Chris Goreham: New habits, socially distanced chanting and Canary Call’s great leveller
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
It’s supposed to be one of the most exciting days of the year for football supporters but this time it was little more than a reminder of the experiences they would be missing out on.
The day the fixture list comes out is one filled with possibilities. It’s the formal publication of the plan that could lead to promotion or how survival will be secured. It doesn’t just prompt daydreams about what will happen on the pitch but also fills in the diary for the next 10 months. Days when excuses will be needed to miss weddings, family gatherings or work events in the name of following your football team can be marked out along with the away trips that could tie in with a nice weekend somewhere.
Confirmation of Norwich City’s first few fixtures of the Premier League’s Project Restart will have made supporters who organise their lives around attending matches feel uneasy. It’s no longer about planning a route to get to these games but working out a brand new routine for match days. A Friday evening game against Southampton, kicking off at 6pm? The worries about where to get a pre-match pint will be replaced by whether it’s bad luck to watch ‘Pointless’ before turning over to whichever channel it is that’s showing that particular match.
With so many different broadcasters involved in screening the rest of the season the games are going to be more complicated to pick-up than Wes Hoolahan was when he was at his peak. This is an open goal which, in a fit of Pukki-esque opportunism, gives me the chance to remind you that all of the matches will be live on the radio. We are still confirming the finer points of how our socially distanced sports coverage will operate but rest assured BBC Radio Norfolk will continue to provide full commentary of every Canaries game for the rest of the campaign.
It’s impossible to say how long it will be before fans are allowed back inside Carrow Road in any sort of numbers or what football will look like in the future but the fact that a way has been found to show pretty much every Premier League match live on television in this country must prompt the question as to whether that is a horse that has now bolted and will never be corralled back into the stable most of us like to visit with a reassuring sugar lump at 3 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon.
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That will become clear in due course but for now it’s fascinating to consider what traditions will quickly set-in to keep the Canary community together when they can’t actually sit side by side at Carrow Road. There is already one social media campaign urging City fans to go out onto their doorsteps and belt out ‘On The Ball City’ five minutes before kick-off. Now that we’ve stopped clapping for carers should we be clapping for The Canaries instead?
It could work if enough Norwich fans live in your street but if you are the only one with a yellow and green rainbow in the window you may become unpopular with your neighbours rather quickly.
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Whatever happens this will be the season that will be remembered as the one that shattered all of the clichés. It’s no longer a marathon or a sprint. It’s about 20 miles of a marathon followed by a three month break and then an attempt at the four minute mile.
The one great silver lining of what is a highly unsatisfactory set of circumstances is that fans will have to stop criticising people on our Canary Call phone-in who dare to ring up with an opinion after not going to the game. I’ve been keen to defend these fans since it dawned on me that we wouldn’t have anyone to broadcast to if they all went to the matches. We all have feeling and hunches on a whole range of subjects whether we’ve got a degree in them or not.
I have never seen Lionel Messi play in the flesh but I have been able to come to the conclusion that he’s quite good. I’d like to think that everyone being in the same boat might prove to be a great leveller in the world of the radio phone-in.
- FULLY FIT CANARIES?
There will be a different look about the Norwich City squad when the season does get going again at the end of next week.
The extension has worked in favour of a few players including defender Timm Klose, who was last seen limping off at Crawley in the League Cup back in August when none of us had heard of Covid-19.
The Switzerland international was just returning to training when the campaign was halted in March. It could be that the break will mean that he’s no less match fit than many of his team-mates.
Question marks had hung over Daniel Farke’s defence for much of the season and a fit Klose would have aided their relegation battle given the amount of games they had to limp through with midfielders like Ibrahim Amadou or Alex Tettey filling the giant gaps at centre-back.
Klose is such a committed defender that his instincts extend far beyond the realms of the football pitch and all the way to his back garden. His social media feed on Sunday included a heart-warming story of the rescue of a poorly looking hedgehog from his backyard.
One socially distanced visit to a vet later and the little chap was snuffling around again outside Klose Towers. The big question that remains is around the name. He’s called it Charlie. I can’t think of an obvious Norwich City link and there doesn’t seem to have been anyone of that name in the Switzerland squad recently.
For a while I convinced myself that big Timm was being the ultimate pro and had named it after Charlie Austin so he could get used to keeping an eye on him for when Norwich play Southampton but then I remembered he left for West Brom last summer.