All the ingredients are available for another special Norwich City occasion against United

Dean Ashton fears for his old club in the Premier League  Picture: Archant

Dean Ashton fears for his old club in the Premier League Picture: Archant

Archant © 2005

Football isn't just about memories created on the pitch. The hardy fans who follow Norwich City around the country for away games can assure you of that.

For me a Carrow Road clash with Manchester United brings back one such happy memory, when I was lucky enough to enjoy an epic victory inside and outside the stadium.

Were you in Mercy nightclub in the early hours of Sunday, April 10, 2005? If so, then you may well have shared that same triumph with me as an 18-year-old.

That had followed arguably the peak of the Nigel Worthington era, when United were beaten 2-0 to spark hopes that Premier League survival was still possible, despite very few games left.

City had gone in to that night on a low ebb, on the back of five successive defeats, conceding 13 goals in the process to leaves them rock bottom, six points adrift and seven points from safety.

Sir Alex Ferguson felt he could afford to leave Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Ruud van Nistelrooy on the bench that evening, although Rio Ferdinand, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes were all still in the starting XI.

United were third ahead of kick-off and, along with Arsenal, 13 points adrift of champions-in-waiting Chelsea but unbeaten in 20 league games.

What took place that night didn't just throw the form book out of the window, it set light to it.

Those goals from Dean Ashton and Leon McKenzie at the River End - with Rooney on at half-time and culpable in the build-up to both - sparked incredible scenes of celebration that Carrow Road has rarely witnessed.

Leon McKenzie doubled the lead for City against United in April 2005 Picture: Nathan Clarke/Archant libraryLeon McKenzie doubled the lead for City against United in April 2005 Picture: Nathan Clarke/Archant library

It would begin a remarkable surge in form, winning three and drawing one of the next four matches to leave City's destiny in their own hands on the final day of the season. We all know what happened at Fulham though.

However, my view of that victory over the biggest club in the world from the Barclay was made even better after bumping into a United supporting mate on Riverside, as I was making my way towards the train station to head back to north Norfolk with my dad.

Instead, I stayed for a few more drinks to 'console' my disbelieving friend - and we ended up heading to Mercy to continue the night into the small hours, as you do when you're 18.

Football shirts weren't allowed, yet zipping my jacket up to the top saw that obstacle swerved and we carried on with our night out. I wasn't the only one though.

At some point beyond midnight the DJ decided to get into the spirit of the evening and played the Carrow Road goal music, Samba De Janeiro by Bellini, the one that makes Norwich fans come over all funny and start throwing their arms in the air wildly like a child whose had too much ice cream.

As the crucial part of the song approached, jackets all around us were being unzipped and it became clear that many on the dance-floor had been carrying on their football celebrations in the same way - and with a rush of adrenaline, it was like a goal being celebrated all over again, at something like 2am. I can still remember the look of disgust on my mate's face. Sorry, Seeley.

United may be a shadow of their former selves these days but they remain one of the biggest clubs in the world and a scalp that City fans will crave.

As Tim Krul put it to us after last week's calming 0-0 draw at Bournemouth, another "magical night" is needed. And as Ben Godfrey also said when I spoke to him during this week, that desperation for victory and unrelenting noise which made that wonderful triumph over Manchester City so special, really can give the players that extra edge they need.

Youssef Safri and David Bentley savour City's victory over United in 2005, as Damien Francis, centre, and Thomas Helveg shake hands with Paul Scholes Picture: Matthew Usher/Archant libraryYoussef Safri and David Bentley savour City's victory over United in 2005, as Damien Francis, centre, and Thomas Helveg shake hands with Paul Scholes Picture: Matthew Usher/Archant library

With club icon Duncan Forbes to be honoured ahead of kick-off, an added poignancy is sure to fill the stadium - and I have to say a minute's silence does feel appropriate, for a man so beloved by City fans older than myself.

The atmosphere against Aston Villa was flat. It felt like the injury troubles had seeped into the consciousness of players and fans, but things have improved markedly on that front.

All the ingredients for another special night are there - it's down to all involved with Norwich City to sense that prospect and make new memories which will last a lifetime.

- You can follow chief Norwich City reporter David Freezer on Twitter @davefreezer or on Facebook @DavidFreezer1

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