December 11 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
The panic over fuel supplies arrived at just the right time for Norwich City supporters.
No-one should have been surprised about the massive queues at Norfolk’s petrol pumps last week. My guess is that Canaries fans were mostly to blame but it isn’t really their fault.
It has become traditional at this time of year for Norwich City fans to be panicking about something. Over the past three seasons they have lived through two promotions and a relegation while in 2008, under Glenn Roeder, the threat of relegation from The Championship only disappeared after the penultimate game of the season.
As March becomes April Norwich supporters are now pre-set to a jittery disposition.
With a place in the Premier League all but guaranteed for next season and even the unfamiliar feeling of mid-table respectability a distinct possibility, the Carrow Road faithful needed an outlet for all that nervous energy. The threat of a strike by tanker drivers and some fuzzy government advice was all that was required to set off the adrenalin rush usually reserved for a ‘must-win’ home game.
With so much at stake and only seven games to go, the Premier League has the same sort of fraught feeling about it that was witnessed on your local garage forecourt last week. Wigan and Bolton won at the weekend but are still frantically searching for a place with some fuel left having let their gauges almost drop into the red zone.
With most of the top teams still to play QPR’s warning light has almost certainly come on already while poor old Wolves, now six points adrift at the bottom after sacking Mick McCarthy and placing the inexperienced Terry Connor in charge, are parked up on the hard shoulder with the bonnet up waiting for the AA having filled a diesel engine with a tank full of unleaded.
No such problems for Norwich City, thank goodness. The Canaries have won just once in March but they had the good sense to ’panic buy’ Premier League points a bit earlier in the season. Having 39 points on the board at this stage is like knowing that, if the worst comes to the worst, you’ve got six jerry cans filled up in the garage.
Just like those drivers who didn’t actually need any fuel last week, we are in the unusual position of being able to watch the madness from afar, tutting at the way it seems to bring out the worst in people but secretly quite enjoying the spectacle and doing our best not to appear smug.
This will be the first Easter weekend for quite some time that Norwich fans have been able to relax, tuck into a chocolate egg and not mentally see either the top or bottom few places of whatever division we are in super imposed onto each hot cross bun. Or was that just me?
Now that we are back in the Premier League I could get quite used to these nice comfortable mid-table Easters. The collective blood pressure of the Barclay End must be significantly lower than it was a year ago. I, for one, am not at all stressed and intend to sit back and enjoy some top quality Premier League action over the bank holiday weekend.
Hang on, we’re away to Spurs on Easter Monday. How much fuel have I got left?
• WELCOMING COTTAGE IS HOUSE OF FUN
As with any Norwich City supporter who remembers that 6-0 defeat in 2005, Craven Cottage was a place that I struggled to feel kindly about.
So it was surprising to be there on Saturday, without all that ‘Survival Sunday’ nonsense, with much less sweaty palms and realise just what a quirky place it is to watch Premier League football.
The stewards were incredibly helpful on arrival. Unable to let bygones be bygones, I decided that this must be because they still felt guilty about kicking us out of the top flight in such ignominious fashion seven years ago but as I was shown to my rickety old seat those cynical feelings about all things Fulham finally started to disappear.
I had forgotten just what a great old fashioned football ground it is. In these days of all-seater enormodome style stadiums that look like they come from the same box of Meccano and have sponsors names in the title it was so refreshing to be sat in a wooden stand.
Then there was Mohammed Al Fayed’s extraordinary entrance. The chairman was announced onto the pitch before the game and marched out of the tunnel to a standing ovation while he twirled his black and white scarf as if it was the chequered flag at Silverstone. The pumping soundtrack over the PA made it feel like he was stepping up to the oche in the World Darts Championship rather than taking his seat in the Director’s Box.
The fun doesn’t end there. It is terrifically surreal to have ’Diddy’ David Hamilton reading out the team line-ups. The former Radio 1 DJ and Top of the Pops presenter is Fulham’s official match day announcer.
Even at the age of 73, his dulcet tones cut through the crackly tannoy to make the identity of today’s match mascots sound almost as important as the top 10 used to be.
His broadcasting heyday may have gone but he can certainly cope with the demands of modern day Premier League football.
I wish I had been able to be as cool on Saturday when faced with what must have been English football’s most complicated substitution of all time. I stumbled, stuttered and floundered while in the background ‘Diddy’, calmly told the crowd: “Substitution for Fulham. Coming off, number 7 Pavel Pogrebnyak and coming on is number 31 Alex Kacaniklic”.