A day that we will all never forget
Last weekend Norwich City FC organised a number of events for long distance supporters. There was a football tournament at Colney in which the Capital Canaries entered two teams, a St Patrick's Day party, the cross-bar challenge where each supporters' group could be represented and a half time flag parade.
Last weekend Norwich City FC organised a number of events for long distance supporters.
There was a football tournament at Colney in which the Capital Canaries entered two teams, a St Patrick's Day party, the cross-bar challenge where each supporters' group could be represented and a half time flag parade.
Having a foot shaped like a fifty pence piece means that the only football that I play is in the park with my daughters. Letting me anywhere near, in a playing capacity, to Colney for the five-a-side, or the edge of the penalty box, for the cross-bar challenge was not an option.
So I volunteered for the flag parade. I also volunteered my daughter Gemma. She's eight-years-old and old enough to appreciate the significance of this chance to do something really special at Carrow Road. She's also had some big-match experience this season, having been the Norwich City away mascot at QPR.
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The instructions were simple. After forty minutes, we had to walk round to the directors' entrance at the back of the City Stand. Following these instructions to the letter we left our seats in the Jarrold stand with five minutes remaining in the first half.
It was at this point Gemma mentioned that she was more nervous than on the day she was the mascot. “Daddy, my feet feel all wobbly and my mouth is very dry,” she confessed to me as we walked round, past the River End to the meeting point.
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She clung on to my hand thinking that this would somehow make things better but I could see that she was really worried about what walking out on the pitch would be like.
All her worries were to prove unfounded as Gemma and I, plus Zoe and Rob walked out onto the pitch carrying the Capital Canaries flag.
We heard the cheering and the applause as we walked out through the tunnel onto the pitch, and were greeted by the sight of all the other flags lined up.
After a quick photo we started the parade round the ground. We went past the River End and as we walked past the Jarrold stand, we recognised a number of familiar faces who waved to us.
As we arrived in front of the Barclay, we were greeted by a crescendo of noise and chanting. I still get a buzz just thinking about it.
Until then I did not realise how great an effect the support from the Barclay can have, and how it can lift the team, or conversely how it could affect a players game. I certainly know now.
We finished the parade passing the Snakepit and City Stand and were directed to the Community Stand corner of the ground so we could return to our seats.
Just as we were walking past the goal, Dion Dublin lobbed a couple of balls into the penalty box. I wouldn't like to say that he was using us as target practice as I didn't see the ball being kicked, but I did see the man in front of us, head the ball into the net to a huge cheer. I would have loved to have done that, but as I tend to shut my eyes whenever I head a football, it was probably a wise move that I didn't.
Gemma was all smiles as we returned to our seats just as the second half had started, either relieved that it was over or on a high from being on the pitch. I didn't ask her, but on the train back to London she mentioned that the walk-round was “really cool” and something she would like to do again.
To cap off a great day, Norwich won again with another excellent goal from Darren Huckerby, and Capital Canary, Mike Grant, won the crossbar challenge.
I would like finish by thanking Andy Cullen and all the staff at Norwich City FC for all their hard work and organisation in making the Long Distance Supporters weekend happen. Thanks to Norwich City FC, Saturday, March 17, 2007 is a day that Gemma and I shall never forget.