This post is part one of four. Two for the Saturday of our trip and two for the Sunday, from TWO perspectives. Did Lingering Bursitis and I see the same games, have the same fun?
Well we are back from an epic weekend. We took in 2 matches and drank enough bitter to float a battle ship in. In fact, its taken me until today to recover enough to write this. My body was so bloated by beautiful meat products such as chicken balti, steak and mushroom pies and scotch eggs, that I couldn't reach the keyboard with my arms until now. But never fear, I'm back in shape and ready to detail my trip to Norwich and day out at Wembley with Lingering Bursitis, Relegation Zone Mikey, Kopper, Lumberjack and his man-slave 'The Turk'.
My liver is out of the washing machine and my memory has returned. Lets go...
Saturday 28th Feb 2009
My day started rather differently than the rest of the boys. While they nursed hang-overs from an evening that Lingering will describe in detail in his blog, yours truly had a nice relaxing evening with my folks. Followed by the sleep of a thousand sleepy sleepers. Just what the doctor ordered ahead of a day in Norwich to be followed by a bumper evening of fun. I headed to Norwich with my dad while the others had the pleasure of being driven from London in a coach that Lumberjack had hired. What transpired on THAT journey nearly lead Kopper's brain to explode, but again, that's one for Lingering to tell as I heard it second hand.
I checked into the hotel at the greatest ground on earth at noon. The Holiday Inn Carrow Road is situated between the Barclay stand and the Jarrold. It offers some lucky buggers a view of the glorious pitch as they awake from their slumbers. Not me however. My morning view was the tire shop across the street. Anyway, I digress. The lads were late, but I was already in the bar with a pint in hand.
But while the boys and their 'genius' of a driver wound their way down narrow c roads to Norwich from Ip..Ip..Ip..That place, I was having pre-game beers with Ex Norwich midfielder Mike Milligan and my mate (Norwich Academy coach) John Revell.
The lads finally arrived and after they had bitched about their driver, we all made our way to the Gunn club, which is housed in the Barclay stand. After a couple of beers, the NY Canary members of the crew (myself and Kopper) were asked questions (in front of the Gunn clubs audience) by Norwich legend Jeremy Goss. Kopper was asked how a yank could become a Norwich fan and I explained how the NY Canaries came to be. I'm sure we ruined lunch for many folks and for that I appologize now.
Kopper and Jeremy Goss.
The mention of the great Gossy gives me the perfect excuse to share this....
Get in Gossy! Now those are two, truly super strikes!
After our turn on the mic, the queen of Carrow Road herself came to find us. For those of you who have never heard of Delia Smith, I will briefly explain. Delia is England's Martha Stewart but just for cooking. Best selling books and TV shows have made her a household name. A lifelong City fan, Delia and her husband are majority shareholders of Norwich City.
Kopper tells Delia where she can get a good steak in NYC.
To say I was excited to meet the great lady is an understatement. Kopper and I presented her with an NY Canaries t-shirt, and Kopper suggested some restaurants she might enjoy in New York. Glad he spoke up, I'd probably have sent her to Hooters.
Now those of you who DO remember Delia and read this site will no doubt remember a certain incident that was played to death by the media. A certain incident from a certain Premiership game and a half-time plea for noise. I won't be sharing that video. But for those in the dark, this was a sketch that aired on soccer am that I found amusing, based on 'that' incident.
"Canary, canary, canary". Hilarious.
Right, back to business, where were we? Ahh the game itself. Hmmm, well, after meeting Delia AND Captain Canary (see below). Norwich took to the field in a crucial home game with Coventry. Not a great game at all, as like much of this season we failed to take the chances we created. Jordan Hendersen gave Coventry the lead on 19 minutes when he arrived at the far stick to hit home a cross from former Norwich player David Bell. Carrow Road was nervy and quiet. I've never known it to be so, well, morbid in atmosphere. Rattling chains would not have sounded 'out of place'. It was as if we have already accepted relegation. The half-time pie hit the spot but I wasn't happy. 3,500 miles to watch Carl Cort 'not bother' to try to win headers was depressing.
Kopper with Captain Canary. That's Kopper on the right if you were wondering.
A first half corner comes to nothing.
