EXPAT PRIDE IN ONE CITY STRONG

25/04/19

An ACN debut for you today as Luke Butcher pens the words, all the way from Seoul, on how this team and this club can define a city half a world away

Since leaving the UK back in September 2009 and moving the other side of the world there have not been many boring seasons as an expat Norwich fan.

From the ups of two straight promotions, upsetting the odds in the Premier League and the Wembley win, to the downs of two relegations, it has been a rollercoaster ride throughout, but there has been no better time than now.

Last season was the first time it became a real struggle to watch games in the dead of night or the early hours of the morning. Even in the relegation seasons it was never a problem to get yourself up despite our ever-increasing chances of a dismal defeat to a team spending our entire budget on a goalkeeper because there was some suspense there, but the mediocrity and seeming meaningless of the second half of last year became a grind. That has changed since the Boro home game earlier in the season, and the glorious attacking attitude and never-say-die spirit of this iteration of Norwich City comes across even from thousands of miles away.

I have lived in Seoul, South Korea for the vast majority of the past 10 years, which has certainly been a benefit to some extent with the invent of Ifollow, the expat Norwich fan's dream. Overseas yellows can in many ways probably tell you more about this Farke team than those living in the fine city itself.

For me, the two key elements to this season has been the inclusion of Marco Steipermann in the attacking midfield role and having two strikers in the squad that want the ball in behind the defence and in the box. Marco may not be the most visually aesthetic players, looking like an awkwardly growing gangly cactus in the middle of a flower bed, but the physical element and totally unpredictable dribbling that he brings to the team has added a new dimension.

With Pukki and then Rhodes stretching the play far better than Oliveira did at any point last season, the space for our excellent passers has opened up to produce football that is the ultimate mix of beautiful but brutally deadly.

As we have risen up the table and the team has blossomed into a consistent point-winning machine, the club stature has grown and the team are starting to get attention from beyond Cromer's shores. When you are in the Norwich bubble it is easy to underestimate just how much a successful football team effects the city's exposure and the extent to which the English game is watched abroad.

Having been in the Premier League for four seasons over the past decade our club is certainly not an unknown entity in these parts. When a Korean football fans asks what team I support here, the most common response is 'ah... the team that play in bright yellow?' The Premier League is watched almost religiously among football fans here, and is at its peak at the moment with Heung-min Son playing such a leading role at Spurs, and this means even a team with a brief stay in the top flight will be etched in the memories of fans.

That is exactly why a return to the Premier League is not just about football and will bring benefits outside of Carrow Road's walls. Creating a positive image of the city and having a team to be proud is something that can only be good for fans outside Norfolk.

Yes, from a commercial point of view the benefits will be there, although in places outside of Europe it is realistically very difficult to compete with clubs with the pulling power of the big six English clubs. It would take Norwich signing a successful Korean player to really make a dent here, and however massive an effect that would have (think the effect Pukki has had in Finland and multiply it by a few hundred), Webber and co. don't seem the type that make decisions on player signings for commercial reasons over ability.

But it is not all about the bank balance. After the Leeds win the first articles on Korean sports sites about Norwich and what's happening to our club started to appear. If we can make an impact next season in the Premier League, and I would certainly not put that beyond Webber and Farke, no doubt that the Norwich name will become recognisable to all football fans here and in the far-flung corners of the world.

To give you the extent the team can represent the city, the Burnley example is an excellent one. I was surprised when we discuss the Premier League here how it was possible to for fans to easily talk about the great work Sean Dyche has done there and the way they play, doggedly defending their own box while playing a direct and aggressive style in attack. It's confusing it was to hear people that have never been to the UK and previously would not have been able to pick Burnley out on a map talk about how Burnley represent a very gritty British way of playing and how they like their up-and-at-them style that chimes with the team's traditions.

This is more what a successful club with a clear set of values and a well-executed plan can do.
Webber and Farke will now hopefully have a chance to put that vision and what we stand for on a more global stage and present an image of Norwich as 'One City Strong' in the most watched league in the world, a club does things differently to take on the big boys with a philosophy of putting a team together of misfits and young-guns to play a brand of passing and brave football.

What this team has done even without promotion will mean a lot of us outside the country being able to say we are Norwich fans with a strong sense of pride, and above all that is what we want from our club wherever we live.


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