent at Wembley for the play-off final and the impression that day left on me, in particular the incredible sea of yellow and the noise coming from our end, will never leave me. My aim, and the Club's as a whole, is to get as close to that week in, week out at Carrow Road as the impact that had on the players that day cannot be underestimated. Let's all work together to make Carrow Road a placed to be envied."
In the meantime, this is what we would like to see, but what would you like to see?
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