Ian Clarke: The crucial period at Norwich City before season ticket renewal time
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Who has a spring in their step and can’t wait for Saturday’s game then?
I’ve just heard the weather forecast and it’s going to be a very chilly one for the 5.30pm kick-off.
It’s one of the busiest shopping days of the year so there’s the joyful prospect of battling through the traffic heading to the game.
Hopefully, if you weren’t already enthused ahead of the visit of Sheffield Wednesday, I’ve helped a little bit....
Having been going to Carrow Road for four decades, I’ve known plenty of gloomy times around the club.
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We have certainly not reached those points as low as the “Chase out” days or those dark afternoons of mass protests to get rid of certain managers.
Remember, it’s only 44 days since nearly 9,000 of us hailed the gutsy display at the Emirates and we were so close to pulling off a fantastic League Cup win.
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- 9 Norwich City kick-off times changed due to TV coverage
- 10 Canaries drawn to face Coventry City at Carrow Road in FA Cup third round
There have been a good number of positive moments this term.
So why do so many loyal City fans I speak to feel so flat about the Canaries at the moment?
If I had a pound for every time down the years I’ve heard fellow supporters say: “Right, that’s it, I’m not going to renew my season ticket” I’d be able to pay to get Harry Kane back to NR1.
Football fans love a moan.
They pay their money and have a good old bleat when things are down.
Just now, however, I’ve sensed a feeling that an increasing number of diehard Norwich supporters really are genuine in questioning whether or not they will renew next term.
I was at the Dereham Christmas lights switch on at the weekend, an event which brings thousands of people on to the streets in the heart of Norfolk.
Dereham, like so many of our market towns, has a huge City fan base.
As I wandered around the stalls and in between singing festive songs, I bumped into plenty of old faces and it didn’t take long for the subject to turn to the plight of Daniel Farke’s team.
“I arnt enjoyin’ it no more.”
“I reckon I int gonna get my ticket again.”
“Thass just so dull and I carnt get enthused.”
“I’m hevvin trouble even giving my ticket away at the moment.”
The theme from the broad Norfolk accents was very, very similar.
I hate being negative about my team and for the record I will be renewing my pew in the upper deck of the River End, whatever happens during the rest of this campaign.
I assume the top brass at Carrow Road are currently pondering long and hard about the policy for season ticket prices for 2018/19.
No date has been announced for when the big envelopes will start dropping through our letter boxes, but I guess it won’t be too long into January before all is revealed.
There wasn’t too much fiscal cheer emanating from last week’s Carrow Road AGM.
Assuming City can’t suddenly burst into the promotion race, the parachute payments will run out at the end of this campaign.
There will inevitably be pressure to sell the prized assets and the belts will need to be done up tighter and tighter.
During the rollercoaster of recent years – when we’ve had some highs of reaching the Premier League and lows of heading down in to the third tier – crowds have stayed, relatively, much the same.
The loyalty of City supporters is amazing.
My fear, however, is that if we are driving towards a prolonged period stuck in the Championship, that may change.
Of course I hope I’m wrong.
When you watch the Football League Show, so many grounds in the second tier have countless empty seats week in, week out.
The City board can’t rely on the blind loyalty of fans forever.
I know times are tough and the temptation must be to put a few quid on each ticket to plug the financial gap.
My plea, however, is for them to be frozen. No other option seems reasonable to me.
The message a rise would send out could be the final straw for many of the waverers.
It’s not just about the pricing structure.
Over these coming weeks – starting on Saturday – we just have to see more excitement, inspiration and get up and go from the players, and led by the head coach.
We’re entering a pivotal time for our football club where we can either see a determination to reverse the slump and get fans off their seats or a depressing acceptance of a continuation of a decline into obscurity.
None of us wants the latter and let’s keep Carrow Road full and rocking. OTBC.
Sometimes you just have to laugh
It’s not exactly a bundle of fun being a Norwich fan at the moment.
Smiles at Carrow Road are about as rare as goals.
So maybe it’s time to have a laugh at our own expense...
Here goes (courtesy of my good mate and fellow Upper River End season ticket holder Brett Gates - so blame him if it doesn’t make you chuckle...)
I saw a City fan walking down the road with his little dog today.
It was trotting along balancing on its back legs and holding a ball on its nose.
The dog then did a back flip, twist in the air and sang a little song.
‘Wow, that’s impressive,” I said.
‘It always does this when the Canaries don’t win,’ he replied.
‘If that’s what he does when we don’t win, what does he do when Norwich get three points then?’ I asked him.
‘Dunno,’ my mate said slowly, looking a little bit sad.
‘I only bought it after we beat Ipswich at Portman Road...’
Good luck to my blood!
I remember when I was a kid I went to watch City train at the old Trowse ground.
John Bond was manager, Ken Brown was his number two and I was awestruck by getting close to my heroes and having pictures taken with them.
Martin Peters, Justin Fashanu, John Ryan, Kevin Bond... they were all there.
My mum had arranged the trip for me and she said to John Bond: “Ian eats, sleeps and drinks Norwich City.”
Bondy patted me on the head and said something along the lines of: “Good lad.” Loved him!
Some things haven’t changed in the 40 or so years since then.
You have your football team and support them through the thick and thin.
Yes, my blood probably is yellow and green.
So on that theme I had a chuckle when I got a text from the National Blood Service after I gave my latest pint.
“Your donation has now been issued to Ipswich Hospital.”
Good luck down there to whoever gets that pint!