Robin Sainty: Pros and cons of being a Norwich fan

Kenny McLean of Norwich and Billy Gilmour of Norwich look dejected after their side concedes it’s

Norwich City need to give fans a show of commitment when they head to Charlton this weekend - and beyond - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

It’s never been particularly easy to be a Norwich City fan.

The club has never been rich or fashionable, nor has its trophy room ever bulged with cups, while the lazy stereotypical view of Norfolk people is constantly seized upon by opposing fans. 

On the positive side, that makes the highs so much more enjoyable because they don’t come around on a regular basis, but the negative is that we all learn to develop a degree of fatalism because we know that another low might be just around the corner. 

When times are tough, we bicker and we argue and sometimes we split into factions, but there are two things that will always unite us; a successful City team on the pitch and being picked on by people who haven’t bothered to try to understand what makes us tick. 

Ever since the season started, City have been sniped at from all quarters as the national media and broadcasters have made it very clear that their presence in the Premier League is unwelcome, with one presenter on TalkSport even suggesting that if City go down they should receive a points deduction in next season’s Championship for not trying hard enough to stay up (or, to put it another way, for daring not to spend money they don’t have and risking the club’s existence). 

While that sort of thing is irritating it’s been nothing compared to the assault on the club’s reputation over the abusive chant briefly aimed at Billy Gilmour by a small group of City fans during the defeat at Crystal Palace which was, somewhat unwisely, spread far and wide on social media, leading to two Times journalists seeing an opportunity to stick the boot into City and their supporters. 

First up was Henry Winter who opined that this 30-second incident would make clubs reluctant to send players out on loan to Carrow Road, clearly having ignored the glowing reports from Spurs and Oliver Skipp himself about how he was treated at City. 

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However, that paled into insignificance compared to the exercise in condescension from his colleague Alyson Rudd, who believes that “Norwich are proving highly annoying this season” and that Gilmour is simply being picked on because he is “an outsider”. 

The reality is that Gilmour has been criticised not because he’s “an outsider” but because his performances have been bang average, yet we are told week after week by Chelsea fans and the media that he is the next Andrea Pirlo. 

As I said last week, most Norwich supporters would condemn the chant, but it is fact that the excessive hype about the lad allied to pieces like this are only serving to inflame the situation, and I have every sympathy for Gilmour himself, who is being used to justify the righteous indignation of others and suffering as a result. 

Hopefully a sense of injustice at these attacks might re-engage the City faithful who have seen precious little on the pitch to lift them, and it really is time for the players to make a statement. 

Norwich Head Coach Dean Smith and Norwich Assistant Head Coach Craig Shakespeare during the Premier

Norwich head coach Dean Smith and assistant Craig Shakespeare - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

And hopefully they all watched the game between Brentford and Manchester City at the end of last month, in which the Bees made the prospective champions battle hard for their 1-0 win for the full 90 minutes, despite barely mounting an attack themselves. Alan Smith on co-commentary praised their “determination to stay in the game despite being outclassed” and that is just what we want and need to see from City going forward. 

Brentford are no more technically gifted than the Canaries, and their biggest summer signing, Kristoffer Ajer, has made only six appearances for them, yet every single one of their players looked ready to give everything he had for the shirt, and that in turn pulled the crowd along with them. 

Surely, it’s not too much to ask that we see more of that sort of total commitment from City’s players?