Your heart quickens as you push through the turnstile and greet the steward, slightly more rotund than 3 months ago, with a quick nod. Did he always have his ear pierced?
As you squeeze through the concourse avoiding the ever increasing queue for the ladies the first strains of chants reach your ears and the nerves and excitement ratchet up another notch.
You turn into the stairwell and get a first glimpse of the pristine green pitch and the unmistakable sound of a firm but wayward shot from the opposition's warm up whistling towards the head of an unsuspecting, programme reading first-timer.
Climbing the steps towards your row, you nod to the familiar faces from seasons past and make a note of who is missing and who is new.
Reaching your seat you exchange the traditional "Alright? How was your summer? Good to be back" with your nearest neighbours whose names you don't know but who will hug you more times over the next 9 months than your kids.
Everything at this point is rosy. Newness is fertile ground for seeds of optimism and anticipation to flourish and their fruits are being harvested in your heart and brain as the teams emerge.
Then the game kicks off and all of that is shattered as the moron, who sits just far enough away for you to hear every word they sprout, pipes up for the first time.
You know the one. The know-it-all-know-nothing who thinks every decision is a conspiracy and every misplaced pass a sackable offence. It's the same guy who shouts "You should've gone to Specsavers ref". The guy who you can't even escape during the summer months as he also rocks up at Wimbledon and Lords shouting "Come on Tim" to Andy Murray, or greeting every Mohammed Amir delivery with "No ball", guffawing each time. It's the guy who makes a vocalised buzzer sound if someone gets a question wrong and points "You're the weakest link, goodbye". You know the one.
Well this year take that pain away, or at least channel it into something more enjoyable; Moron Bingo.
The rules are simple, every time Mr (or Ms) Moron chirps up with one of the following, you let out an ironic cheer and tick it off the list.
Once you have the full set (often takes less than a full 90 minutes) shout "Moron Bingo" and the win is yours.
Eyes down and ears up. Let's play Moron Bingo.
"You musta come on a skateboard" - Normally quite early on the moron will consider the away fans. Be there 100 or 5,000 the retort is the same.
"My Nan wudda scored that" - Wrong in many regards. First off, she almost certainly wouldn't even if she had been allowed to play, which she wouldn't as this a men's team. She probably wouldn't have passed the pre-game fitness test had she got special dispensation from the FA anyway.
"Stop fannying around, git it out" - Any time the defence or goalkeeper plays a pass of less than 100 miles this is trotted out. For some reason the moron has a real aversion to any kind of possession and would much rather our back line deliver the ball immediately to the opposition's back line, than keep hold of it themselves.
"Git it fuhwood" - Along a similar theme to the above and particularly prevalent if we're not leading, the moron appears to believe that we have more chance of scoring if the ball is closer to the opposition's goal, regardless of who actually has control of it.
"Git it in the box" - Like "gitting it fuhwood", putting the ball into the box, even if it is only Wes stood between two 6'4 central defenders, is by far more preferable than recycling possession and coming back to go forward.
"Shoooooot" immediately followed by "wad he hit that fuh?" - The missed contradiction is possibly the most infuriating aspect of this one. The cry of "shoot" is not annoying in itself but if, as is likely, that shot fails to wedge itself gloriously in the stantion, the follow up "wad he hit that fuh?" should lead to immediate ejection from the ground and a possible life ban. For bonus points there is the equally infuriating; "Tek him orn" then as soon as the player is tackled "Why dit he pass fuh?"
"Wad he do that fuh?" - Subtley different from "hit", the "do" in this implies the player in question deliberately fucked up. I have seen teams containing luminaries like Darryl Sutch, Mark Fotheringham, Raymond De Waard and Des Hamiltion and not once in my Norwich watching years have I seen a player make a deliberate mistake.
"Dut hit the fust man" - A particular bug bear of mine given my thoughts on hitting the first man generally, this was always going to feature. The additional aspect of being a) not what was intended, b) not the worst thing that could happen with a corner and c) offered long after the horse has bid goodbye to the stable makes this finger twitchingly awful.
"Git up you pouf" - The first in the list that is actually offensive rather than just annoying. It may not be meant as homophobic but the implication is clear. Sadly still prevalent whenever anyone, City player or opponent, stays down for longer than deemed necessary from 100 yards away.
"Whooooo?" - The ubiquitous greeting to any opposition substitution. You know who, they just announced it over the tannoy AND on the scoreboard.
"Sort it out Neyul" - Often it is not clear exactly what Alex Neil is meant to "sort out" when this is hollered. Often accompanying a misplaced pass, mistimed tackle, or failed interception, the utter dimness of a request for a man who was not involved to "sort out" an event that has already passed (pun not intended) is enough to make you weep.
"Wadda they wuk orn hin traynun haul week?" - Can appear at any time, but often when a throw-in is intercepted or a goal kick just clears the head of its target and sails out. Now I'm not privy to training but I'm guessing they cover more than just throw ins and given maybe 1 in 50 is intercepted, they probably have the balance right. Double points if you hear it on a Tuesday night when we also played Saturday.
"Why cart he kick ut strayt?" - Often following the above after a goal kick goes out for a throw-in. This one shows a particularly basic misunderstanding about what they are watching. For the moron the purpose of a goal kick is just that - a kick, from near the goal by the man in goal. The fact that quite evidently our big striker has gone and stood on their smallest full back and the goalkeeper is clearly trying to make full use of this advantage by hitting said man, 50 yards away, with no margin for error on one side, is apparently beyond them. It could barely be more obvious. You don't even need to understand football to spot this, just basic pattern and shape recognition would be enough.
"Hanball ref" - This one applies only in certain circumstances so we'll put it last. Appealing for a genuine handball is fine. Mocking the opposition after they have appealed for a ridiculous handball by shouting "handball" every time anyone else touches the ball is fine. It is those ridiculous appeals where "hanball ref" enters the realm of Moron Bingo. Typically hollered when the ball goes anywhere near an opponent's chest or even head anywhere within their penalty box, it's not just wrong, it's desperate.
Let the games begin.