Spud Thornhill: Whatever happens, I have a new 2.30pm routine for following Canaries

Carrow Road will reopen to 1,000 fans for the game against Preston. Picture: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Carrow Road will reopen to 1,000 fans for the game against Preston. Picture: BRITTANY WOODMAN - Credit: Archant

Football returns to Carrow Road on Saturday for the first home game of the season, with 1,000 fans fortunate to be the chosen ones to attend after the EFL selected it as one of their pilot games.

At the time of writing I don’t know if I will one of those lucky souls.

If I’m not, it’ll just have to be one of the next three. Whatever happens, I may have that depressing feeling come 2.30pm.

Usually, at the first game back after a few months away, I would be leaving the pub following my pre-match pint, walking towards Carrow Road, wearing the new replica shirt among a beautiful sea of yellow-bedecked fellow supporters, glancing up as the sun shines down and seeing the floodlights towering above the Barclay Stand.

I’d walk into the stands, among so many family and friends and 25,000 Canaries, ready to sing On The Ball, City for the first time in three months, waiting for that moment when we hold our breath as the ball hits the back of the net.

Michael McGovern congratulates striker Adam Idah on his winner at Huddersfield last weekend Picture:

Michael McGovern congratulates striker Adam Idah on his winner at Huddersfield last weekend Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

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So many hopes and dreams for the next nine months and what they will bring.

We have had many enjoyable opening games back at Carrow Road, from a classic 4-3 game against Southampton in 1986 to last year’s opener when Teemu Pukki scored a hat-trick in our 3-1 win over Newcastle United. Seeing the sun shining down with a packed crowd made them games even more memorable.

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This is just another of my favourite times of the year I enjoy while following our beloved football club... although I’d like to forget some of our disastrous opening games.

Sadly, on Saturday, if I’m not at Carrow Road at 2.30pm, then I will be setting up my TV to watch it on iFollow. It’s not ideal, but we should be glad we are slowly seeing the return of fans to games.

Hopefully, it will be a success on the pitch and in the stands and by the next home game, against Derby County, more fans will be allowed back in the stands.

Many people have said for years that football is nothing without fans, and we have since discovered this is so true. Some supporters around the country seem to think we lack passionate support. I may be biased but I don’t think we lack passion in our support, especially in colour and noise.

So with many of our fans not being able to do our bit, who’s going to be the 12th man?

The club will probably do exactly what they did last season with all the flags. But what else can they do?

Maybe we could have massive speakers like we had towards the end of 1994/95 season for our last two home games, against Liverpool and Aston Villa. The club said they were there to help generate the noise from the Barclay as they were situated in the corner of the ground, where the hotel now is. The noise from the Barclay would go through the speaker too so the sounds of On The Ball City could ring out louder and spur us on to victory.

What they were really were used for was to drown out any of the vocal protests against then chairman Robert Chase.

So it may fall to the players to be 12th men. Reportedly it was the subs’ bench last Saturday who were shouting and screaming and kicking every ball.

Encouragement amongst our players will be massive whilst we are down on the crowds. Daniel Farke stated what a massive part goalkeeper Michael McGovern played in our Championship campaign two seasons ago with his support to every single player.

Last week McGovern was praised again on how he especially helped Adam Idah during the build-up to our win, during the game and at the final whistle. Whilst we are not there, we will be relying on players like McGovern, Alex Tettey and others to take the supporting roles instead of us.

Maybe we could leave a placard for the subs with the words of On The Ball, City.

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