Life away from Norwich City has its own issues to solve
PUBLISHED: 07:04 28 March 2017 | UPDATED: 09:35 28 March 2017
Matthew Usher Photography
With Norwich City spending the international break in limbo, and no that isn’t an exotic location for a warm weather training camp, it feels like it’s all been said about how much sport a sporting director might be directing and whether a head coach is the right way ahead for the Canaries.
So rather than trying to straighten out the many yellow and green question marks that remain over Carrow Road I have been seeking answers elsewhere.
The lack of any meaningful action involving Norwich City offered a bit of freedom to check in on some of Norfolk’s other teams who are each tackling challenges of their own.
A midweek trip to The Walks to watch King’s Lynn Town play St Neots suggested a club in a cautiously optimistic frame of mind. Having recently dispensed with the services of Linnets stalwart Gary Setchell and installed former Norwich City player and coach Ian Culverhouse as manager there is a feeling of hope that his illustrious background in the professional game may mean he will gradually be able to find a way of cracking the glass ceiling that has always prevented a club with undoubted potential from rising towards the pointy top of the non-league pyramid.
What Culverhouse cannot have prepared for when accepting the job was a situation in which three of his four defenders would get injured in the first half of a game. That’s what happened last week as Ryan Fryatt, Tom Ward and Sam Gaughran were forced off early with varying degrees of blood having been spilt for the cause. They lost 2-1 against a team reduced to 10 men within the first 20 minutes. It’s a good job that Culverhouse’s hair is already grey.
Across town the speedway season is about to get underway and King’s Lynn Stars are preparing to be part of the inaugural British Premiership. Promotion and relegation have been introduced in a bid to attract new spectators to a sport which has a very passionate fan base but is still ignored by large parts of the media.
We don’t have much top level professional sport in Norfolk so it was good to catch up with Rob Lyon, the Stars’ former team manager, who has just taken on a role overseeing the club on a day to day basis.
Another man getting his feet under the Norfolk sporting table is North Walsham’s head of Rugby James Brooks. The former Northampton Saints player is coming towards the end of his first season in charge at Scottow and has been getting to grips with the familiar challenge facing coaches in our county; how to attract some extra talent to the area.
We all know the glorious lifestyle that Norfolk can offer so there’s no point me preaching to the converted but many clubs find it tough to snare promising players in order for the county to be able to cast the sticky spell that usually makes them stay beyond that initial visit.
What troubled me most on my visit to Walsham last week was the giant pig that lives in the rafters of the clubhouse complete with green and black club tie. There must be a story behind it but I find that most tales that are set inside a rugby clubhouse are not fit to print in a family newspaper.
One week without The Canaries and I’ve been forced to consider questions about how to attract more supporters to speedway, what to do when three quarters of your back four gets injured and how a giant pig finishes up in the roof of a rugby club. It’s reassuring to discover that it’s not just Norwich City, sport at all levels and of every discipline appears to throw up more questions than answers. All clubs are dealing with their own internal quandaries
Suddenly explaining the management restructure at Carrow Road doesn’t feel like such an onerous task.
Peter Oldfield was one of life’s gentlemen
I was sad to hear about the death of Peter Oldfield over the weekend.
For those that didn’t know him, Pete carried out a variety of roles behind the scenes at Carrow Road on match days.
At a club where managers and players have come and gone in recent years at the sort of rate that suggests a revolving door may have been fitted to the dressing room, his cheerful outlook and smiling face was a reassuring constant at a rapidly changing Carrow Road.
Peter needed all that natural charm to do his job. One of his tasks was to pick up the Man of the Match from the home changing room and deliver him to meet supporters, sponsors and hospitality guests in the lounges after the game.
Grant Holt doesn’t score a hat-trick against Ipswich every week and there are times when being singled out as the best of a bad bunch in a losing cause can be a poisoned chalice.
Having often been waiting in the same queue for interviews of my own, I know how slippery footballers can be when they don’t fancy being put on the wrong side of a microphone but Peter always stuck to his target with a level of professionalism and determination that suggests he might have been a useful addition to the City defence.
Our paths also regularly crossed when we belonged to the same gym for a while.
Opinions on all things Norwich City and tales of who had won money in the latest gripping game of golf between Pete and people like Dave Stringer and Bill Punton helped to break the ice and get us through the usual awkwardness that us gents feel when we see a familiar face in a changing room wearing nothing but a towel.
Peter will be sadly missed at Carrow Road. He was one of a band who work outside the spotlight, making the ground tick on a match day.
The enthusiasm, attitude and approach he had to a football club he clearly loved saw him achieve that wonderful balance of taking his job seriously without ever taking himself too seriously.