Carrow Road chronicles: Behind the scenes of a behind closed doors game
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City fans must get used to watching their team from afar after the Premier League returned behind closed doors against Southampton on Friday.
But Archant’s Canaries’ reporting trio of Paddy Davitt, Dave Freezer and Connor Southwell were part of the 300 in total allowed into the stadium as part of strict medical protocols comprising players, coaches, officials, support staff and media.
Here is a glimpse into a matchday experience unlike any other from before, during and after Friday’s 6pm kick-off.
4pm: Arrive at Carrow Road wearing face masks. Report to first access point behind the South Stand to receive accreditation and gain entry to the perimeter of the stadium.
4:15pm: Directed around the back of the Barclay Stand in the direction of the press entrance. Another access point for a further I.D check. Temperature taken with a hand held thermometer and only permitted through with a normal temperature.
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4:20pm: On entering the stadium straight through the normal press room to take a seat in newly created overflow press area behind glass in the City Stand. Under social distancing requirements drastically reduced numbers of media permitted in designated areas.
Seats marked with crosses separated by individual seats with green ticks and surrounded by taped off areas.
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4:30pm: Only permitted to leave press seat for the duration to use the bathroom facilities.
4:55pm: Norwich squad arrive. Some players wearing face masks take to the pitch. More than a passing interest from Max Aarons and Todd Cantwell in the collection of giant banners adorning the lower tiers of three sides of the stadium.
4:57pm: Daniel Farke and Tim Krul required for socially distanced snap interviews pitchside for rights’ holding media.
5:50pm: Southampton players emerge first as is the new protocol for the away teams. Followed by Norwich players in single file and maintaining a social distance as the Premier League anthem booms out around the empty stadium. The pre-match handshake ritual does not take place.
6pm: Saints’ boss Ralph Hassenhuttl barks instructions that can be heard by all those in attendance around the entire stadium. There is no piped generic atmosphere soundtrack, in comparison to the television broadcast.
6:15pm: Aarons suffers a heavy landing after an aerial challenge. Two of City’s medical staff treat him wearing personal protective equipment (PPE).
6:23pm: First of two designated drinks breaks for the players. Each player must only drink from a designated named bottle.
6:29pm: James Ward-Prowse jogs 20 yards up the touchline to retrieve a fresh disinfected ball to take a corner in front of the empty away end. With no ball boys or girls permitted any balls that go into the stands must be disinfected before re-use.
7:07pm: Danny Ings rifles Southampton in front. Only reaction is some audible squeals from team mates on the pitch and around the away dug out.
7:53pm: Full-time whistle. Norwich well beaten. Players touch elbows instead of normal handshakes and embraces.
8:25pm onwards: Farke and Hassenhuttl conduct series of pitchside interviews observing the same social distancing protocols.
8:41pm: Farke takes his seat for a virtual press conference inside the City Stand instead of heading to the press conference stage at Carrow Road. Reporters must raise a ‘virtual’ hand to signal they wish to ask a question. Reporters remain in the same seat they took on arrival.
8:50pm: Dave Freezer conducts a remote telephone player interview with Timm Klose from a safe distance. Only one reporter is permitted to interview Klose with the quotes made available to other media to share should they wish.
8:59pm: Media must walk in single file around the perimeter of the pitch in the direction of the Holiday Inn to exit via the South Stand. Accreditation is returned to a mask-wearing Norwich City official.