Terri Westgate: Life as a City fan is threatening to feel normal again
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
2020 has been a year that we will always remember, however much we may wish to forget.
An invisible plague wrecking livelihoods, separating families and loved ones, closing pubs and keeping devoted football supporters from attending their temple of dreams (and occasional nightmares!)
Most of us have experienced tough times this year, be it financially or emotionally, and after nine months of restrictions, we are all feeling a little weary. Now at last the year is coming to a close, and many of us are preparing for a virtual Christmas. We’re missing out on the parties, evenings with friends and family gatherings.
Football has always provided escapism for its fans, a release for the stress of everyday life. But the pandemic has taken that away from us too. Watching Norwich get relegated whilst stuck in lockdown, myself like many furloughed and isolated, I felt oddly removed from it all. Seeing the team struggle to compete without our backing was a tough watch.
This season had a rocky start, but since then the relentless schedule has been matched by Norwich City’s relentless accumulation of points. We have that elusive but invaluable characteristic of being difficult to beat. Luton were able to take advantage when our injury crisis was at its peak, but we bounced back straight away.
We arrived at top scoring Blackburn at the weekend full of confidence, and they proved to be a combative opposition. Yet when their second half assault on our goal resulted in an equaliser, up popped up Pukki to score his 50th goal on his 100th appearance to retake the lead. Hard working, consistent and back to his clinical best, Finland’s reigning male sports personality of the year reminded the Rovers defence and the rest of the Championship that he is still the greatest free transfer in football.
The strength of options we had coming off the bench on Saturday, after weeks of it being stacked with untried academy players, showed not only that the injury situation was improving but also just what great strength in depth our squad has when everyone is fit.
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The other landmark appearance on Saturday was made by the often criminally underrated Alexander Tettey. Before Farke joined the club, it looked like our smiling Norwegian’s time at Carrow Road was coming to an end. But the new head coach was someone who truly appreciated his talents, and the boss is now doing whatever he can to extend Tettey’s shelf life at the club. He again played an important role in keeping the Canaries at the top of the table and set up Pukki for the first goal. He has been part of two promotions with Norwich, will this season be his hat-trick?
Another recent highlight is that after nine months in supporter purgatory, I was one of those lucky enough to attend both the Wednesday and Forest games at Carrow Road last week. Yes, I know how privileged I am. Lucky to be able to afford tickets. To not be shielding or live with someone who is. And to live close enough to be able to walk to the ground.
Being just metres away from my beloved Canaries once more, waving a flag as the team came out, and seeing in person some of my football family for the first time since March brought me pure, unadulterated joy. I was as giddy as a child on Christmas morning.
The gap between the FA Cup penalty glory at Spurs and the recent late comeback against Sheffield Wednesday was filled with so much uncertainty and turmoil. Our worlds were turned upside down, and we learned to live isolated and distanced lives. Yet with the start of the COVID vaccine roll out, a packed stadium may finally be a reality again soon. And it was amazing to be back in a crowd after so much solitude. Although reduced, masked and two seats apart, we could once more sing as one voice. And the team has ensured we have something to sing about.