The second half started much better. Otsemobor created a chance for Cureton, but the luckless striker missed a sitter with the goal gaping from 6 yards (and has since been dropped). Cureton is a confidence player, when he is on form he is great but when he stinks? Well, boy does he stink. The effort is always there with him but he misses open goals and simple tap ins.
The good spell continued and following a corner and a scramble in the box, Grounds hit the ball through a crowd of players and equalized on 53 mins. Carrow Road erupted and finally the crowd perked up. Soon after Norwich were denied a blatant penalty when Cort's marker jumped with him and handled the ball as it looked set to arrive at the big mans head. Cort was much better in the second half, his movement was good and he challenged for the ball. One can only think that Bryan Gunn had a word in his ear over a half-time cup of tea.
On 71 minutes the game was decided and we were all dealt a kick in the nuts as we watched a super player score a super goal. But not for us. Daniel Fox turned Carl Cort 3 times from just inside the box on the right and then picked his spot with a left footed shot into the top corner. It was frustrating to see no one move to help Cort as Fox took his sweet time. What was even more frustrating was to see our captain Mark Fotheringham slowly walk back to the box casual as can be, watching this event unfold 6 yards away in front of him. With effort like that we don't stand a chance of staying up. Fotheringham was replaced soon after and stormed off down the tunnel. He hasn't played since. Nor will he again I hope! Russell and Pattison are far more committed and better players in my opinion. Fotheringham has never really wanted to be here and only signed a one year deal, which screams of the desire needed to be made captain right? Glenn Roeder thought so. Fotheringham also talks a great game in the press. Always the first to scream a war cry in papers and the last to close someone down.
Fotheringham. Talks a good game.
Chris Coleman's Coventry looked very balanced and he is building a nice team there. Daniel Fox is superb and 19 year old Aron Gunnarsson didn't stop running all day. He is a star of the future for sure. He looked like he was going to create a chance every time he touched the ball.
After 4 mins of stoppage time the final whistle blew. The boos echoed around the ground and we all sulked, shrugged, shook heads on the way back to the Gunn club. I didn't see enough commitment and desire to stay up to be honest. Since our trip, City won at QPR but lost on Saturday in a crucial 6 pointer to Blackpool.
Staying up will be a mammoth task now. But one that is only achievable with wholesale changes to the starting line up. We have nothing to lose at this point. Our relegation rivals have hit form and some of our players look as if they have thrown in the towel. I would like to see Cody McDonald, David Carney and maybe a couple of the youth kids get a run out. Players who will be here next season and have something to fight for.
STOP THE BLOG EQUIVALENT TO THE PRINTING PRESS! (buzzer)
I scribbled that last paragraph YESTERDAY. The glass was half empty. But today? The glass is half full. Last night Norwich beat Cardiff 2-0! Cue the woo girls and the marching band. Cue the flag waving midgets. Cue the clinking of beer glasses throughout the canary kingdom. We are Alive....ALIVE I say.
Not only did we win but results have gone our way elsewhere in the contadiction that is the current Colaship. We now face what could be our biggest game in 50 years this weekend as Plymouth (4 points ahead) visit Carrow Road. I will pray every day from now until Saturday. Oh please lord, I will believe if you just let us win this one game. Ever said that as a kid?
I will also invoke the magical powers of the 1973 canaries! It worked yesterday. No really! I had to leave the office and my trusty BBC Norfolk audio feed just before half-time. Armed with a platoon of instant messaging buddies and the humble refresh feature on my blackberry browser, I finished the game in a frenzy of communication.
On the train I decided that maybe listening to the Wembley 73 song "The Canaries" may help me 'will' a victory. It was working, we scored. 5 times in a row the song played, the trumpets of the cheesy football number blasting in my ears as I stared, glued to the BBC results page. Shoot, the results started to go against us. But wait..The song had stopped again and I had forgotten to start it up. Back on it went, along with the repeat feature. The results started to go our way. The instant messages brought news of Derby equalizers and a goal from former Norwich loanee Martin Taylor at Barnsley. A Swansea winner. And then it happened...We scored again!
I have vowed that this weekend, that song will be be playing continuously as we take on Plymouth. Want to hear the magical number? The song that holds the power of survival and victory? You know you do...
It's the song what done it.
