Debut words today from Barclay E Blocker Emma Roache, on her relationship with our football club and why this was/is her favourite ever season.
I have been supporting Norwich since the early 90s, back when I was 11 or 12 years old. I didn’t have a dad around, so I got into football by watching it on TV and decided to support my local team. The rest is history.
I was lucky enough to be taken to my first few games by a friend’s father, sitting in the old South Stand. I loved it. I was hooked.
As time went by I started to go to games on my own, catching the Caroline Seagull coach from Great Yarmouth.
One drawback of embarking on my journey as a young canary in the early 90s, is that at the time I didn’t realise just what an achievement our UEFA Cup run was. I thought it was normal… how wrong was I?
Supporting Norwich in those days was not glamorous, the stadium was never full, and you could have your pick of a seat, even in the Barclay, with crowds of around 14,000 the norm.
When I got my first proper job, I made the decision to get a season ticket, choosing Block E of the Barclay as my spot. I have been there ever since.
Life has been pretty unkind to me at times and the only constant has been Norwich City FC. It is there through good times and bad, it gives you a focus, a regular outing to meet up with your mates, your footy family, a togetherness which many do not understand, that special bond with your fellow fans.
Don’t get me wrong, at times, supporting City has brought its own set of misery and disappointment, not to mention almost dying in a car accident after a pre-season friendly at Dereham, then struggling to the first game of the 2001-02 season away at Millwall, only to lose 4-0.
Somehow there is comfort in knowing that the ups and downs will come, there is more honour in supporting them when times are tough.
You can learn a lot about life from football, that there are tough times and good times, sorrows and joys, but the togetherness, belief, the vision in that common goal and that unconditional love for your team will get you through.
We’ve seen it this year, I remember the negativity after last season, the moans and groans and the desire for change, some even calling for Farke to leave.
I had a different vision, maybe what I do for a living helps with that, but I could see that given time we would have something special and said as much to the doubters, only to be smirked at or dismissed, change was needed. I stood by my belief, give him time, give the team time, they need time to gel, to settle and grow as one.
This season started off slowly, the moans and the negativity started again. I always say to people, show them encouragement and support, not criticism. I have often been told off for being too positive. I often reply; ‘how would you like it if you made a mistake at work and people shouted at you, surely encouragement would help much more?’
Then a small group of fans decided to put their money where their mouths were. The Along Come Norwich and Barclay End Norwich boys, they knew that showing support, building atmosphere was what we needed. They got together and made a plan, soon a few flags arrived, just a few rows to start with and I don’t mind saying, that in the beginning I felt pretty silly, waving a flag.
Then there were more and more. Looking around, people were loving waving them. Scarves around the ground followed and just take a look at us now, everyone wants to be involved.
The team also started to find their feet and the results started to flow, people started to see that something special was happening at our little club.
Together we could do this.
Don’t under estimate the power of positivity and the impact of the fans. The flags, the scarves, the singing, the togetherness has helped get us through. Singing the team home, keeping the energy going until the last minute of the game, often getting that crucial last minute winning goal, even an equaliser from nowhere has made all the difference.
I got a bit choked up Saturday when all the stands were on their feet, scarves in the air and singing, I have never seen anything like it at Carrow Road, it even makes me emotional writing about it now.
There have been many highlights over the years, winning promotion in 2004, subsequent promotions, beating ‘that lot’ down the road in the playoffs, to then go on to win at Wembley, again something I never imagined in my wildest dreams.
But nothing compares to this season. After my experience as a young fan, I remember on the train home after winning the derby at Carrow Road, saying to a 15 year old, remember this, not just today, but this whole season, this is something that doesn’t come around very often and you have no idea how special it is, make sure you enjoy every moment.
This season has so many special moments, last minute winners, amazing comebacks and star players all over the pitch. I couldn’t even pick a Player of the Season, because so many have done so much. Never have I known a team play so well together, while being so individually brilliant. The players, the coaching staff, the club as a whole, the fans, the entire city, I have never known a time like it. Such special times to treasure forever, when we really are ‘One City Strong.’
So to everyone who played their part, I thank you.