Chris Goreham: All good things come to an end but thankfully it wasn’t on Sunday
PUBLISHED: 12:00 04 September 2018
© Copyright Stephen Waller
The one certainty in football, as in life, is that everything must come to an end.
If that wasn’t the case Norwich City would still have Kevn Keelan, Dave Stringer and Bill Punton lining up in their first team.
Those three Canary legends looked very spritely when they were photographed together during a Carrow Road reunion earlier this season but the point is that nothing, no matter how great it is, lasts forever.
It was strange at the weekend to contemplate a Norwich City squad list without Russell Martin on it for the first time in nine years.
He may not have played for the club since last August but to me he had become the football equivalent of having an extendable dining table; even when not being used there was something reassuring about the fact that we had him around and a comfort in the knowledge that if we really needed him he could still be pressed into service.
This particular part of the Carrow Road furniture has now been sent to the second hand shop, leaving behind happy memories of the good times enjoyed while we had it.
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Football supporters are a sentimental bunch and they often long for an opportunity to wave a proper goodbye to their departing heroes.
In reality the emotional laps of honour don’t materialise for most players.
Events like Wes Hoolahan’s final game back in April are few and far between. Only John Ruddy and Iwan Roberts have enjoyed similar Carrow Road farewells in recent years most players, no matter what they have done or how long they have been around, get kicked out of the back door in between matches rather than applauded out of the front with everyone, fans included, knowing where they stand.
In an ideal world every Norwich City player would get the opportunity to wave a fond farewell to the home crowd but that would mean every transfer offer, mutual contract termination or retirement neatly fitting in with a convenient home game.
Ultimately, lap of honour or not, what really counts and can never be taken away are the memories that a player leaves behind.
Russell Martin lifting that trophy at Wembley, dancing in his pants at Portsmouth and scoring an Anfield equaliser hours after becoming a dad again are moments that no testimonial or stage-managed send-off could come anywhere close to matching.
Russell was often the man thrust before our microphones in the aftermath of a heavy defeat.
It became a running joke between us that wearing the captain’s armband and his thoughtful and faultlessly professional outlook worked against him when it came to having to front up to the media and say the right things at difficult times.
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Not that all of those interviews were in awkward circumstances.
He was one of the scorers in that never-to-be-forgotten 5-1 win at Portman Road back in 2011 which brings us neatly to the subject of nothing in football lasting forever.
Ever since that day I have waited for Ipswich to gain their revenge.
East Anglian Derby week means the fear that Norwich’s unbeaten run must be about to come to an end.
The law of averages feels more powerful than league form or logic when it comes to these occasions.
They say a pessimist is never disappointed and so when Gwion Edwards bounced Ipswich into a second half lead on Sunday I had resigned myself to that run of games without defeat going the same way as Russell Martin’s Norwich City career.
It made the relief of Moritz Leitner’s perfectly timed first goal for the club all the more wonderful.
The horror of homework
I have some sympathy with those going back to school this week because I am one of the few adults that still has to do regular homework.
Before each commentary I spend a good couple of hours hunched in front of a computer screen researching facts and stats about whichever team Norwich City happen to be playing next.
Not many 36-year olds carry around their own pencil case, coloured pens and ruler but I am the man who has been keeping WH Smith in business for the last few years because one cannot do proper football research without the correct stationary.
A month or so into the season and I think I’m now finding my rhythm with it all again. Call me old fashioned, but my pre-match notes are all still handwritten as a member of possibly the last generation to be brought up at school with the message that writing things down is the best way to make revision stick in the brain. The writing gets less spidery as the season goes on.
In 2018 I should probably have found out how to do the whole thing on my smartphone and this was a fact enforced during the cup win at Cardiff last week when my co-commentator, the former Norwich goalkeeper Mark Walton, got particularly carried away during the unexpectedly exciting cup tie and knocked half a cup of tea over right next to my notebook. Lukewarm tea and blue biro are a partnership more deadly than Buendia and Srbeny were that night and one corner of my carefully prepared notes became a dirty blue and brown smear.
No real harm done though, my notes are no work of art which cannot be said for some of my commentary colleagues up and down the country.
A chap called Nick Barnes who covers Sunderland for BBC Radio Newcastle has become quite famous for his meticulous pre-match preparation. Not content with simply scribbling down the players’ names and previous clubs he takes the time to draw the opposition’s kit and club badge before each game. I can’t even draw curtains.
His notes have picked up such a following that at the end of one season they were actually turned into a book and published for supporters to buy.
Don’t get any ideas, there is no demand for me to do the same. Not unless any teachers fancy getting in some practice at writing ‘3/10 See Me!’ in the margins of some untidy homework.