Connor Southwell: That roar from the away end will live with me forever

PUBLISHED: 19:00 05 March 2020

The waiting game - both sets of players take up position on the halfway line during the shoot-out Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

The waiting game - both sets of players take up position on the halfway line during the shoot-out Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Paul Chesterton

As Gedson Fernandes took the dreaded walk up to take his spot-kick, there was an eery silence from the away end.

Some Norwich City punters turned to each other, hands over their mouths in anticipation. Surely they couldn't, wouldn't, do it.

Others seemed to bounce nervously on the patch of terrace they occupied. For many of the travelling contingent, City were as close to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup as they had been for their entire lifetime.

Fernandes walked. Spurs supporters prayed. City players stood united.

Tim Krul bounced on his goal line, exhaled visibly and prepared himself for the spot kick.

Daniel Farke and his players celebrate victory in front of their travelling supporters. 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdDaniel Farke and his players celebrate victory in front of their travelling supporters. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Time seemed to stand still as the Portuguese midfielder began his run-up: 50,000 pairs of eyes fixated on the two protagonists. The silence was deafening. City fans were transfixed at the other end of the stadium.

The ball seemed to take an age to leave his boot and make its way towards the goal-line. But it was a soft effort and nerves turned to jubilation - Krul dived onto the ball to secure the victory and the away contingent roared euphorically, uncontrollably.

That eruption of noise was the release of months of pent-up frustration and dejection.

Nights like this reinforce the very reason supporters fall in love with the yellow and green of the Canaries.

Tim Krul was the hero after his penalty saving exploits. 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdTim Krul was the hero after his penalty saving exploits. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

For a generation of supporters, this was a night that hadn't been witnessed before. A piece of history made by 11 warriors who wrestled with adversity and went to war with a footballing powerhouse. And won.

Some of those heroes will be lauded more than others, but each contributed to a night which will be recalled to grandchildren in front of a warm fire with a mug of hot tea.

Supporting Norwich City isn't always the glamorous option. Titles, eye-watering transfer fees and moments of glory are few and far between, but this squad seems to evoke something deeper, even in the miserable spells of this season.

Those supporters have embarked on numerous journeys around the country, enduring every mile of the country's troublesome road network system.

Stiepermann also netted in the shoot out. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdStiepermann also netted in the shoot out. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

This is the reason they do it. To experience games like that. It's a love affair that often feels one-sided; this was for them, all 9,000 in the capital and the thousands celebrating at home.

What an advert for the competition. Whilst some opt to field heavily rotated sides, this was a case of two heavyweights consistently throwing punches in a thrilling spectacle for the neutral.

City ended the fixture with five academy graduates on the pitch, something that seemed unthinkable merely a few years previous.

For all the disgruntled supporters who declare their disagreement with the ownership model and structure of the football club, this is an example of how City wish to take a sledgehammer to convention and forge a new path in the a footballing bubble obsessed with finance and wealth.

Cantwell impressed at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium. 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdCantwell impressed at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Adam Idah, a footballer who was operating in the amateur leagues in Ireland a few years ago, dispatched his penalty with aplomb. As a 19-year-old, to be willing to step up and take a penalty is one thing, but to dispatch it with the accuracy and confidence that he did was a credit to the Canaries' method of development.

City may suffer relegation this season. Barring any sort of miracle, they will be forced to rebuild and come again stronger.

If this squad does get broken up in the summer, then that would be the real tragedy. After all, the way in which they've constructed a unity, provided joy and played an exhilarating brand of football has set the tone for a bright period in the club's history.

There are two grand narratives still to be written.

Josip Drmic of Norwich scores his sides 1st goal during the FA Cup match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267
04/03/2020Josip Drmic of Norwich scores his sides 1st goal during the FA Cup match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 04/03/2020

An epic night at Carrow Road in the next round promises to be one of the greatest in recent history.

Premier League survival is still there to be grasped, with an encounter at Sheffield United the next game to be played.

If City could, against all the odds, reach Wembley and secure survival, then this group would engrave their names into the folklore of the club for eternity.

For now, it's about enjoyment.

This has been a generation in waiting and provided everyone associated with a club a much-needed boost.

Bring on the quarter-finals.

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