May 22 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
It seemed, at first, bizarre. Five minutes into one of Blackburn’s most crucial games in years, and their supporters began a succession of chants calling for the head of manager Steve Kean.
Norwich had started well, but not spectacularly so, and Blackburn were still very much in the game.
In the away end, we looked at each other completely bemused.
Some murmured that they deserved to go down if that’s how they ‘supported’ their team, others chose to remark, in song form, “£15, and you can’t sell out” – a reference to the slashed ticket prices which still couldn’t entice the citizens of Blackburn to bury the hatchet for one game.
We, as Norwich fans, would never do such a thing, would we. Would we?
I hadn’t expected to be musing on what it is to be a supporter – in a negative sense at least – when Northern Canaries, and many other Norwich fans, gathered at Manchester Piccadilly for the short train trip up to Blackburn. It was a ridiculous sight in many ways – we massively outnumbered a smattering of Blackburn fans, a few nervous-looking Bolton supporters and a solitary man in a Swansea shirt. Bless.
As fellow Northern Canary Richard Bishop remarked on Twitter, if he approached train travel in the same style as his team played football, he wouldn’t be surprised if this Swansea fan walked around the station six times, went back to the entrance, and missed his train #thanksforthesixpoints.
All good stuff, and the sense that these were good times to be a Norwich fan were underlined by the Blackburn supporters we spoke to. They were using the town centre pub we were in as a muster station for their demo against the owners and the manager.
Talking to them, though, it was clear that there’s more to their discontent than simply not playing well. They feel completely disenfranchised by their club, owned by, they say, an Indian chicken company who know nothing about football.
Is that, really, so different from the last days of the Roeder regime, where it had got so bad that we’d begun to question the entire way in which the club was run?
There were definitely “Roeder Out” chants during the game then – and barely anyone would suggest they weren’t deserved.
Go back to Nigel Worthington’s last game against Burnley, and the atmosphere at Carrow Road was absolutely toxic.
Of course, you could argue that the difference is that these were mid-season protests rather than during important end-of-season relegation battles.
And yet, these days, it doesn’t seem to take much for the raging football fan to make himself apparent.
These are some of the best times I can remember in terms of following Norwich – better, perhaps, than the days of challenging for titles and beating Bayern Munich. It’s because the narrative is so strong, a club on its uppers in League One picked up by a fantastic manager and dragged to Premier League safety in two incredible years. And yet, judging by the rage spewed forth by some of our own supporters on Saturday, you’d think we were still struggling against Yeovil rather than Blackburn.
Yes, in the second half in particular City were terrible, thumping aimless long balls, misplacing short passes and generally looking off the pace.
A measure of irritation is to be expected in those circumstances. But the bile aimed at Steve Morison in particular was totally unacceptable – and Morison understandably gave some back when he heard it, after he’d (rightly) given up on another dreadful long ball.
All of which made Saturday a little depressing.
We congratulated ourselves on staying with the team when we lost 6-1 last week. But the truth that dare not speak its name (and which Lambert has alluded to himself in the past) is that it wouldn’t take much, in these days where some “fans” expect nothing less than brilliance in every game, for a poor sequence of results next season to end up in a few Lambert Out chants. Although maybe not after five minutes, eh?
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