Chris Goreham: How the Pink Un's Batman and Robin came to the rescue
PUBLISHED: 10:55 07 August 2018
Norwich City stormed back into our lives at the weekend with all the subtlety of a back-from-the-dead baddie returning to a soap opera with falling ratings.
One game in and they have already put supporters through the hope that comes with equalising away from home inside the final 10 minutes of a match, the despair of conceding a goal to fall behind in the 89th minute and then the unrivalled joy of a game-changing 95th minute strike.
The drama began much earlier in the day for us at BBC Radio Norfolk.
After safely negotiating pre-season, checking that all of the various wires and cables that keep us on the air still worked and remembering the specific way of packing so that it all fits into the boot of our Ford Fiesta we were ready for another gruelling Championship campaign. Or so we thought.
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What I hadn’t prepared for was the text message that greeted me when I peered at my phone first thing on Saturday morning.
It was an apologetic note from the former Norwich winger Lee Croft, our match summariser, which had dropped into my inbox at 4.30am while I had been suffering the usual new season eve anxiety dreams that come when you haven’t commentated on anything for three months.
I won’t go into too much detail but let’s just say that Crofty was ruling himself out of a trip to Birmingham because of illness.
Given the content of the message, it was a relief that I wouldn’t have to be sitting next to him for the afternoon.
These things happens, I had to leave Neil Adams alone to travel to a game at Swansea in 2011 after being struck down with a sudden bout of what I will now call ‘The Lee Crofts’, but it left us without a pundit for the match as well as our first Canary Call phone-in of the new season and we had the earliest of selection headaches to deal with.
By the time it was a polite enough hour to ring another former City winger, Cedric Anselin, Rob Butler and I had made it as far as Snetterton and, like the lifeboat men at Caister, a Norwich City commentary team never turns back.
Cedric kindly agreed to look kindly upon our cap-in-hand request and so became the first super sub of the season even though he had been due to move house.
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We just had to somehow get him from Norfolk to Birmingham in time to go on air at 2 o’clock. That’s where the EDP’s own Batman and Robin, Michael Bailey and Dave Freezer, stepped in.
They don’t have as much equipment to set up at grounds and so tend to leave Norfolk later than us for away games and they were able to swoop and collect our precious French cargo. They were his Joe Le Taxi.
Just like Norwich City, BBC Radio Norfolk got through the opening day of the new season unscathed and by the skin of its teeth.
We already owe huge thank yous to Cedric for answering our emergency call and to Michael and Dave for their assistance as well as to Onel Hernandez for scoring twice and making us all feel like the effort was well worth it to be present at what will most likely be the first of many dramatic Norwich City moments this season.
We got there because everyone pulled together despite our lack of resources.
There’s a lesson in there somewhere about what it takes to succeed in the Championship but if we have many more days like Saturday this season I may end up with more than just a touch of ‘The Lee Crofts’.
Anyone fancy a pint?
It was like something from the 1970s as we sat down with one of Norwich City’s new signings over a few bottles of beer just two days before the season started.
It’s not quite as scandalous as it sounds. Ben Marshall was on official duty at Carrow Road representing the players as the new deal which will see local brewery, Woodforde’s, sponsor The Barclay was launched. To be absolutely clear, Marshall didn’t touch a drop. Anyone who saw his inch perfect pass to Onel Hernandez for that first equaliser at Birmingham will know that this wasn’t a player with judgement clouded by the fug of real ale.
Beer and football have always been close bedfellows as a look at the pre-match routine of many supporters will prove. As a six-year-old I was excited to be taken to the club shop at Carrow Road to be fitted for a replica shirt including the sponsor’s name.
It was Foster’s Lager in those days. It wouldn’t happen now with the regulations forbidding the logos of firms that deal in alcohol or betting from being emblazoned on the front of shirts made for children. These rules exist for good reason and seem sensible on the face of it but, in 1988, I would have felt a little sore if the shirt I was wearing wasn’t exactly the same as the one Dale Gordon, Robert Fleck and co were wearing in matches.
The modern day Junior Canaries are clearly more understanding of the issues than I was. At the launch of Norwich City’s new kit this summer I was struck by the number of young fans who were unperturbed by the fact that their brand new and expensive shirts would be carrying the logo of an entirely different sponsor than Leo Vegas, the gambling firm which currently pays to be on the front of the Canaries first team shirts.
There is clearly a balance to be struck between the moral responsibilities that football has when it comes to which companies clubs associate with while having to face the fact that shirt sponsors, stand and even stadium naming rights are lucrative ways of bringing cash into clubs that do not benefit from Premier League revenue.
It’s an issue that goes beyond Carrow Road. We are playing in the Sky Bet Championship after all.