Danke, Daniel

07/11/21

On a sad weekend for the football club, here's Maddie Mackenzie to say a very personal thank you to a man who meant so much to her. We hope he reads this......

My love for Daniel Farke has always been treated as a bit of a running joke: that he could do no wrong in my eyes, that I’d be forced into a period of mourning when the dreaded day of his departure finally arrived. Football is cyclical, after all, and although I’ve denied it for 4 years, I obviously knew he would, eventually, have to leave.

Now he has, and I’m not sure I have the right words to sum it all up.

I was on the coach home from Brentford when the news began trickling through. It was coming from sources we didn’t know, regurgitated by people we didn’t trust – of course it was nonsense! Hadn’t we just won? Hadn’t we just seen him, only a few hours ago, surrounded by his players and celebrating with his fans? We’d only just stopped discussing our plans to finally watch Match of the Day after so long away. The celebratory tweets were still coming.

Then the embargo lifted.

Suddenly people were saying “thanks for everything” and “it was probably the right time”. We were only just entering Norfolk, still full of adrenaline and thankful to have been there to witness our first win of the season. If we weren’t home yet, we knew he couldn’t be.

Everything about it felt wrong, a cruel trick, a dream you were desperate to awake from.

I’ve told the story of why I have so much faith in Daniel Farke, why he will always be more to me than a manager. In truth, I’ve elevated him to a point so high in my estimations that when he did fail, it hurt all the more. I only got my season ticket in October 2018 as part of the half season ticket offer the club was running. At the time, I was in the midst of a mental health crisis: a recent uni dropout, declared ‘unfit to work’ thanks to crippling obsessive compulsive disorder, and severely depressed, I could barely get out of bed in the morning. In a short period of time I’d become a complete social recluse.

Enter, of course, Daniel Farke.

During the 2017/18 season I’d made it to a few games, mostly 0-0s that didn’t feel particularly inspiring – but Daniel Farke caught my attention. He was so different. Humble, accepting of his mistakes, prowling the touchline like a man possessed. I was a fan. Come November 2018 and the Millwall 4-3 and I was done for. There wasn’t a Farke interview I hadn’t watched, not a video of his waves I hadn’t had on repeat. Daniel Farke told us to be at Carrow Road, so I went.

It’s a complete cliché to say that as the team grew in confidence, so did I, but clichés are only so because they’re true. That season introduced me to friendships I know will last a long time. It gave me Along Come Norwich, the flags, a reason to get out of bed and get better.

So much of that is down to Farke. I spend a frankly ridiculous amount of time thinking about where I’d be without him, and in my head he’ll forever represent the recovery of both me and Norwich. I can’t say it better than I’ve said it before: “it was his exuberance in interviews, his total faith in the players, his single-minded belief that his style of play could work that showed me I had to be at Carrow Road. His call to arms, telling us to flood the stands and cheer the team over the line.” As I say, the pedestal I’ve put him on is terrifying in its grandeur.

It’s selfish, though, to spend an entire piece about Farke talking about myself. What of the players?

When you think about it, the amount of careers and lives he’s changed is staggering. He turned Pukki from ‘that bloke who was rubbish for Celtic’ into a household name. He gave Krul a chance and stuck with him when others would have twisted. He turned James Maddison and Emi Buendía into award winning individuals. He trusted Max Aarons, Jamal Lewis, Todd Cantwell, Ben Godfrey, Adam Idah, Andrew Omobamidele, Josh Martin, Angus Gunn. Who else would hand an 18-year-old their league debut away from home in a local derby?

Our 2018/19 team was full of players who’d been on the fringes of the footballing world. Players who, like Farke, had a point to prove and who had been given a platform to prove it. We were mocked for having a squad of 2. Bundesliga reserves. Of players no one had ever heard of. Well, they’ve heard of them now.

