Once more into the Suffolk abyss

The Man In The Stands AND so our trip to The Land that Time Forgot looms before us again. I can't say that I look forward to these visits to Suffolk's Smallville, and this year promises to be as unpleasant as any.

The Man In The Stands

AND so our trip to The Land that Time Forgot looms before us again. I can't say that I look forward to these visits to Suffolk's Smallville, and this year promises to be as unpleasant as any.

The Man, ahead of today's game at Swansea, is quite prepared for the **** game to be one of the most miserable days of his football supporting existence.

From the moment the fixture list was published the date seemed to have something ominous about it.


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After the Coventry defeat at home a few weeks ago, when all seemed lost, The Man wondered if he could even face going to the Norwich Union Stadium at all.

But as one Ipswich fan put it to me, in typical mockney phraseology, I had to “front it up”. Too right.

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Let's get into them, let's get behind the team, and who knows what could happen? OTBC.

t LET'S be honest - the atmosphere against Sheffield Wednesday was crap.

Yes we didn't play well, yes the sun was on the Barclay, yes it's all just a bit rubbish nowadays - but come on.

We are on the verge of a potentially catastrophic relegation, and if we can't get behind the team now then we never will.

Against Sheffield Wednesday it just felt to me that Carrow Road was too easy a place to come and play, off the pitch as well as on it.

Nice surface, sunny, their fans having a party in the corner of the ground - hardly a bear pit.

Of course, this is Norwich's traditional charm.

As an away fan, you have a nice pint by the river, toddle down to the ground in your colours, and invariably watch your team win. Especially if you are Sheffield Wednesday.

Hell, we'll even be nice to you (most of the time) in the pubs after the game too.

But while Carrow Road will never be La Bombonera, we can at least try to make it a little bit intimidating for the opposition, especially in the current predicament? Just a little bit?

t WE'LL TAKE THE HIGH ROAD TO WATCH CITY

AS THE Carrow Road credit crunch continues to bite, supporters hoping for a relatively exotic pre-season tour are set to be disappointed.

My Colney spy tells me that a one-week trip to Gunny's native Scotland is being lined up, with provisional plans for games against Hibernian and Falkirk.

Gunny's contract only runs until the end of the season of course; nudge, nudge, wink, wink…

Another trip to Jockland (we were last there in 2006) won't be the end of the world, but for a hardy band of City supporters a European pre-season “tour” - somewhat perversely - has become something of a highlight in recent years. The prospect of trekking to a foreign field to watch your team play has assumed an increased charm, especially if you can have a beer and sit in the sun. In a sense it is a way of escaping the banality that the rest of a joyless season will inevitably hold.

During last season's pre-season The Man found himself stumbling through a field in the middle of nowhere (Sweden) desperately trying to find where we were playing.

After regaining my balance and avoiding the cowpat, I had the football fans' equivalent of what alcoholics call a moment of clarity. At least I think it was. The Man said to himself: “So let me get this straight. You are a grown man, in a field, in the middle of agricultural Sweden, in July, trying to find out where Norwich City are playing the local village team. You have travelled hundreds of miles and paid hundreds of pounds to be here. And you just dropped your packet of salt and vinegar crisps. What, in the name of Kevin Drinkell, are you doing?”

I pondered whether I had finally gone insane. Realised I had, laughed, and carried on until I met up with all the other lunatics who suffer from a similar affliction. Scotland won't quite be the same, but we can but try.

t HATTERS' FANS MUST SHOULDER SOME OF THE BLAME

FOOTBALL fans can be a sanctimonious bunch.

We'll point the finger at overpaid players, agents, owners and Sky for the problems our clubs face; but very rarely take any responsibility ourselves.

That's why The Man couldn't fully embrace all the thumb-sucking and supporter indignation that surrounded Luton Town's trip to Wembley last weekend.

We were told The Hatters, armed with 40,000 fans, were showing the FA and the Football League exactly what they were missing out on by effectively pushing such a great club into the Conference.

The Man has sympathy for those Luton fans who've seen their club plummet through the divisions since singing “we are invincible” while 2-0 up at Carrow Road in 2006.

But the simple fact is that, even if just one quarter of the Luton “fans” who made the trip to Wembley last weekend had regularly visited Kenilworth Road in the past couple of years, they would not be in anywhere near the financial trouble they find themselves in now. They only averaged 8,500 in our division and crowds have plunged since.

Yes, the club was clearly poorly run from the top down, but taking 40,000 fans a few miles up the road to Wembley is one thing, having the passion to sustain decent support and keep the club going week-on-week is another. So while those Luton fans were busy vilifying the football authorities last week for “destroying” their club, they could have equally taken umbrage with a few people sitting next to them too.

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