Kei Kamara writing his own script for Norwich City stage
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
As Hollywood’s finest gathered on the red carpet for The Oscars, all the talk in Norfolk was of the latest high octane drama with the incredible twist at the end.
It’s all about a man who, having escaped warn-torn Sierra Leone, makes his life in the United States. His talent for soccer helps him live the American dream before being spotted by a team playing in one of the best leagues in the world. The star of our story goes on to score a bullet header on his first significant appearance for his new club.
Any self-respecting big time movie producer would have stopped reading this pitch about two sentences ago. “I’m sorry, kid,” he’d be saying in a harsh American drawl as he screwed up my piece of paper “This is too far-fetched.”
Thankfully, Kei Kamara is no respecter of the forms and conventions of the silver screen. I’m pretty sure his all-action performance at Carrow Road against Everton happened in real life, unless 3D films have improved beyond all recognition since I last saw one. That is the great advantage that football has over cinema when it comes to providing entertainment. It doesn’t have to all make sense in the end.
Norwich City’s two previous matches had prompted a debate about how much responsibility top-flight football teams have to entertain a public paying more than ever for their tickets. The very dry goalless draws against QPR and Fulham had some fans looking less at the potentially valuable pair of points that had been won than at whether they were getting true value for money for their entrance fee. If you’re the sort of person that needs to be promised flashing lights, explosions and whizz bangs every time you leave the house then you are better spending your hard-earned cash at your nearest multiplex rather than following a football team.
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Part of the true sense of adventure when it comes to watching sport is that you are buying a ticket for the great unknown. Every supporter is well aware that there is a chance they might be about to sit through a stinker of a nil-nil draw every time they buy a ticket for a game. In the cinema the feature you are about to watch has been written and produced to within an inch of its life long before you sit down behind your giant bucket of popcorn.
The enjoyment and entertainment on offer from football goes far beyond what happens on the actual pitch. It’s the atmosphere, the conversations with those in the neighbouring seats and the knowledge that, even if it is a poor old game, something brilliant might be about to happen as those lucky enough to be at Carrow Road on Saturday discovered again.
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Barry Norman and Mark Kermode would of course point out that, at its best, cinema can be just as powerful, emotionally engaging and socially uniting, but give me an afternoon under the floodlights over one in a darkened room where you have to be quiet any day.
In fact I have spent so much of my life watching football that it tends to colour my judgment of films. I thought Daniel Craig was looking a bit tired towards the end of Skyfall. He had run himself into the ground and if I was his manager I would have taken him off with 20 minutes of the film to go and put Connery or Moore on from the substitutes’ bench. For me, 007 was crying out for a bit of experience to close the game out.
• EX-CANARY BILLY IS ON SONG WITH ODE TO FORMER HOME
You never quite know when a former Norwich City player might cross your path. When it happens it is always exciting.
Twitter is often alive with excitable sightings of things like Iwan Roberts filling up his car at a petrol station, Darren Huckerby queuing in a supermarket or Bryan Gunn dining in a restaurant. Once a player has worn a Canary on his chest he becomes a talking point for the rest of his life.
In days gone by, when footballers were not so well paid, many would have to get a ‘proper’ job driving lorries, selling houses or, to use the ultimate retired footballer cliché, running a pub.
Last week an ex-Canary turned up in my e-mail inbox at BBC Radio Norfolk completely out of the blue. Cards on the table, Billy Steele was not a name that immediately sprang to mind. A bit of light internet research revealed a Norwich career which lasted for 76 games and three goals in the 1970s. His is now a name firmly ingrained on my mind, not so much for his football as his singing.
The e-mail was sent from Canada and included a song called ‘When the Sun Comes Out in Norwich’. It’s a love letter to the city which name checks the market, the puppet man and other famous Norwich landmarks and it is sung by the one and only Billy Steele.
It turns out that Steele is now involved with a junior football club in Toronto and brings a team over to play in Norfolk every year.
The trips have been enough to move some of the members of the club to music and this track is the result.
I played a section of it on the breakfast programme last week and invited the BBC Radio Norfolk audience to play judge and jury, X-Factor style. ‘When the Sun Comes Out in Norwich’ was favourably received, more for its lyrical content than it’s execution.
Steele and his team are due back in the city next month.
Whether that is time enough to arrange a live performance of the track remains to be seen, but Gentlemans Walk deserves to hear it during a busy lunchtime. It will be nice to get the puppet man dancing to a different tune for a few minutes at least.