Then there’s the moments! Those small pockets of brilliance that are still as vivid in the mind as the day they happened. The wink. Boxing Day 2018. City Hall. Man City. Spurs. Forget telling the grandkids about them, we still haven’t managed to stop relaying our own individual tales of each of them to each other. At the epicentre of all of them, the architect of these magic moments, is Daniel Farke.

Not to diminish his contributions off the pitch. It’s no secret that things were not well at Norwich by the end of his first season, and it’s frankly scary to think of where the club would be if James Maddison had not been transformed into a £20+ million player. Farke steadied a ship facing tumultuous waves and came out the other side with two Championship trophies. Between the players, the staff, the fans – the amount of people who owe Daniel Farke and his staff a debt is staggering.

In those four years my faith in him wavered only once. Chelsea was a dark day; we’d been humiliated (to be fair I also had a horrific headache so my judgement was sketchy) and I found myself genuinely wondering if things could turn around. It’s at this point that Webber and I diverged. The Leeds performance was, if anything, harder to watch than Chelsea, but I was stuck in the ground long after the final whistle and stood metres away from Farke as he attended to his post-match duties. His shoulders were slumped. He looked miserable. He’d taken it just as badly as I had. I saw the man who’d given me football, a support network, and suddenly couldn’t imagine not having him there. Webber saw a man at the end of his journey.

It is, of course, why Stuart Webber is the Sporting Director and we are the fans: he is ruled by his head when our hearts take over. That didn’t make the events of Brentford any easier.

Finding out that Farke was just as clueless as the fans and the players concerning what eventually unfolded was almost as bad as hearing the announcement himself. Picturing him and Webber, alone in that away dressing room. Addressing the players at Colney. It’s been said that surely he couldn’t have been completely blindsided, but I saw him at Brentford. He was relieved. Delighted to give the fans what he knew they deserved. He didn’t know that conversation was coming any more than we did.

But come it did, and here we are. It’s finally over. I’ve never met Daniel Farke. I now never will. There was no chance to tell him what he meant, what he still means to me, what he did for a person he doesn’t and will never know.

That is the responsibility of everyone at the club. Every player who has been made better by his coaching. Every board member who still has a club to run. I hope they let him know what he did for them. Let him know that he was appreciated, that he gave people a chance, that he turned careers around. Whoever follows has one hell of a job to live up to.

After all.

There’s only one Daniel Farke.

Comments

  1. Michael Saunders says:

    Great stuff. It does feel like a period of mourning ☹️

    I’ll shamelessly quote Walt Whitman…

    O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
    The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
    The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
    While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
           But O heart! heart! heart!
             O the bleeding drops of red,
               Where on the deck my Captain lies,
                 Fallen cold and dead.

    O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
    Rise up- for you the flag is flung- for you the bugle trills,
    For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths- for you the shores a-crowding,
    For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
           Here Captain! dear father!
             This arm beneath your head!
               It is some dream that on the deck,
                 You’ve fallen cold and dead.

    My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
    My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
    The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
    From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
           Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
             But I with mournful tread,
               Walk the deck my Captain lies,
                 Fallen cold and dead.

  2. Karen Nichols says:

    Brilliant piece. I’m sure many others are feeling exactly the same.
    He connected so well with the fans. Whoever takes his place will have a big gap to fill.

  3. Kit Circuit says:

    Beautifully composed Maddie.

    Heartbreakingly true to how I feel too.

    I love Norwich City more than anything, but while Daniel has been manager, have felt closer to them than ever before.

    And that’s been down to one man.

    If ever a manager had Norwich City in his blood, it is he. But more than anything, he is a good man.

    Kind, brave, humble, compassionate.

    Like you Maddie, I will forever be grateful and never forget what you have given us Daniel.

  4. Nick says:

    What a superb, articulate & heartfelt tribute to the boss.
    Very well done & long May you remain well.

  5. Robert says:

    Beautiful piece, Maddie, and a fitting tribute to the great man. People can go on all they want about his PL record, but football is about way more than stats. What he did for our club is immeasurable. OTBC.

