Chris Goreham: I finally know why City kick towards The Barclay in the first half...
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City’s 0-0 draw with Bolton may not have provided much to write home about but it did inspire a ‘Eureka’ moment for me when it comes to solving one of Carrow Road’s great mysteries.
I have always wondered why The Canaries tend to kick towards The Barclay in the first half of matches.
It strikes me as being absurd given that most teams are well known for wanting to attack the end which houses their most vocal supporters when the game reaches its climax. Liverpool famously prefer to attack Anfield’s Kop in the second half while Manchester United’s Stretford End and Crystal Palace’s Homesdale Road fall into the same category.
Perhaps it’s a Norfolk thing and we just like to do things differently to the rest of the country but it’s definitely deliberate because the Canaries also warm-up before the match at The River End of their home ground, allowing the Barclay to have an early opportunity to get to know the visiting goalkeeper.
It may seem like a trivial niggle when compared to the grand scheme of a Norwich City season during which signs of promise are being undermined by a lack of goals at either end of the ground but I know I’m not alone because a few other fans have asked whether there is an explanation for this quaint behaviour.
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One theory has been that The Barclay half of the ground is where away fans have traditionally been housed at Carrow Road but clubs don’t tend to go out of their way when it comes to appeasing visiting supporters.
There were one or two gasps in the ground on Saturday when Bolton, as Ipswich had done six days earlier, turned the teams around before kick-off. You’d expect that lot from Suffolk to want to interfere with our rhythm and traditions but what have we ever done to upset The Trotters?
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During that first half the penny dropped. As Grant Hanley shielded his eyes before challenging for one of Bolton’s long balls through the middle I realised that it’s all the sun’s fault, and I don’t mean the newspaper.
The pesky ball of gas may be vital to life on Earth but its tactics are somewhat predictable with its insistence on setting to the west every day. This coupled with Carrow Road geography means that the lazy winter sun is dropping just behind The River End at around 3 o’clock on a Saturday during the season and spends 45 minutes shining directly into the eyes of the goalkeeper and defenders guarding the opposite end of the ground.
I am no professor Brian Cox but this seems like the most logical explanation for a keenness to have the first go at attacking The Barclay.
Not that aiming at that goal has been particularly fruitful for Norwich City at all this season.
Timm Klose’s dramatic stoppage equaliser in The East Anglian Derby was just the fifth Championship goal that City have scored at what we tend to think of as their favoured end of the ground this season. City surpassed that total in one half last season when they stuck six past Reading in the first period in front of the Barclay.
A colleague of mine has a season ticket in that area and recently bemoaned the lack of goals he and his Snake Pit colleagues had been treated to this season.
Being a true commentator, I didn’t just take his word for it, I looked up the statistics and he’s right.
If you are a regular at the River End of Carrow Road then you are basking in the land of yellow and green milk and honey.
Norwich may only have scored 17 league goals at home this season but 12 of them have been at that end.
Maybe the goalless draw with Bolton gave me a bit too much time to think.
Yellow and green dream
Norwich City’s trip to Wolves last week was one of those rare justified away kit occasions for the Canaries.
It’s not often that our distinctive yellow and green colour scheme clashes with another team. This is one of the many joyous things about supporting City, watching The Reds v The Blues every week would be so dull.
So against Wolves, a team supported by Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plant to the extent that he was recently presented with an award by former England striker and Molineux hero Steve Bull, the Canaries played in Deep Purple.
Now that football has become commercially savvy and clubs realise they are probably more likely to sell second and third strips to dedicated supporters who want to dress like their heroes if they actually see them wearing those different colours in matches from time to time it doesn’t necessarily take a clash of kits to encourage clubs to abandon their traditional colours for an afternoon.
This wasn’t always the case and there was a glorious time in the early 1990s when Norwich City went to all the time and trouble to produce an away strip even though they never really had a cause to use it.
The Canaries were an established top flight club while Wolves, Watford and Oxford had fallen on comparatively harder times. Burton Albion were in the Southern League and so only the lottery of a cup draw would provide us with a proper reason to play in anything other than yellow and green.
I only ever bought one away kit. It was the support act to the iconic egg and cress number that served Mike Walker’s men well in Europe.
The alternative was white with purple sleeves that contained white swirls. I liked it because it was a departure. Until that point the club had tended to make the design of the away kit exactly the same as the first choice but just turned all the yellow bits to white.
I still like that shirt even though Norwich only actually ever played one competitive match in it as far as I know and that ended in a 2-1 defeat at Bradford in the League Cup.
Yellow may be a slightly eccentric colour for a football team to play in but it never did Brazil any harm.