Chris Goreham: Perhaps we just know too much about Norwich City now
- Credit: Archant
Modern technology is great in many ways but I miss the days when you really couldn’t watch Norwich City play.
Just like Todd Cantwell and Emi Buendia I didn’t make the trip to Bournemouth on Sunday. In my case it definitely wasn’t a response to any bids from other clubs. I don’t even have an agent to get my name out there when the transfer deadline looms large. Instead the BBC Radio Norfolk management decided to rotate the squad to keep me fresh enough to present Monday’s Breakfast Show.
It meant experiencing that strange feeling that comes with not being at a match when you usually are. This is something that all Carrow Road regulars have discovered since behind closed doors football emerged unhappily from lockdown.
Many supporters have relied on the iFollow service which is provided through the websites of most EFL clubs. It means that for a crisp tenner you can watch live pictures of the Canaries’ games without having to travel to places like Bournemouth on a Sunday afternoon.
It is right that games are made accessible to fans while they are deprived of the opportunity to actually go. The idea of being able to watch any match you like from the comfort of your own home is still pretty mind blowing to me.
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When I was growing up away games were a rare treat. It meant finding other ways of keeping up with the score. In a pre-internet age this wasn’t always easy.
Roy Waller was a reassuring presence with his commentaries but if you weren’t in a position to listen live it could be several hours before you actually knew how City had got on.
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I recall being at a family gathering in 1992 and being told by someone who had just arrived that Norwich were 7-1 down at Blackburn Rovers. How could that be possible? There was no way of checking for sure unless an adult could be persuaded to dial up page 302 on Ceefax.
Its rolling score service proved better than anything I can think of the old adage that less is more. The wait for the page with Norwich’s game to tick round again was as tense as anything that Hollywood has ever created. The hope that ‘Fleck 56’ or ‘Rosario 71’ might finally appear under Norwich City’s name followed by the disappointment that it hadn’t was a good life lesson.
The lack of detail left room for imagination. Any goal, from tap-in to 25-yard screamer, was treated exactly the same. Occasionally Ceefax would tease eager viewers with other little headlines from the games. Things like ‘Gordon stretchered off’ or ‘Gunn sent off’ would help build a pixelated picture of what was going on at Kenilworth Road, The Baseball Ground or Villa Park.
MORE: Daniel Farke’s game of pokerThe worst Saturdays were the ones which included Ceefax separation. Being dispatched to a friend’s birthday party, a Cub camp or a shopping trip meant having to wonder what the score was. One of the busiest places in the city on a Saturday afternoon when I was growing up was the pavement outside any shop that sold televisions. The crafty shopkeepers knew that putting Grandstand on the screens in the window would be guaranteed to draw a crowd.
The sound of Des Lynam or Steve Rider wouldn’t make it through the glass but the flicker of the vidiprinter was utterly mesmerising. Eventually Norwich City’s score would be spelt out letter by letter, number by number to audible cheers or curses depending on how it had gone. I am sure I learnt some new words standing outside TV show rooms on Saturday afternoons that would cause trouble at school on Monday morning.
Once the scores were in people would disperse and just get on with their lives. I don’t remember the extremes of anger and jubilation that greet every single result long into the evening now.
Perhaps we just know too much. When you’ve spent good money, given up your afternoon and worked out to connect your laptop to the TV a 1-0 defeat at Bournemouth is going to feel extremely frustrating. Bournemouth 1 (Danjuma 35) Norwich City 0 is sometimes all you need.