  6. Valerie Rogers says:

    Brilliant article. Sums up Farkes tenure so well

  7. Stephen Curnow says:

    A lovely piece.

  8. James Hewison-Carter says:

    Great article. Daniel has made such a positive difference to our club, our city, our self belief. I know I’ll not be alone in missing him greatly.

    As with all things they come to an end. Is this too soon? I feel it is, but that’s from the outside looking in.

    I hope he and his trusted colleagues go on to great things and wish them all every success.

    Thank you Daniel Farke, a true Norwich Hall of Famer.

  9. Neil Whitham says:

    Superb article.

  10. John Polston says:

    Beautifully put. In the end I was a Farke out. As a club we should be eternally grateful for him. Such beautiful football. Alas the next step appeared beyond him. Thank you Daniel and your team. Always canaries!

  11. Richard says:

    Lovely. Have we just passed on 1 of the best developers of young talent of his generation? In deference to Webber? I suspect we may have done. Summer 2021 was definitive, it would seem, regards this outcome: who we signed/when they arrived as well as who we sold. Has Webber created the mess and now compounded it? We are about to find out.

  12. Just a random Norwich fan says:

    Beautiful piece. Daniel, if you do ever read this article, thank you for everything.

  13. Jutta Mortlock says:

    Pithy, punchy, and to the point that we all want to make. Someone please make sure Daniel Farke gets to read this. Danke, Daniel, dafür, dass Du uns alle inspiriert hast durch Deine Art Fussball zu spielen.

  14. Paul Eaton says:

    Fantastic piece. What I loved about Farke, he brought football back to the fans. All the unknowns and turned them into stars. Steipermann, Hernandez, Zimmermann, Pukki, Emi, all the youngsters.

  15. Neal Luther says:

    Greats article and you can feel it’s written with passion and from the heart. In future years this will be remembered for the good times, the wins, the titles and “where were you at Forest, Millwall, Man City and Spurs etc.
    Daniel, thank you for your dedication to NCFC. You may be gone but your legacy will live on. One day, just one day it would be great to see you visit “our living room” again
    Best of luck for the future and thank you

  16. Martin says:

    Lovely, lovely piece. Daniel Farke – for all his oddities and weaknesses (like the rest of us) is my favourite manager of all time. He truly changed the club and inspired me, too.

  17. Fallguy says:

    Felt very emotional reading that piece. So many treasured memories of the Farke years have come flooding back, but it was so much more than what happened on the pitch. It is important to me to support a club that has values and a moral compass. Daniel Farke fitted that template perfectly. His warmth, integrity and decency shone like a beacon in a sport that has truly lost its way.

    This is my 50th year of supporting this football club, there has never and never will be a manager I love more than Daniel Farke.

    I’m sure ACN will find a way of letting Daniel know how much he means to so many.

  18. Bev says:

    Brilliant article and yes I was nodding at all the memories, replaying the Boxing Day game and the Jeff stelling/Bianca Westwood commentary on sky and it still gives me goosebumps.
    A fantastic manager who loved our club and the fans.
    Good luck with whatever the future brings Mr Farke

  19. Kevin O'Connor says:

    What a beautiful and deserved tribute!
    I love the city that has adopted me and I have had wonderful moments in nearly 50 years of going to Carrow Road, mainly as a season ticket holder.
    However, I have never felt as close to a manager and the team as under Daniel Farke. He understood the integrity and sense of adventure at the heart of the city and the club. Thank you so much Daniel for what you gave us.

  20. Roger Brown says:

    Superb article – a fitting tribute.
    A measure of someone is often how others see us. I have numerous friends who support many other football clubs and can honestly say I have never heard a single bad word from any of them about our Daniel. Like most here I will follow with great interest his further progress wherever it is life now takes him.

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Punt and Parsley are joined by Edie Mullen and Paul Buller to say their goodbyes to Daniel, look forward to the new gaffer and take your random questions.....