Victory at Reebok was huge for Norwich City
I’ve got another one of my quiz questions to start this week (yes, do avoid travelling with me to away games or I could bore you senseless!).
What do boy band East 17, John “Nice Peas Norma” Major and the comedy movie Dumb and Dumber have in common?
And more to the point why am I mentioning such a weird and eclectic trio in a column about Norwich City.
Well, I refer you to the date of December 17, 1994. I was a fresh-faced 24-year-old who was getting used to the idea of becoming a father for a second time (and yes that soon-to-be-born baby is now a fellow River End season ticket holder and much taller than me).
On that day the four-piece male quartet East 17 were top of the charts with Stay Another Day – and were preparing to be Christmas Number One.
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Mr Major was our Prime Minister – and (of course with no link whatsoever), Dumb and Dumber had just been released. (for those who don’t know it was a madcap film featuring Jim Carrey).
When Ashley Ward latched on to a Darren Eadie cross to convert in the 47th minute at Selhurst Park, little could the popular striker or any City fan have realised that it would be the last Norwich City winning goal away from home in the top flight for a very, very long 17 years.
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Just think of all the countless matches on the road since then. All those thousands and thousands of miles which ever-loyal Canaries’ supporters have travelled.
There have been an iPod bulging list of Number Ones, a variety of political leaders and plenty of movies even worse (or better depending on your taste) than Dumb and Dumber.
I can’t stress enough how massive I think the win was at the Reebok on Saturday.
We all recall the struggle during our last campaign in the top flight to get that first win – which eventually came in November.
And of course we never achieved a triumph on our travels – and that was a big part of why we went straight down.
Before Saturday, the doubts seemed to be creeping in and I think that with every game that had passed with City not getting three points, the wobbles would have got stronger, at least among the fans.
Four points from three away games is very respectable, especially as one of those matches was at Stamford Bridge.
It could easily have gone wrong at the weekend and after having had a two goal lead and playing for more than half the game against 10 men, it was crucial to see out the win.
Paul Lambert again showed his strong leadership by picking a starting XI that none of us would have predicted (and if you HONESTLY did guess how the team would be let me know).
On paper Bolton is always going to be one of the tougher away games and the spirit displayed puts us in very good stead.
It was our form at Carrow Road which nearly kept us in the Premier League last time.
It is a cliche to say that every game is going to be massive this term – but it is really true.
With a visit to Old Trafford in nine days’ time, it would take a man with glasses made with yellow and green lenses to expect us to come back to Norfolk with our fourth or sixth away points of the campaign.
So the return of our old mate Steve Bruce and his Black Cats on Monday is a big, big night.
I can’t wait! On The Ball City.
• Hero of the week: John Ruddy gets the gong for me. That save in the dying seconds was crucial on Saturday and ensured we got three points – and that massively vital away win. He has proved so many doubters wrong and I think he is a terrific keeper with great attitude. I just really hope the grumblers will now get off his back. He may make errors this season but I’m sure he will be a rock for us.
• Villain of the week: I normally like old Lawro and he is one of the more gentle of the Match of The Day team. But he wins the boo boys’ gong this week for his reaction to our win at Bolton. Very little congratulation that we were up and running with our first win - all he was bothered about was talking about Howard Webb on how he supposedly was on our side. One Saturday night we will tune in to MOTD and we will be praised. Okay, fat chance.
• Highlight of the week: About 4.50pm on Saturday when I whooped with delight as Chris Goreham yelled out that the final whistle had gone. I was working on Saturday and so wasn’t able to go to the Reebok or see the game on the internet or in one of the pubs which are now routinely screening City’s away games. I relied on the as ever comprehensive Radio Norfolk commentary and was pacing about the office as the final seconds ticked away – and shouted very loudly when we finally secured that victory.
• Funniest moment of the week: Fernando Torres. Need I say more? It gives us all hope that one day we could be worth �50m. Great set of gags doing the rounds about him. Did you know Torres is featuring in a new Mr Man book? Mister Sitter. And he is also helping the BBC iplayer with their promotions – making the unmissable missable.
• Prediction of the week: I’m avoiding penalties or referees and am going to concentrate on Monday’s game against Sunderland. They have been up and down so far and bounced back in style at the weekend to win 4-0. Goals will continue as the theme – and so I’m going for a hatful on Monday and predict a 3-3 draw.