Ian Clarke: City's shoot-out win capped a fantastic family night

Family at Carrow Road

Eveline Clarke (seated) enjoying a memorable night at Carrow Road with three generations of her family - Credit: Ian Clarke

Who was the happiest person inside Carrow Road at the end of the Canaries' League Cup win over Birmingham on Tuesday night?

Maybe it was Dean Smith who oversaw his first win in a competitive game for four months.

Possibly it was Marcelino Nunez after his outrageous penalty in front of the delirious Barclay faithful.

It could also have been Angus Gunn following two key saves to help City to the next round.

Maybe also throw in Josh Sargent or Liam Gibbs to the mix who had reasons to be cheerful.

But let me suggest someone who I think was more delighted than anyone else - my Mum Eveline!

Jacob Sorensen of Norwich celebrates scoring his sides 2nd goal during the Carabao Cup First Round m

Jacob Sorensen of Norwich celebrates scoring his sides 2nd goal during the Carabao Cup First Round match at Carrow Road, Norwich Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 09/08/2022 Commissioned for use in Archant Norfolk titles only. All other titles fees apply. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

At 87, she's seen most things in NR1.

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From those incredible feats of Bly, Allcock and Co during the amazing 1959 FA Cup run to the ups and downs of many promotions and relegations, she's "been there and done it."

Mum and my late Dad introduced me and my sister Jenny to the Canaries and we went to many games together.

They then took our children to lots of City matches (always with a bag full of tasty treats!)

After my Dad passed away, Mum kept her season ticket for a little while but had to give it up and until Tuesday hadn't been to a live game for a few years.

She's as passionate about the yellow and greens as ever. On match days she follows our colleagues Paddy, Connor and Sam on the Pink Un and listens to Chris, Rob and their summariser on Radio Norfolk.

My nephew Ryan (one of Mum's grandchildren) had the great idea of taking her to the Birmingham cup tie - and making it a family treat by inviting other relatives as a surprise.

Jacob Sorensen of Norwich celebrates scoring his sides 2nd goal during the Carabao Cup First Round m

Jacob Sorensen celebrates scoring Norwich City's second goal in their Carabao Cup tie against Birmingham City. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

So after lots of organising (and plenty of secrecy!) a plan was put in place to ensure four generations would be together.

Mum thought Ryan was taking her on his own and they had prime seats in the front row of the South Stand.

She spoke very excitedly about it in the days leading up to the match and just assumed the rest of us were too busy to go.

Little did she know that she would be joined by three other generations of her family - including her great grandchildren Elsie and Eliza, who had not been to the home of the Canaries before.

Elsie has a special link to City as she was born on the day we beat Middlesborough at Wembley in the play-off final (and Mum heard the news that she was becoming a great grandmother as we were heading back on the coach).

Daniel Sinani of Norwich celebrates scoring his side’s 1st goal during the Carabao Cup First Round m

Norwich City beat Birmingham City on penalties to advance to the next round of the Carabao Cup. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

So you can only imagine the look on Mum's face when the little girls, their mum and dad Lauren and Alex and my sister (I hope you're following our family tree!) and I all walked in on Tuesday!

It got me thinking about how special football can be at bringing family members together.

There were loads of kids there - many experiencing their first matches - and it created real freshness and excitement, especially when the winning penalties went in.

Making the tickets cheap for the cup game was a good idea and it has to continue for all cup matches this season.

It was also lovely to see lots of members of the Community Sports Foundation family as they had the takeover for the evening.

Of course I can't just recount happy memories of a lovely evening without raising the early concerns from the season so far.

One defeat and two draws after 90 minutes so far is hardly filling fans with untold optimism for the season ahead.

Yes, it's very early in the season. Yes, once Sara, Nunez and Hayden are all fit and fully firing, the midfield will look very much better.

But we have to be worried about the sloppy goals still being given away and the inability to learn from them time after time.

There's been lots of talk about the set piece coach. He's certainly got a job on his hands.

There's a big eight days ahead with a trip to Hull and then two games at home to Huddersfield and Millwall.

We need to start getting wins, scoring more goals and cutting out the errors.

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Stay behind Nunez

We've definitely got a player on our hands with Marcelino Nunez.

While there is understandably a fair bit of pessimism from City fans for a whole load of reasons - the Chilean is definitely bringing some much needed excitement to the Fine City.

We know that South Americans tend to have flair in abundance (just think back to a certain Argentine play maker who was here not that long ago).

When Nunez stepped up to take the penalty in the shoot out, I leant over to my niece's husband and said: "He'll do something flash here."

Alex smiled wryly when he had chipped that amazing goal in.

We're going to see some real magic from the new number 26 - and let's soak it up.

But we'll have some moments when things don't go so well. Maybe he'll try it again and the keeper will save it.

The key is we cherish his style and stick with him if things don't always come off.

VAR - my alternative

Every time I see a reply of the foul on Max Aarons which was an absolute stone wall penalty, I get more exasperated.

It was so clear and should have been a spot kick and a red card.

Smith was rightly fuming and I can understand why managers get so frustrated when decisions can make a huge difference in the way seasons can pan out.

The ref had such a clear view of the incident and inexplicably chose not to act.

You will recall that on countless times when we were in the Premier League, I moaned about VAR.

This situation hasn't meant I'm going to say the system should be brought into the Championship.

But there has to be a way of spotting such clear errors.

Why can't the fourth official - or someone else on the sideline - watch the game on a TV and flag up really obvious errors?

We don't want forensic and prolonged reviews of possible offsides. However, such poor officialdom can be corrected quickly.