Why I will never seek divorce from Norwich City
No doubt we have all had those moments following the game when, no matter how obsessed by it, you suddenly feel a bit sick of the sight of it.
Whether this has been caused by your beloved club’s relegation, the sacking of a favourite manager, anger at increased ticket prices or frustration at the ridiculous wages handed out to pampered stars, every football fan’s relationship with the sport is one of highs and lows.
And as far as Norwich City fans are concerned those moments of feeling frustrated and fed up with the game have in recent years possibly outnumbered those of feeling uplifted.
I have known some, though not many, fans who have gone so far as to effectively divorce themselves from the sport and lose interest altogether.
The majority of us stay loyal, though, in the often misguided hope that just around the corner are happier times.
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I have had my own periods of deep disillusionment with the game, some of them often linked directly to the fortunes of the Canaries.
These include as a youngster when the demise of our European team tested everybody’s patience, during periods of the ill-fated Glenn Roeder spell when the first team no longer seemed our own and, of course, upon our drop into the third tier of English football for the first time in nearly 50 years.
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More recently, just a few months ago and in this very column, I told how I was suffering from a case of “World Cup hangover” and for once had not really been looking forward to the new season as much as possible.
I said at the time: “And it’s not just the disappointing World Cup which made me temporarily lethargic about a sport I normally can’t get enough of.
“Towards the end of last season a feeling crept up on me that, at the top level of the national game, football is in danger of reaching saturation point and maybe even starting to turn fans off, rather than on.”
Fortunately, the upturn in fortunes of Norwich City kept many negative feelings away.
And now something else has helped reignite my passion for football at all levels – being starved of it for two weeks.
The saying goes that you don’t know what you have got until it’s gone and that was the case for the past few weeks as a honeymoon in deepest Africa left me divorced from the outside world.
And it was upon catching up with what I missed that it really hit home that we may have much to berate about the nation’s number one sport – but there’s plenty to celebrate as well.
In just a few weeks of the Premier League there were David v Goliath shocks as West Bromwich Albion and Blackpool triumphed over two of the so-called big four, while Bolton almost did the same to Manchester United.
Yes, we all know that come the end of the season the top four is unlikely to contain many shock names – but that apart the league is surely still the most fast-paced and exciting in the world?
In the lower leagues scores such as 7-4, 5-5, 1-4 and 2-4 highlighted just how entertainingly unpredictable this standard of football can be. Meanwhile, the Championship was the same, where scores such as 4-6, 6-1 and 5-0 proved the league deserves its growing reputation as one of the most entertaining in Europe.
And, of course, our very own Norwich City were involved in a classic of their own as we took the advantage in a seven-goal thriller against Leicester City.
If ever there was a game to make me realise what I would be missing if I chose to join the ranks of those who fall permanently out of love with the game then surely this was it.
• FIVE OF THE REST
1. With England Under-21s coming to Norwich last week, it begs the question of how long it will be before our very own Korey Smith below gets the call-up? Fifty-plus games at the age of just 19 is a great achievement and so far this season he has definitely upped his performances and silenced those who feared he may not yet be ready for this level. Let’s hope he’s on Stuart Pearce’s radar.
2. Great to see Wes Hoolahan back in the goals over the past few weeks. To be fair to him, I don’t think his performance levels have dropped that much this season. It is perhaps that his reputation is starting to go before him and opposition teams have been paying him closer attention than previously.
3. One of the most pleasing aspects of the past few games has been just how much Norwich have been dominating teams. Even last season it was a slight concern that at times we weren’t dictating play as much as you would have liked, and this was especially the case in previous unsuccessful seasons. For the Leicester game we had a phenomenal 69 per cent possession – surely a sign of how much confidence the team has at present.
4. Is it perhaps a sign of how things have changed in that we have gone from being a club that all too often relied on young loan signings from bigger teams to one that now farms them out to get much-needed experience? You get the impression that both Tom Adeyemi and Cody McDonald are benefiting from their time away and the chance to play regular first-team football. I wonder how long it is before we see Declan Rudd and Luke Daley sent out for a spell?
5. Forgetting how disgraceful it was that Paulo Sousa was sacked so early on in the season, what a shame it is that the Carrow Road faithful have been denied the opportunity to aim a bit of creative chanting, a la Jimmy Bullard, towards new Leicester boss Sven Goran Eriksson. You certainly wouldn’t bet on him being around if we face them next season.