Poison in the air at Carrow Road
Midweek home games used to be a real headache. Travelling to Carrow Road from the capital on a Tuesday or Wednesday, when the last train left Norwich 20 minutes into the second half, meant that any home game used to mean a drive to Norwich and a return journey back down the A11 that seemed twice as long as the outward trip.
Midweek home games used to be a real headache.
Travelling to Carrow Road from the capital on a Tuesday or Wednesday, when the last train left Norwich 20 minutes into the second half, meant that any home game used to mean a drive to Norwich and a return journey back down the A11 that seemed twice as long as the outward trip. Driving back, often arriving home well after midnight, made it a very, very long day.
Last year things changed. A new train magically appeared on the timetable that left Norwich at 10pm, meaning that the Capital Canaries could travel by train for midweek matches. The only danger is being stranded in central London if there is a delay, which, by luck or good judgment by whoever runs the trains, has only happened to me once so far.
Despite Norwich's recent poor form, the inclement weather and that it was Valentine's Day, there were a number of us on the 4.30pm from Liverpool Street on Tuesday afternoon. Time passes quickly in good company and a bag full of beers and at 6.20pm, we arrived at Norwich and at 6.25pm I was in the Rosary Tavern enjoying the first of a few pints of Norfolk's finest.
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Just over an hour later, as I entered the ground and took my seat in the Jarrold Stand, I was struck by the lack of atmosphere. The stadium announcer, perhaps primed with some tips from his manic Reading counterpart, implored the crowd for a rousing chorus of "On the Ball City", but it seemed that no one really wanted to sing.
After the first five minutes, Peter Thorne missed a decent chance, but there was little else on the pitch to get the crowd excited. Plenty of short passes round the back more often than not ended up with a hoof up the pitch and with Youssef Safri not having having his best game, the midfield just seemed to stop functioning and have no balance.
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Just before Darren Huckerby's sweet strike, the ball was passed back to Robert Green, prompting yet another more than audible groan from the crowd. After our route one goal, Green cupped his hand to his ear, baiting the Jarrold Stand. He was obviously not impressed with the crowd, but the same could be said of what the crowd thought of Norwich's performance.
The same poisonous atmosphere was in the air for the rest of the first half and most of the second. What little noise in the crowd was mostly made up of taunts between the Snakepit and the Barclay. With the game winding down and Norwich's 1-0 lead looking more and more precarious against the 10 men of relegation-threatened Brighton, the "Worthy out" chants started, but two late goals from Robert Earnshaw temporarily silenced the protests and papered over the cracks of another awful Norwich display.
If this is the atmosphere when we win, what will it be like when we play this badly and lose, which is going happen more often that not if there are repeats of Tuesday's performance?
I have a feeling, though, that the atmosphere at Carrow Road will need to get much worse before the board act. Let us hope, for the club's sake, it is not before all the goodwill that has been built up between the board and the fans over the past few years has run out.