Ian Clarke: Nine reasons why Lord Nelson’s goal could prove so crucial ahead of derby day
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Among the many tweets which flew around after Saturday’s late drama at NR1, one particular message caught my eye.
It read: “Football: celebrating maniacally when you equalise to draw at home against a team with ten men who haven’t won away in 13 months.”
I know where the tweeter was coming from, even though I was one of the “guilty” fans. Elsewhere in this column I make an admission about my childish behaviour at about 4.55pm after Nelson Oliveira’s goal hit the back of the net in front of the River End.
There are certain moments that happen in a season which turn out to be pivotal.
Oliveira’s late, late strike doesn’t mean we’re all of a sudden going to romp the Championship and storm to cup glory.
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The beautiful flick actually masked some negatives from earlier in the game (slow tempo and a bit of predictability, especially against 10 men, are two of the issues which need to be addressed).
But as we gear up for a massively exciting few days, let’s allow ourselves to get excited. The downsides can be discussed on another day.
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What, after all, is football about if you can’t be pumped for an East Anglian derby and the prospect of 8,800 City fans roaring on the boys at Arsenal?
Using the shirt number of our beloved Nelson as inspiration, let me suggest nine reasons why THAT goal could be significant as this season unfolds.
1 The goal proves the never say die attitude in the squad. For so long it seemed as if it was going to be one of those days. Nothing seemed to be going our way. But the boys kept going and going and they were rewarded for the persistence. That meant so much in the context of that game and for the weeks and months ahead. Fans love to see players refusing to lie down and lose - and a 96th minute leveller is a perfect way to do that.
2 It shows how much success means to head coach Daniel Farke, his backroom staff and the rest of the squad. How good was it to watch Farke charging across the pitch to celebrate the goal?! Supporters are madly passionate and when we witness the boss show off the same feelings it warms our hearts - and Farke even took his coat off! It was also great to see Angus Gunn sprint the length of the field to join in the huddle. It reminded me of the moment a certain John Ruddy celebrated Simeon Jackson’s winner against Derby in front of the Snake Pit in that 2011 season.
3 History backs it up. There’s been a lot of talk about the 2010/11 season this week and all the late goals in that year. If only we can replicate the rest of the year.
4 The goal prompted Oliveira to get the ball rolling nicely ahead of Sunday’s derby. We’ve had too many tepid Norwich v Ipswich games in recent years and I sometimes wonder if all the players quite get it. Nelson certainly seems to and I love the fact that he has got the pot boiling.
5 It keeps the momentum going. Imagine if City had allowed Hull to gain their first away win for 14 months and if City had gone three games at home without a goal. The pre-derby cup would be very much half empty. Instead it’s definitely half full.
6 A positive result at Portman Road would mean we’ve gone nine games unbeaten. The awful reversal at Millwall at the end of August seems a long time ago. The longer the run goes on, the more we can start to believe. Without that equaliser, we’d be back to square one.
7 NO has rightly got loads of praise for his delightful finish against Hull. Let’s not forget the part his striking partner Cameron Jerome played with the headed assist. Is two up front the way forward for every game? Probably not. But that goal shows how effective it is and I’d like Farke to see them playing together more.
8 Avoiding defeat against the old enemy would also extend the unbeaten run in derbies to nine. It was April 2009 when we last lost to the Tractor Boys. Think back to all those heroes from Norwich v Ipswich matches down the years. I certainly wouldn’t bet against Oliveira joining the hall of fame on Sunday.
9 And I can’t let any column within a few days of a Norwich v Ipswich match which is based on the number nine to pass without mentioning the aggregate from the 2010/11 season. A big thanks to the club for tweeting highlights of the 5-1 victory at Portman Road, which of course followed the 4-1 at Carra earlier in the year. A few things stand out from that amazing win at Portman Road. The goals, the significance for the promotion push, that through ball from Wes - and Hoolahan’s hair!
I’ll try to act my age at the Emirates
I should know better at my age.
I’m 47 years old and have seen more than a few exciting finishes to City matches in all my years of being a fan.
However, I just can’t grow out of getting a bit carried away when we score late on to grab a win or vital draw.
If ever I write a book about being a football supporter, there will be a chapter on injuries I have picked up celebrating (my mates will certainly never let me forget the falling over the paving slab incident after we beat Portsmouth to win promotion back in May 2011).
Getting a home draw against Hull in October in the Championship will never compete with heading to the Premier League.
But I still couldn’t resist getting on my seat to celebrate Nelson’s goal on Saturday.
Those around me just laugh at me when I do it now.
I will try to act my age at the Emirates, especially as we’re in the top tier.
If someone becomes a cup hero late on, though, I can’t guarantee what I will do.
“Football is not a matter of life and death - it’s more important than that.”
There are few better known sayings relating to football - but I just can’t agree with it.
Yes, I love the beautiful game.
Of course I’m desperate for the Canaries to have the bragging rights after the derby.
And I will be screaming my head off at the Emirates.
But there are things which matter so much more than football.
That was put into sharp focus when we heard this week about the death of Terry Butcher’s son Christopher at the age of just 35.
Butcher was the arch enemy when he played for the Blues in many Old Farm games.
At this time we stand with him and offer our condolences and best wishes to him and all his family.
I’m sure there will be a mention of Christopher at Sunday’s game and I was glad that Norwich City tweeted a message of support to Butcher with the hashtag #footballfamily.