Di Cunningham: How not to miss Carrow Road... let me count the ways

Getting the #LetFansIn message across at Carrow Road on Saturday Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Imag

Getting the #LetFansIn message across at Carrow Road on Saturday Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Fan Zone columnist Di Cunningham on the matchday experience she reckons is as surreal as a melting clock...

Norwich City's joint majority shareholders, front, Delia Smith, right, and Michael Wynn Jones Pictur

Norwich City's joint majority shareholders, front, Delia Smith, right, and Michael Wynn Jones Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City shared the sporting hashtag of the moment on Saturday; #LetFansIn was cycled on LED boards pitch side, on scoreboards and on Carrow Road’s unique rotating screen (that should be ‘the screen formerly known as rotating given no adjustment in its orientation is required while the seats of the Barclay faithful remain empty. I’d guess the screen’s gimbals will need thorough service when we are let back in).

And Delia shared the appeal, asking the regulators ‘What more can we do?’ That question has to be answered before that legendary Smith rallying cry of old: ’Let’s be ‘avin you’ can be legitimately reissued.

And what more can the club do? They conducted the successful Covid-secure pilot for the Preston game. And now, highlighting the manifest absurdity of the new guidance which forbids open-air spectating at games in the top leagues but permits viewing of streams within in-stadium Lounge bars, they’ve hosted fans safely inside Carrow Road to watch a TV relay of a game being played out within chanting distance. It could be an avant garde performance art piece – for me it’s up there with melting clocks and lobster phones for peak surrealism. I hope the FA and EFL, with the Culture Secretary, see sense so we can see football from the stands again soon. If you feel the same way head to the FSA #LetFansIn petition and put your name to it.

I don’t miss live football … I don’t miss live football.. I don’t miss live football. Of course I miss live football. When Mario scored on Saturday I flung open my French windows and bellowed “Yeeeeeeeeeees! Mariooooooo!”, partly to release the tension but also to be part of a community of others doing the same or similar. I miss that togetherness, with mates and with nodding acquaintances in and around my row, some of whose names I know, others who I’ve asked too many times to ask again.


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I wrote in my last column the toll that being excluded from this key part of our lives can take. So I thought I’d try to remember all the things I really don’t like very much about going to football matches to see if that made me feel better about the new normal. Spoiler alert – it’s a fail!

The incomprehensible tannoy announcements

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Actually I can hear the Carrow Road bing-bong from my house and I’ve realised that I love that muffled burbling.

The smell of onions

Whatever is in the match day pie, onions are a default staple ingredient so the concourses invariably smell of onion and as I have a mild food intolerance, this can make me queasy. Recently, though, I’ve felt like frying some up at home to amplify the iFollow experience with some scratch and sniff.

The queue for the ladies loo

In the Geoffrey Watling there are four cubicles, so the wait-in-line can be a long one. But in these times of social isolation what price would I put on the value of that time chatting about the game, the club, the players with a large group of other women?

Layers

I hate being too hot or too cold so before the days of turnstile searches I used to pack a large bag and be ready for most weathers and the bitter chill of the Carrow Road plastic seats. But then I simply wore all my layers to the ground and got over-warm en route. Rather that though than acclimatised home TV viewing – and, oh, how I miss choosing which shirt and which scarf to wear.

The Moaners

I’m lucky mostly, there aren’t too many where I sit and of course we’re all entitled to take issue with poor performance. But occasionally, sitting elsewhere for cup games or at an away fixture, I’m aware of folks who seem to want players to fail to justify their pessimism.

This is probably the only negative that I can’t re-rationalise as something to be missed. But in contrast to the unfettered whingeing on socials we’ve seen since lockdown I’d suggest that when people vent at the ground they usually pay some attention to those around them and wind it in a little.

Ok – so I still miss live football. #LetFansIn!

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