Di Cunningham: Doing whatever we can to have a positive influence on City

PUBLISHED: 19:05 29 October 2019

City fans must be the 12th man in the Premier League, says Di Cunningham. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

City fans must be the 12th man in the Premier League, says Di Cunningham. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Paul Chesterton

As football fans most of us have a standard pre-match routine for home games.

For me lately that involves getting half way to the ground then returning home to get my glasses.

I've broken my journey to Carrow Road at a variety of excellent drinking spots over the years. These days I'm most likely to be meeting up with other Proud Canaries (and maybe members of the away team LGBT+ fan group) at Lollards Pit or grabbing a coffee and breakfast bap at the cool Smokey's Barn.

So there was no real reason for me to question the Waterfront being designated as an away fan venue. It's an iconic Norwich location - why should away fans get to enjoy it?! Because it's a great ad for Norwich as a city, because it's geared up for security, because there's a fantastic opportunity for across the water bantz with The Queen of the Iceni on the other side of the Wensum. And it's been made available to away rather than home fans because music comes first gig commitments may sometimes mean the space can't be used pre-match.

So a pie and a pint - key to many of us home or away. But for some supporters, going to a game can involve prep far more intricate than simply wearing home colours and consumption of alcohol; I've heard of people getting ready in a particular order, eating the same thing, not walking on pavement cracks en route to the ground; rituals born out of a belief that minute details of their personal repeated behaviour patterns can influence the fortunes of their team.

Magical thinking (there are other less polite terms!) - ignores standard theories of causation, centring on activities that may have coincided in the past with others' success.

At a push even the most bizarre the superstitions of players can be justified. Whether it's wearing inside-out pants (Adrian Mutu) or listening to dull music (Jack Grealish revealed ahead of the Norwich game that he listened to French Montana's 2014 'Ball Drop' on repeat before league games) or even our own Wes Hoolahan wearing back-to-front socks (it's true; ask Chris Goreham), footballers may use rituals to help focus and Zen-out any anxiety.

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Other repetitive routines favoured by pro-athletes may be practical - specific diets, warm ups or techniques; think Maddison preparing for a free kick. By the way, John Terry's ritual player behaviour involved a dressing room toilet…

Frankly what we get up to as fans ahead of a game does not alter the probability of Norwich City gaining three points. But if members of the Green Army feel better for invoking good luck in their own way, they should go for it.

One of the founding principles of Proud Canaries was that a stadium where everyone feels welcome and able to be themselves will be one that enables supporters to offer the best they can to their side. Because what we get up to as fans during the game is important.

We heard a lot last season about the fine margins that can make the difference between losses, draws and wins - player fitness, team psyche, pink dressing rooms. One of those extras that can provide the fillip needed to inspire tired legs and minds for that last-ditch tackle or pitch-raking pass, is us. We as a unit are Delia's 12th man.

And while I'm indifferent to fellow yellows' talismanic match day behaviours, I am concerned about the potential return to our stands of old bad habits.

Rarely heard during NCFC's meteoric title run last season but familiar of old - the scapegoating of players and general moaning, neither of which will make a difference to those fine margins in a good way. So, pants inside-out or not, be prepared to be a supporter with influence for the rest of the season.

See you in the pub.

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