Score-bored failure a sad highlight of Norwich City stalemate
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City and Fulham almost redefined the word stalemate at Carrow Road on Saturday. It had goalless draw written all over it from very early on as two sides level on points in the Premier League totally cancelled each other out.
In fact, it was so nil-nil that the scoreboards at either end of the ground were literally blank for much of the second half.
Let’s not poke fun at the poor person who has the job of keeping the identical narrow computerised screens, one in the Barclay and one in the River End, in check.
Modern technology can do it to any of us on a whim and often at the most inconvenient time. In fact some of the best and wittiest lines ever written for this column have never made it to print because of my laptop’s propensity to take an hour off every now and then.
Some experts have put this down to something called ‘operator error’. Most weeks, by the end of writing this, me and my laptop have the sort of relationship endured by Basil Fawlty and his car.
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So it was with some sympathy that I noticed the clock on the scoreboards stick on 61 minutes and one second on Saturday.
Then, to predictable ironic cheers from a crowd starved of goalmouth incident, they went blank. ‘Norwich 0 Fulham 0’ was replaced by nothing but black.
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It seemed a fitting comment on a game that was already drifting by very slowly at that point.
The distant cries of “have you tried turning it off and turning it back on again?” could almost be heard coming from the offices in the bowels of the ground followed by “well, just wiggle the leads at the back”.
It was only then that the importance of those scoreboards will have registered with many supporters. They were left watching the most ordinary of games with no idea of how long before they could go home. Those yellow and green digital clocks which tick very fast when Norwich are losing and need a goal and very slowly when we’re hanging on to a 1-0 lead were conspicuous by their absence.
It made me long for the old Carrow Road scoreboard that used to adorn The Barclay when I first started going in the late 80s. It was a clunky old thing, and always had one or two orange bulbs that were stuck on all the time so a 3 could very easily look like an 8. Each Norwich goal would be greeted by a primitive animation on the main display, a cross between a spectrum computer and the sort of blocky graphics that would result whenever Teletext tried to draw a cartoon.
This is where I get a bit hazy. Some of memory’s own orange bulbs have blown with time, but I am sure I recall one sequence which was meant to be some sort of Space Invaders dancing to celebrate a goal and there might have been one featuring a reindeer heading a ball which was saved up for games over Christmas. If anyone can shed any certainty on that I’d be grateful.
I wonder what did happen to that old scoreboard? Perhaps some Scottish lower league club was able to make use of it, but it’s probably passing its time in a retirement home for outdated technology, wedged between a Sinclair C5, a Betamax player and a Soda Stream.
It’s funny how your mind wanders during a nil-nil.
I left Carrow Road on Saturday wondering about the fate of that faithful old scoreboard and why, for the last three home games, has there been two orange traffic cones roughly on the halfway line in front of the Jarrold Stand? Have some students moved in? If they’re not there for the Everton game in 11 days time you’ll think I’m losing it, but they have definitely been there. I can’t ever remember seeing traffic cones by a pitch during a game before anywhere.
That’s enough wondering for now. Not least because the old laptop has started to make a whirring sound. Where did I put that branch?
• A NERVOUS WAIT FOR WES TO RETURN
With Norwich City goals so few and far between at the moment it would be wrong not to share in the rejoicing at Wes Hoolahan scoring for his country for the first time.
His well-taken effort for Republic of Ireland last Wednesday night clinched a 2-0 win over Poland and, at the age of 30, Wes could finally be about to get the sort of international career Norwich fans have had him entitled to for several years.
Any delight for Hoolahan was not forthcoming from me until I knew he was back in Norfolk. This is the problem with the international fixtures – people sometimes get hurt. With Norwich City’s two most creative sparks, Hoolahan and Robert Snodgrass, away representing their countries last week and Russell Martin alongside Snodgrass in the Scotland squad, I spent much of last Wednesday night like a parent whose child had gone nightclubbing for the first time.
I nervously looked at my watch every couple of minutes and muttered things like “they should be finished by now” in spite of the computer screen telling me both games were still in progress. There were regular checks, not so much of the score, but to see if any substitutions had been made which might suggest injury.
Chris Hughton’s probably the same. The Canaries can ill-afford to lose anyone at such an important time of the season and while having several internationals in a squad is a sign that a club must be doing plenty right, it is not good for fans or managers of a nervous disposition.
As Wes Hoolahan brushed past me after the Fulham game on Saturday I had to stop myself from asking him if it would be possible to give me three rings after the next Ireland game, just so I know he gets home safely.