The death of Sir John Hurt was marked by fans at Saturday's game. Proud Canaries' Di Cunningham has a little more insight into how this came about, and what it takes to be a part of the Yellow Army.
The real Armed Forces wouldn’t have me – insolent, untidy, dodgy knees - but I am, without doubt, a member of the Green and Yellow Army. There’s room for those who arrive late (less so it should be said for those who leave early), are drunk on duty or who don’t have the current uniform. In fact the bird poo patterns on the original 92-93 shirt are the equivalent of Sergeant’s stripes affording the wearer a little grudging respect
I am mildly surprised at my joy in being part of a massive group singing (and shouting - let’s not pretend we’re delivering complex harmonies together). I’m pretty sure I’m not a fascist, I know I can think for myself and - isn’t it quite puerile to chant at a keeper ‘You’re Sh*t Aaaaaaaah’?
Yes but it’s fun and we laugh at ourselves for suggesting that David Stockdale or Rob Green or Danny Ward is Sh*t; clearly they’re not. But we, in concert, might put them off a little. When Doherty replaced the sent off Ikeme for Wolves, Howson’s goal aside, the crowd had more impact in the box than the oddly shot shy players, with our baiting of the outfield player. And sure: ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ is a playground whine but when enough fans join in it can change an official’s behaviour if not the decision in question.
Remember Matt Etherington in 2004 placing the ball outside the quadrant to take a corner. Carrow Road bawled at the referee who placed it correctly and as the official turned to walk away and the West Ham player nudged the ball out of the arc – we yelled again, the ref trotted back and went through the motions once more. The third time - he was sent off. We did that.
Delia recognised the role of collective support with her ‘Let’s be avin’ you’ call to arms. As do the Barclay End Norwich with their rousing, seamless chants and songs; not only providing a fillip for the team but a hint of hope, cementing of victory, consolation in defeat or a sense of membership – for the game - the season - or beyond. Yes, you can sign up for life
The independence is in the nebulous nature of the Yarmy’s dominion - whose is it anyway? In the last few months it’s become clear that we ourselves decide who has sovereignty. Right now it’s vested with the civic home of the team, not in the manager. ‘We are the Norwich Yellow Army’ don’t you know.
But if I needed convincing why it’s ok to subsume my individuality to be part of the mass organism that is an aggregate of thousands of shouting, singing, clapping people clad in green and yellow polyester (fine - so these days it’s breathable) then Norwich v Birmingham would have swung it.
I woke to the sad news of the death of John Hurt and tweeted from the Proud Canaries account that he’d been at Carrow Road to meet us when we launched at the Spurs game in February 2014. Then I saw a Tweet from an Everton Blog claiming that Hurt was a Toffee (because he was in Z Cars!) Avoiding the term ‘Gobshite’ – we were mourning the great man after all – I set @ToffeeWeb straight … he’s one of our own, he’s Sir John Hurt – he’s one of our own.
By which time @patchyend (Andy Petch) tweeted Proud Canaries suggesting a minute’s silence would be in order. I agreed wondering if logistics might be tricky at short notice. Maybe we should have a fan generated response 77 minutes in; Hurt was 77. @CattonWhinger (Mark Lincoln), Rob Butler, and then big guns @CapitalCanaries decided this tribute would happen and the Retweets mounted up with the Social Media muscle of Talk Norwich City , Chris Reeves and Jack Holmes spreading the word .
In true non-regimented style I got to my seat late but just in time to hear and see an announcement from the club that supporters had arranged a minute’s applause at the 77th minute of the game. But the Carrow Road sound system is limited, and compelling as the screen is when it’s replaying a goal – does anyone actually look at it otherwise?
Cameron Jerome and Timm Klose‘s goals meant I had nothing to be anxious about other than the shout out for fans to honour Sir John. Maybe all those Tweeters weren’t actually going to the game, what if there was a short, quiet ripple and everyone else was muttering asking what was going on?
At 75 minutes Birmingham City had the ball and were bearing down on our goal. No one will clap if they score now! At 76 minutes Ruddy gathered the ball – keep hold of it! 76.45 we have it in their half. 77th minute of the 90 and I start to clap as loud as I can and my hands sting. There’s a picture of John Hurt on the screen and the loudest sustained applause I think I have ever heard fills the stadium for a full minute And then, at exactly 78 minutes as the applause fades, with wondrous organic spontaneity the Lower Barclay segues instantly into ‘There’s Only One John Hurt’, followed by a deafening rendition of ‘On the Ball City’. By now I am barely watching the game - sad at the loss of a great man, actor and City supporter to cancer but overwhelmed with love for the club and for the Yellow Army.
On Saturday that army belonged not just to Norwich but to John Hurt.
And like Everton, Birmingham didn’t stand a chance: ‘Always Sh*t on the old Blue and White’ (apologies Sir John - Rest in Peace).