Canaries’ fans must play their part and cheer our boys to glory
08:00 25 May 2015
Although it’s 30 years since I last watched Norwich City at Wembley the day itself will forever be etched upon my mind.
I’d already been fortunate enough to see numerous games at Wembley, including two European Cup finals involving the likes of Cruyff, Best and Eusebio but all of that paled into insignificance compared to the sheer visceral thrill of watching my team, the team that I had followed since childhood, play and win on that world famous stage.
The scramble for a parking place near the stadium that didn’t require a second mortgage, the walk up Wembley Way, the incredible friendliness of the Sunderland fans, both before and after the game, are all still as vivid to me as if it was yesterday, as is the feeling of walking away with a victory. I want to have that feeling again today.
Middlesbrough are an excellent team with an outstanding coach and deserve a great deal of respect, but they are far from invincible. Nevertheless, partly thanks to two wins against City, one during the horrible autumn run and the other thanks to an early own goal and a stoic defensive performance at Carrow Road to derail City’s automatic promotion surge, they seem to have developed a certain aura.
However, while no one can argue about their defensive strength, which saw them concede fewer goals than anyone else in the Championship, City found the net 20 times more than they did over the season. There is no doubt that when they get their noses in front they can be hard to break down, but they are not the best equipped team in the Championship for chasing a game, and an opening goal for City could be pivotal.
Much depends on their two main strikers, Jelle Vossen and Patrick Bamford, as their midfielders are not particularly prolific, with a total of 14 goals (excluding penalties) from the regular starting four compared to 29 from their City counterparts.
As those who saw the match at Carrow Road and the play-off semi-finals against Brentford will know, much also depends on today’s referee.
Along with great passing football Aitor Karanka has imported the casual cynicism and occasional thuggery of La Liga as well as a propensity for play-acting that would go down well at RADA.
At Norwich Boro players consistently went to ground and stayed there to break up the game and in the first leg at Brentford their response to being outplayed by the hosts in the early exchanges was to put in as many heavy challenges as they could get away with, picking up six yellow cards in the process.
I’m sure that City fans will be delighted to see the experienced Mike Dean in the middle and hopefully he will take a firm line from the outset.
Let’s have a real game of football, not a re-run of the farcical scenes at Carrow Road.
When all’s said and done, though, it will come down to which team performs on the day. Obviously I am backing City to win, not least because of their excellent form away from Carrow Road, but I suspect that it will be a very tight game with small margins making the difference, and that’s where we, the fans, can play our part.
Today is a day of destiny so let’s sing until our lungs are bursting and cheer like we don’t need a voice for the next week. This is a defining day for our club. Players, manager, directors and fans are all in this together. For 90 minutes, and maybe more, nothing else matters other than everyone doing whatever they can to see City over the line.
Together we can make it happen, because we are Norwich City.
One City strong.