Of course, the result had nothing to do with outstanding debut performances from McDonald, Mooney and a blinder from Alan Gow! Incidentally, McDonald was working as a scaffolder on the London Underground just a few weeks ago. Gunn had decided to freshen things up with some new faces, hungry players. Players who hadn't quit yet. Like Cody McDonald, Mooney had never played at this level either. Both Mooney and McDonald took their goals like they had been playing at Championship level for years. No fear, just confidence. Get In!
I will now return you to a Saturday in Norwich.
Back in the Gunn club, man of the match Gary Doherty looked like a rabbit in the headlights as he had to answer some tough questions about City's performance and spend 30 mins shaking hands and smiling for pictures when I am sure he would have rather been banging his head against a wall somewhere else. Like a disappointed child I asked him to keep us up, as if the man known as 'Ginger Pele' holds the keys to 21st place.
The lads with Gary Doherty, John Revell and Dick Mills.
After a few more beers and some tears in those beers, I had a chat with former manager Dave Stringer to see what he thought of the game and of the current situation at Carrow Road. After that I really needed a drink! It was back to the hotel for a quick change of clothes and then out for a curry.
The day and evening was arranged by my mate John Revell. The Rev is a top bloke, Norwich academy coach and a real character. He parties with the best of them and has no idea of his age, except for that he thinks he is about 21. Now that's the way to be! Top man. Talking of being 21. John Jr WAS 21 on this very day. He is the tall lad on the left in the black shirt. Oh to be 21 again....
The Rev, his boys and their mates.
There were 40 of us at Spice land in Norwich for a ruby, and I thought this was the ideal time to settle a little bit of UF business. A while back Lingering had made (and lost) a bet with 'The Fans Attic'. Now, if you read this site a lot (or a little) you will know that Lingering Bursitis has a deep, deep hatred for David Beckham. It's completely unnatural and unexplainable. Ask "What did David do to you Lingering?" and he will reply "he lives". Bizarre and weird I know. I mean...Who could possibly hate David Beckham? It's like harbouring a dislike for small kittens or Bruce Forsythe. Just weird. Anyway, the bet was lost and the punishment must be issued! Lingering would have to wear a Beckham shirt in a public place causing a damaging amount of embarrassment and a hefty blow to his self esteem and his anti-Beckham rhetoric.
Well, little did Lingering know, but a Beckham shirt was with me and Saturday night in Norwich, in front of a full restaurant was the perfect time. After a brief explanation and a round of applause, out it popped. BBC commentator, ex-Norwich player and top bloke Neil Adams presented the shirt to Lingering as he turned the color of a his favorite Liverpool Jersey. After the horror of the moment subsided, he bowed his head, slipped it on and took his medicine. Fair play to the lad, it stayed on all through dinner.
Lingering B stands at the top of the table as everyone has a good giggle at his distressed mug.
LB starts to lighten up and see the funny side.
As dinner came to a close, Neil Adam's cell phone rang, except it wasn't for him. He passed the phone to me and said "it's Gunny for you". Gunny for me? I said? Wowzer...I'd met Gunny on a few occasions but that's one bloke who meets more people a week than the toilets at Penn station, surely he didn't remember?
He did you know, what a fantastic surprise. Bryan Gunn had called to acknowledge that we had flown 3500 miles to see us lose and to have a quick chat. He told me he was doing the best he could to keep us up and they were all working very hard to do so. How about that? This wouldn't happen at any other football club. I don't remember hearing about Rafa calling Lingering, or Relegation Zone Mikey getting a ring from 'Arry after the Cup final. Wonder if Precious Roy ever got a call from Wenger?
"Hallo Roy, if youz writez one more ting about Eboue, yooo ant me are done!"
Norwich Manager Bryan Gunn: I added the phone headset for this realistic 'Crime watch' style reconstruction of the phone call.
This kind of effort is what sets Norwich City football club and it's people well above any other club. Bryan Gunn had bothered to make my night after a disappointing result when I am sure he had plenty on his mind and better things to do. Top man.
Well. After the Curry we all hit the local night spots for beer, shots, lots of chat and more shots. And If you think I'm telling you all about that you can think again!
'Norwichomon' part two will be Lingering B's account of the day in Norwich and parts 3 and 4 will be all about the Carling Cup final. Watch out for those shortly.