Following a raft of pieces imploring patience and understanding, we received numerous comments of the opposite viewpoint. Each time we offered to run the counter-argument, should someone wish to pen it. Charlie Horwood was the only one (so far) to take us up on the challenge. Here is his well-written retort.
A few years ago I got into watching the Walking Dead. For about 3 series it was a great show. Exciting, interesting and often pretty scary. However by series 5 I stopped watching as it became formulaic and predictable; the characters think they’ve found a safe place to rebuild their lives in the zombie infested wastelands, a bad guy turns up, it stops being safe, dead people attack, a character or two dies (but never bloody Carl, who is the absolute worst) they move on. By this point I was still tuning in out a sense of duty combined with a hope it might recapture its former glories but it was becoming a drag. So eventually I just stopped watching. An entirely reasonable, rational and sensible response to the situation. Why would I continue giving an hour or so of my week to a show I wasn’t enjoying, that just wasn’t as good as it had been previously? There are plenty of other things I could be doing with my time.
While I reckon I could stretch a TV show about a rag-tag group of underdog survivors trying to make a life with scant resources in a post apocalyptic wasteland into a metaphor for a couple of recent Norwich seasons I won’t. This is about why and how we support.
We could apply the same logic I did to the Walking Dead to following Norwich City, giving up watching when it gets bad, watching something else, but that would heresy. Love of a football team isn’t linked to logic or rationality. We support Norwich for a myriad of reasons, often due to the accident of being born nearby or to a parent who was indoctrinated by their parent or even because we liked the colour of the kits when we were children.
We’re wedded to a choice made in the haze of youth but changing isn’t an option when you’re an adult. Players, managers even owners can come and go across your time as a fan but that support never changes. No matter how good or bad the football is, how low down the footballing pyramid we fall there is no escape from the feeling in my very soul that this is my club, this is where I belong.
So what is my point? Fundamentally, everything about what makes us fans defies logic and common sense. The level of emotional control a football match can have over grown adults, the amount we care about what happens on the pitch is both ridiculous and amazing. What it certainly isn’t though is rational. So why do some expect rational response from a fundamentally irrational group?
The poor start to the season has seen an outpouring of frustration and a somewhat sanctimonious backlash from others. I’m aware, as I believe 95% of Norwich fans are, that we are a work in progress. Rebuilding takes times and we’re doing a whole lot of it right now on a tight budget. We’ve essentially gone from paling around with Kevin McCloud on Grand Designs debating which £1000 skylight to install to having to get Handy Andy off Changing Rooms to create us a defence out of MDF and some No More Nails.
Those on the higher ground tell us that these performances are to be expected, that if only we understood, like they do that we all have to be calm and not express our frustrations that it will work out. They tell us more ‘reactive’ fans to bite our lips and accept that a new playing system inevitably means conceding 12 goals in 5 games. Why can’t we all just be patient like them?
Because that would be rational. That would involve us setting aside the emotion and passion that makes being a fan so special, so unique. Football fandom is emotive not logical, based in the heart rather than the head. For me personally there are limits (booing your own players during a game is always going to be unhelpful) but I firmly believe that you can’t ask for a passionate crowd and a fierce atmosphere and then get pissed off that they react emotively to a humiliating 4-0 loss at Millwall.
In a perfect world, this will all click soon and we’ll be wondering why we were ever worried. Those who preached patience can say ‘I told you so’ and we can all enjoy another trip to the Premier League. Until then though I’m not going to get on anyone’s back for being frustrated or negative- it just the nature of beast.
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