TERRI’S EUROPEAN DIARY

18/10/18

Continuing our week of European memories, Terri Westgate looks back at her European adventure, taking in Vitesse, Muinch and Milan, all without a camera.

As one slowly settles down in middle age, usually with a nice cup of tea and Gardener's World on the TV, it's difficult not to occasionally get caught up in a touch of nostalgia. Football fans who hark on about their past are ripe for mocking (now who could I be talking about there...), and generally I am a very much "live for the moment" kinda spirit. Ask my bank manager. (Do we even have bank managers anymore? Aren't all institution's financial decisions just an algorithm in a mainframe?)

Anyway, I digress...This last week on the social medias a few fellow supporters shared their photos from 25 years ago. Back a quarter of a century Norwich had proved to be the third best team in England, and we got our one and only dalliance across the North Sea to compete on the continent. A small band of us hardy souls made the trip to that first away game, mainly by a coach and ferry round trip, to the Dutch town of Arnhem.

The match itself was fairly insignificant; we were 3-0 up from the first leg, and the second can be best described as goalless. In fact I don't remember anything about the game. But those shared photos brought back so many other memories.

To be honest, most of us where still in shock about the previous season. Expectations had been low, with an inexperienced manager and a seemingly average squad. Yet I had walked out of Carrow Road after a rare victory over Wimbledon, stating disbelievingly "We're eight points clear! EIGHT points!"

It was all drama to the end. We slipped to third, secured by a tense draw away at Middlesbrough on the last day. Then had to watch on the edge of our seats, as Arsenal eventually won their second domestic cup of the season - the only way we would get into the UEFA cup. But it happened. And I had a sneaky suspicion it may be a once-in-a-lifetime event (hopefully, there are still many years ahead for me to be proven wrong) and proceeded to work 40 hour weeks over the summer at Gateway supermarket in Lowestoft, to save up as much cash as possible for the adventure ahead.

So it came to pass, and a few months later I'm standing on a terrace in The Netherlands watching a rather dull game of football. Frustratingly in the photos posted at the weekend I am either absent, just out of shot, or behind someone's arms. But I most definitely WAS THERE. Still a teenager, still with many mistakes to make and life lessons to learn. In my egg and cress shirt, with Polston on the back, singing On The Ball City till my throat was sore.

It was several years before I had a mobile phone, and I had decided not to risk my camera for the journey (I'd have probably left it in a bar anyway). So I have no photos from that trip, or the two that followed in Munich and Milan. I have ticket stubs and programmes, I have an Inter scarf I swapped with a fan in their stadium, but no images of me there. However I am very grateful for all those who did take the risk, and snapped away (remember when there was a limit to how many photos you could take, so each seemed precious?? I feel like I'm from the dark ages...). Those images on Twitter brought it all back, proved that it wasn't all some surreal dream.

All those images I have on my phone and computer of meals I've eaten, alcohol I've drunk, hundreds of selfies that all look much of a muchness. Eating up storage on my phone and laptop, and rarely reviewed. Would I even notice if they were all wiped? I have photos from the Millennium stadium, and there are a few from Wembley, and many other away trips in the last few years.

But back in the 90's I had need to gain proof that I was there, I just enjoyed the fact I was. I'm not one to dwell on nostalgia, but I do occasionally like to sit down with a beer and recall tales from back in the day. And there are many from that brief, but eventful European tour.In fact if you buy me a pint I will probably bore you for an hour with them. Well unless Monty Don is about to tell me about my gardening jobs for the weekend...

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