Innocent tweet caused a Britt of a stir among Norwich City fans

Norwich City supremo David McNally keeps a close eye on the latest Canaries-related tweets.

Norwich City supremo David McNally keeps a close eye on the latest Canaries-related tweets. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

We’re roughly halfway through the January transfer window and so far, but for Elliott Ward rejoining Nottingham Forest on loan, the Carrow Road revolving door might have been full of cobwebs.

This is what usually happens. Fans spend weeks eagerly anticipating the start of this month long spending spree having scoured websites, newspaper gossip columns and even their own experience on computer management games to come up with their personal list of must have players to send to football’s version of Santa. And then it goes quieter than some struggling high street stores in the sales.

Such is the thirst for Norwich City transfer news that for about an hour last week a goalkeeper called William Britt became Norfolk’s most talked about footballer. No, I hadn’t heard of him either, but when the Southampton youth team player innocently tweeted that he was off to Norwich on loan he cannot have imagined the social media storm in a tea cup he was about to unleash beyond his few hundred followers.

The increasing popularity of Twitter means there is more than enough hot air to fill any vacuum during a quiet transfer window. So much so that when an actual player posts something meaningful the entire internet is put on the verge of meltdown.

It wasn’t long before Britt’s message was seized upon by Norwich fans putting two and two together and coming up with the sort of baffling mathematics which proves it would never be a good idea to put supporters in charge of a club’s actual transfer budget. Some decided that it must mean John Ruddy was being sold while those of a particular nervous disposition quickly convinced themselves that Norwich were about to put the goalkeeping responsibilities for the second half of the Premier League season into the hands of an untried teenager.

It didn’t make much sense. Even with Ruddy sidelined Norwich are well stocked for goalkeepers with Mark Bunn, Declan Rudd and Jed Steer all fit and vying for the number one jersey.

There turned out to be a perfectly rational explanation. Norwich City’s chief executive David McNally proved that Twitter, when used properly, can be a reliable source of information, using his own account to explain that Britt was indeed training with Norwich City but only to provide cover for the youth team and on no more formal an arrangement than “work experience”. The tweeting Canaries took a deep breath and returned to the highest possible online perch to continue the collective month long lookout for new signings.

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The episode may not have been the transfer breakthrough we had all been waiting for but it left me with nothing but admiration for William Britt. Doing your work experience as a goalkeeper for Norwich City is something which cannot be sniffed at, especially by someone who spent their own two-week placement in the dark and dingy basement stock room of the now defunct Virgin Megastore in Castle Mall.

Why didn’t the 15-year-old me, back in 1997, have the chutzpah to even ask if I could have a go at playing in goal for Norwich City for a couple of weeks? It shows a paucity of imagination and ambition on my part. I would not have been much good but it would have been better than trying to track down a missing copy of Daniel O’Donnell’s last album which, according to Virgin’s print out, was somewhere in amongst that room full of thousands upon thousands of CDs.

Richard Branson never did give me any credit for that small part I played in making him millions. In fact such was the lack of any sort of impression that when I returned to the store the week after my work experience to buy a CD, I was not recognised at all by any of the staff.

There was an important life lesson in there somewhere.


While Norwich City fans will have their attention firmly on events at Anfield on Saturday, the start of a major football tournament may slip under the radar.

This weekend sees the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations kick off in South Africa. The British attitude to the competition from fans and, dare I say, managers tends to be that it is something of an inconvenience.

Tottenham have spent much of the past week apparently hoping striker Emmanual Adebayor would choose not to go and play for Togo. It’s understandable as they pay him handsomely for his troubles and his absence at a crucial time of the season is not great timing for Spurs, but what if the boot was on the other foot?

Imagine if Wayne Rooney played football in, for argument’s sake, Morocco and his club refused to release him to play for England in the European Championships? There would be national outcry. Yet here it is somehow acceptable to tut and roll eyes about a tournament good enough for Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure and, in years gone by, Samuel Eto getting in the way of our precious Premier League.

It is not as if any of this should come as a great surprise. Presumably Spurs knew that Adebayor was from Africa when they signed him, unless they really hadn’t done their homework.

British football fans tend to be one-eyed in their approach to the wide world of football. Any player who wants to go abroad is viewed with great suspicion. Two former Norwich players have broadened their horizons this season.

David Bentley is on loan with the Russian team FC Rostov while Rob Earnshaw is back at Cardiff after a spell with Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel. It’s been all but impossible to follow their progress without digging down into the darkest corners of the internet.

So give the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations a chance. I’m lending my support to the minnows from Cape Verde who take on the hosts on the opening day. Why Cape Verde? Well The Blue Sharks (I’ve got all the lingo) knocked out Cameroon in the qualifying tournament which ended any possibility that Norwich City’s Sebastien Bassong might get a call-up. The canaries really would not have wanted to be without their stand out central defender over the next month.

He might have missed the games against Liverpool, Luton, Tottenham, QPR and Fulham.

It seems ACoN is easier to embrace when it doesn’t affect your team. In the meantime I’m sure Lucio Antunes’ men will do us proud.