Chris Goreham: We're Norwich City fans and we don't like change - or do we?

Norwich Assistant Head Coach Craig Shakespeare and Norwich Head Coach Dean Smith during the Premier

Dean Smith and Craig Shakespeare have made a few changes to positive effect since their arrivals - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

It’s been a time of great change at Carrow Road. That’s a dangerous word in these parts. Us Norfolk people tend to struggle with change. 

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and even if it is broke, just leave it and we’ll get used to it. We’ve long since accepted that the clocks on the tower of City Hall won’t often all say the same time. 

So, when word got out that Norwich City were thinking of changing the club’s famous badge there was a sharp intake of breath. Were our favourite three yellow and green musketeers about to go their separate ways? Had the canary, the lion and the castle reached the point where artistic differences meant they could no longer work together? 

Thankfully all three have kept their place in the team for next season. The new badge is not a huge departure. The biggest shock of the past week has been revisiting the ‘traditional’ club crest and realising how many different interpretations there have been. 

I have vivid memories of trying to draw the Norwich City badge on my school exercise books and it never looked quite right. I have spent years blaming Neil Buchanan for not teaching his young viewers to draw a proper lion on Art Attack. It is only now, at the age of almost 40, that I learn that no-one really knew how to reproduce it. 

NCFC badge

Norwich City Football Club have announced a new, modernised crest that will come into force next summer. - Credit: Norwich City FC

The Norwich City badge has had the consistency levels of some of the team’s more erratic wingers over the years. If you have two replica kits from different seasons you’re bound to be able to play a decent game of Spot the Difference. Even around Carrow Road itself you can find several variations on the theme. So it’s hard to argue with the logic of starting again and at least agreeing what the badge should look like. 

Some supporters found the recent change made in the dugout equally difficult to accept.  

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Good old Daniel Farke remained a popular figure, right up to the moment that he left the club.  

Of course, there was a time when Farkeball was a strange new concept to us. Defenders keeping the ball for long periods and playing short passes with the goalkeeper? It will never catch on. The stubborn refusal to ‘just launch it’ no matter how many times it was hollered by a supporter of a nervous disposition. That patience, both on and off the pitch, paid off in the Championship at least. 

It’s easy to be cynical when a new manager arrives. The players are all the same so why should it be radically different? 

The first two games of Dean Smith’s reign have been a good advert for making the right change at the right time. The performance against Wolves on Saturday was the most encouraging of the season at Carrow Road. The new management team appears to have come up with a plan to make Norwich City a more stubborn proposition. There is a new found belief within the team’s displays that is transferring to the stands. 

I thought the atmosphere on Saturday was as pulsating as it’s been since supporters returned. Some have disputed this and admittedly I’m judging it from a distance and with big old headphones on for commentary purposes but it sounded loud to me. 

None of this should detract from Farke’s achievements. It’s perfectly acceptable to be grateful for what he did for the club and also be encouraged by this apparent new direction of travel. In a move that betrays my Norfolk roots I am officially embracing the change. I don’t know what’s happened to me but I even quite like the new badge. 

There is still a lot of work to do and many challenges ahead but the Yellow Army feels more optimistic in its outlook now. I wonder if Dean Smith and Shakespeare would mind having a look at the City Hall clocks when they have a moment? 

Parking the bus

In Dean Smith’s first press conference at Carrow Road he said he wanted to make Norwich City a more difficult team to beat. He’s not one for parking the bus though. 

The new head coach has already tweaked the players’ schedule for home games. Under Daniel Farke, the squad had been meeting at Carrow Road before heading elsewhere for their pre-match meal and briefing. They would return to the ground around 90 minutes before kick-off on the team bus. 

Whether it was a show of togetherness or a bid to create the siege mentality that might come with an away trip I’m not sure. Smith has decided he wants the team to do all of its pre-match build-up at the ground. 

It meant Norwich City had to tell fans not to congregate outside the ground to welcome the team bus on Saturday. Anyone who has ever stood on Castle Meadow waiting for a bus that isn’t coming will know how frustrating that can be. 

It always amazes me how early some fans are prepared to arrive for the match. Our radio show starts at 2pm on a Saturday and we have to set the broadcast equipment up first. That means our own BBC Radio Norfolk team bus tends to get to Carrow Road for about 12.30pm for a normal 3 o’clock kick-off. Yet we are never the first ones there. 

It’s been great this season, with fans back at matches, to see the number of yellow and green scarves in evidence even at that time. It brings home what a privilege it is to be working at something that is clearly the highlight of the week for a lot of people. 

Not everyone feels the need to be there in time to see Teemu Pukki and co. negotiate the stairs off the bus.  

For a lot of fans there’s joy in arriving at the precise moment the team runs out of the tunnel. Any earlier and it’s a waste of time that could been spent in the pub or at least somewhere warm. With the prospect of COVID checks at games this season, timing one’s run to the ground has become a special skill.