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Tuesday, November 22, 2011
I can probably count on both hands the number of times I’ve been to see City play in recent years.
While I don’t like to consider myself a plastic fan, a lot of people will probably argue otherwise.
I should have known that it wasn’t going to be my, or City’s, day after being woken at 5am on Saturday morning by my one-year old. Apparently it’s acceptable to be up and about at that hour. A few cups of coffee and a bacon sarnie later and I was making the 45-minute walk to Kettering train station.
My comparatively short two-hour train journey to Villa Park began at 9.30am. It would prove to be some time before I met a fellow Canary. My journey to Leicester was dull and uneventful. The journey’s highlight, if it can be seen as such, was the barrage of disapproving stares aimed in my direction when cracking open the beers that early in the day.
I arrived in Leicester around 10am. Still, unbelievably, no football fan in sight. Boarded the 10.15 to Birmingham New Street; a train which would have to go down as one of the most uncomfortable journeys of my life. I was unfortunate enough to be sat next to a young girl whose i-pod seemed to be stuck on the highest volume possible.
I got into Birmingham at 11.15 after listening, passively, to the same i-pod song over and over and over again.
The friend I had planned to meet for a beer had left me a voicemail on the journey letting me know that he was not going to be able to make it, so I decided to head straight to the nearest pub and track down some Norwich fans.
Co-incidentally, the very first Norwich fan I bumped into was a lad I’d exchanged a couple of tweets with a few days prior to the game. We said that if our paths crossed we’d go for a beer, so I found it pretty amazing that he was literally the first Norwich fan I saw that day.
Adam was sitting with Mark, who had made the trip down from Leeds. Both were waiting for their friends to arrive from London – they were delayed due to an over-head power line failure at Euston. We stayed in the Shakespeare for a few beers and shots before a few more City fans arrived. Col arrived from Norwich at around 12 so we decided to go for a walk about town to find a few more bars.
We managed to find somewhere showing the Wolves game, but didn’t pay much interest in that.
A fair few pints/shots and songs later and we headed back to New Street to catch the Witton train to Villa Park. By this time City fans were in abundance, exchanging friendly banter with Villa fans on the train. A few more beers in the Witton arms and we decided to head towards the ground.
To be honest, by this time I wasn’t really in a state to appreciate the ground; was just looking forward to kick off. I do remember ripping the stub off my ticket, which apparently I shouldn’t have done – and having to persuade the guy on the gate to let me in.
The Villa fans were in good voice, but the away end was better. “Empty seats m’lord, empty seats”. When Pilks fired that free-kick into the top corner everyone felt it was going to be our day. A few naive defensive errors and before you knew it City were 3-1 down. I think I had a pie at half-time. From what I can remember the game started to get a bit stretched before the end and if we’d have had another five minutes you felt we could have got the equaliser.
Despite the loss everyone around me seemed to be in reasonably high spirits, even more so in the pub a few hundred metres up from Witton train station. By this time it was getting on towards 6.30pm and we decided to make tracks back to New Street and wait for our respective trains.
I think we missed a few of our trains as time seemed to fly by, waiting back in the Shakespeare. A few Tamworth fans arrived who were a good laugh.
As we were leaving Simeon Jackson was walking through the train station – I think we must have scared him as he seemed quite eager to have his photo taken and head off to catch his train. Top bloke though!
The last time I’d been to see Norwich play must be at least four or five years ago now, and I honestly don’t know why it’s taken me so long to see them again.
I’ve met friends in Adam (@Lamps14), Mark and Colin that I’m definitely going to keep in touch with. Legends.
• If you would like the chance to report on a Norwich City game this season - home or away - please contact Peter Raven on email@example.com