CONFESSIONS OF A HAPPY CLAPPER

17/01/18

Terri Westgate is what the angry mob would call a "happy clapper". She's willing to give Farkelife time to bed in, willing to endure a few defeats while the club goes through a sweeping review and willing to sing even when we're not winning. 'Happy clapper' is a badge she wears with pride and here she explains why...

Me, I'm old skool. Toughened up on the old Barclay Terrace, resting on a crash barrier and hurling abuse at the away pen. Back when football supporters were hardcore, and following your team was affordable and fun.

Of course, that's a myth. In the early 90's there were still a lot of issues that could make being a fan unpleasant. You would still hear racist and homophobic chanting (though it was on the way out), sexism was rife and - with myself being vertically challenged - terracing didn't always provide a great view of the match. If at all.

But what swayed me from being just a football fan watching a game in my first match (League Cup vs Watford, 26 Sept 1990) to being a fully-fledged NCFC supporter (vs Liverpool, 20 Oct 1990), was not what just happened on the pitch. It wasn't just the superb display against the best team in the old first division and a star turn by up and coming striker Lee, Lee, Lee Power! It was standing on that terrace, close to the away support, and enveloped in a noisy, passionate crowd.

After that game I went straight to the club shop and bought my first Norwich scarf, and I have not looked back since. The following summer I purchased my first season ticket (for the Barclay, it goes without saying) and only once have I willingly given it up.That was for off the field reasons during the Chase Out! era, and to compensate I travelled to nearly every away match so I could still support the team.

As long as I can afford it, and am able to attend games, I will always renew my season ticket. Relegation to League One didn't cause a moment of consideration on the matter. When I first bought that scarf, it wasn't because I had been entertained (though it was a spirited effort), it was because I had found my tribe. It was the atmosphere, the singing, and being part of a community that I was buying into as well.

I call myself a supporter. I am there to support the team, however they are playing and whatever division we are in. We. How easily we refer to the ups and downs of the club's fortunes as our own. We feel part of their success and are crushed with relegation. It's all part of being a fan. You are not a passive bystander, you are part of the game.

If things aren't going well, if a goal is conceded, that's when the team need your support more. I remember shouting myself hoarse during the 1-0 defeat at home to Middlesbrough in April 2015, using all my strength to will us a goal right to the final whistle (it didn't work, but we got the ultimate revenge at Wembley).

I can forgive players for having the odd bad game. I can be patient for improvement when I know the club is going through so many changes. Yet supporters not supporting their team - booing and actively chanting that they are shit - that I will never understand.

That Brentford game before Christmas, when things got nasty in the crowd. When all those fans who couldn't be bothered to sing for the team, suddenly had the energy to vociferously air their complaints, that was the closest I have got in a long while in not wanting to renew. It had nothing to do with the performance on the field - I can handle a few defeats while we wait and see how this project evolves. It was the nasty, vitriolic atmosphere that surrounded me. I wanted no part of that.

In the following days there were lots of social media posts about not renewing season tickets, some of which seemed little more than petulant threats to try and force change. However, this actually gave me hope. Maybe all those angry booers would soon disappear from the ground, and I would be left with my fellow happy clappers to support my team. Perhaps I wouldn't have to trade in Carrow Road for Crown Meadow and Kingsmeadow to enjoy a day at the football after all.

However better results followed, topped by an excellent away win recently at Bristol City, and things aren't looking quite so dire. The talk of not renewing has died down, and my contemplations of alternative routes to get my footy fix were forgotten. I hope that Webber and Farke get the chance to finish this project, and obviously I want it to end in success.

But if it doesn't, if even the worst happens and we have a second sojourn in League One, I will still renew. I'll still be on the back row of the Barclay, and I will sing myself hoarse whenever the team need my support most. If that makes me a happy clapper, then I am proud to wear that badge. It's adouble-sided one, with "loyal supporter" written on the other side.

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