Lee Payne: Why the journey can be better than the destination for Norwich City
PUBLISHED: 11:33 06 August 2018 | UPDATED: 11:34 06 August 2018
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The opening day of the season. There I laid, on the sofa, with Chris Goreham in one ear and Jeff Stelling in the other.
Norwich were about to kick off at Birmingham. It was the most optimistic moment of the season – the only time that every team in the league has an equal chance of success. This is how my afternoon unfolded.
Birmingham go 1-0 up
Ah. Well, we never win on the opening day anyway. We never win at Birmingham either. Plenty of time to go though – we can turn this around.
Onel Hernandez equalises
Excellent. The Canaries have the momentum now. Let’s go and win this.
Birmingham go 2-1 up in the 89th minute
It’s just going to be the same old disappointment, isn’t it? It never changes. Why do we bother talking this team up? I can’t believe we are going to lose to a team that have stayed in the Championship by the skin of their teeth for the last two seasons.
Hernandez makes it 2-2 in stoppage time
You beauty! I knew all along that Hernandez would save us. Keep the faith. Maybe promotion is still on after all.
I’m exhausted and need a break. Just the 45 games to go!
If that first game was a sign of what we have got to come following Norwich this season, then we better buckle in for quite the ride. It condensed everything that football has to offer into 90 minutes – complete despair and utter jubilation.
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To be honest, we are due a bit of excitement.
Last season was something of a grind for even the most dedicated City fan. You can’t make too many firm assertions based on one game, but the Birmingham encounter does suggest that while we will lack quality this season we will not be in short supply of entertainment.
Different people want different things from their football experience.
Some will be happy as long as we are winning – no matter how victory is secured – while there are some, like me, who want to be entertained.
It will make the dark and cold nights shivering at Norwich Station waiting to be packed in like a sardine for an unpleasant journey home that much easier if I feel that I’ve enjoyed my time at Carrow Road.
The way in which, as fans, we all share the same hope – that Norwich are successful – but we all have different ideas about what that success looks like has long since fascinated me.
Some would love us to be a billionaire’s new project and power into the upper reaches of the Premier League with multi-million pound signings.
Others enjoy the thrill of the chase. The pursuit of top flight status. No matter what an individual argues, however, nobody is wrong.
I’m with the latter group. It might be a controversial opinion but I’m not particularly fussed whether or not we go up this season.
I’m quite content with the club living within its means. I’m happy with Delia kicking every ball with us from her familiar seat in the City Stand.
I like the constant striving to get back to the promised land.
We have had a few seasons in the Premier League in the last decade and it’s fair to say reality bites.
We hardly ever win, we hardly ever score and although at first you think it’s great that we are on Match of the Day every week you don’t tune in from October onwards because you’re too depressed about the results.
You know the episode of Only Fools and Horses where Del Boy finally becomes a millionaire but then feels miserable because he realises that it was chasing the dream that he loved, rather than the dream itself?
I think I might be like that. Give me the Championship any day. As the Birmingham game showed, it is an awful lot of fun.