April 18 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
By beating Norwich City on Sunday, Newcastle United have completely destroyed my belief in the concept of karma.
The idea that what goes around comes around is one that I am no longer prepared to buy into.
Where possible I like to put these long away trips to good use by exploring beyond the football ground.
It would be a shame to visit some of these far flung British cities and only see another football pitch, and the 4pm kick-off at St James’ Park allowed time for a bit of a stroll around the streets near the ground. Determined to immerse myself in some proper Geordie culture, I thought of Lindisfarne’s song ‘Fog on the Tyne’ which was infamously re-released in 1990 with Paul Gascoigne rapping all over it.
Gazza’s all-too-memorable opening drawl is about ‘Sitting in a sleazy snack bar sucking sickly sausage rolls’ so, when in Rome and all that, my BBC Radio Norfolk colleague Rob Butler and I set off in search of a suitable establishment.
We are nothing if not media luvvies though and our ‘sleazy snack bar’ turned out to be a well-known high street coffee chain and instead of ‘sucking sickly sausage rolls’ we opted for a panini and a cappuccino. Gazza would have been ashamed of us. When he was belting out that Top 40 hit some 22 years ago the only panini he had ever been connected with was his picture in my ‘Football ‘90’ sticker album.
It was while dabbing away the last of the cappuccino froth from the corner of my mouth that I noticed the man who had been at the next table had got up, walked out and left his wallet behind. This was a serious situation. The rest of that panini would have to wait, the melted cheese was still too hot anyway. I set off in pursuit yelling “Excuse me!” to make it clear to any passers-by that, while I might be running through Newcastle city centre with a Geordie man’s wallet in my hand, I was the innocent party here.
He couldn’t hear me, he had headphones in. Perhaps he was connected to the local wi-aye-fi network or could he even have been listening to ‘that’ Gazza rap?
Eventually I caught up with him. There was no time for much of a thank you or even for him to call me ‘pet’ or a ‘canny lad’ because the handover had taken place in the middle of a road and a taxi was coming towards us. I returned to my lunch, satisfied that I had guaranteed a Norwich win because of all that good karma.
But it wasn’t to be. Norwich City were beaten 1-0 and one local had all the luck. Not only did he get his wallet returned, despite some coffee shop carelessness, but his football team got three precious Premier League points. The luck on the Tyne was all his, all his. As the great man himself, the Bard of Newcastle, so memorably put it: ‘it’s plain to see in black and white, this Geordie boy’s gonna do alright.’
GUNNY’S STAT OF THE DAY WINS - BY A DISTANCE
There are so many statistics and facts and figures trotted out before Premier League games now that it’s enough to give you a headache.
Every so often, though, somebody does come up with one that stops you in your tracks.
One boffin had filled me with dread before the Newcastle game by revealing that in 14 (now 15) attempts Norwich City have never won a Premier League match on a Sunday.
The one that really startled me at the weekend, though, was provided by BBC Radio Norfolk’s guest summariser and former Canaries boss Bryan Gunn.
While gazing up at the third tier of the giant stand to our left-hand side at the imposing St James’ Park where the Norwich fans were sitting, Bryan mentioned that someone had told him that those fans were actually a quarter of a mile away from the goal at the other end of the ground.
When you’ve travelled the best part of 300 miles just to get to the game I suppose another quarter of a mile should not be sniffed at, but the City fans looked far enough off in the distance to be in a different postcode to John Ruddy during the second half.
It was incredible that 1,900-plus City fans made that trip. Not at all surprising, because Norwich supporters have always travelled in distance defying numbers, but considering the match had been shifted to a Sunday, 4pm kick-off with barely three weeks notice, this effort deserves particular credit.
It was Mother’s Day and many hotel bookings, travel arrangements and family calendars will have been thrown into chaos.
It will have been virtually Monday by the time many of the City fans got home from one of the longest trips of the season. Satellite television had dictated the schedule shift and it’s churlish to complain because if I was putting that amount of money into something then I would probably want some say in when things happen.
It seems the supporters were the last to be considered though.
The same company had also screened Wolves v Manchester United at 1.30 on Sunday afternoon.
Could they not have swapped the two games over?
Ignoring the obvious jokes about United’s fans not being from Manchester, it would have meant Norwich’s fans could have been on the road by about 3.30pm and had half a chance of getting home before it was time for them to go to work on Monday.