Carrow Hill, boiled sweets and a face-to-face with a Norwich City star

PUBLISHED: 08:36 18 December 2015 | UPDATED: 08:36 18 December 2015

Andy Townsend in the yellow and green of the Canaries. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

Andy Townsend in the yellow and green of the Canaries. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY


Do you remember the first time? For me the love affair began on Valentine’s Day. How apt.

Fab Four

City and United share problems

1: Our weekend opponents Manchester United have been heavily criticised this season for over-passing the ball, too much sideways play and not being quick enough to get in their opponents’ faces when they lose possession. Unfortunately they are characteristics that also apply to some of Norwich City’s play of late.

Red Devils are not to be feared

2: Too often this season the Canaries have been the perfect team to play when in the midst of a bad run and with that in mind there has been lots of talk on social media that it’s almost a foregone conclusion United and then Spurs will beat us in the next two games. It isn’t. The current Red Devils are there for the taking – just look at how poor their line-up was on Saturday. 
I hope Alex Neil decides to go for the jugular.

Dieu, Dieu, Dieu, where are you?

3: What’s happened to Dieumerci Mbokani? After two goals in his first few appearances he now appears to find himself behind both Cameron Jerome and Lewis Grabban in the pecking order, despite appearing to do little wrong. As Everton’s defence stuttered on Saturday it seemed the perfect opportunity to bring him on for the last 15 minutes to try and disrupt them further with his physical bursts.

Bennett deserved more of a chance

4: It felt like a harsh decision to drop Ryan Bennett on Saturday, given that in the weeks he’s been in the back four there has generally been an improvement. I’m a big fan of Russell Martin, but I’m afraid the only thing we gained from his performance was further proof he’s a Premier League right-back but Championship centre-half. I’d like to see Bennett given a proper run now, even if the necessary defensive reinforcements arrive in January.

February 14, 1987 to be precise – the very first time I made my way to Carrow Road to watch my now beloved Norwich City.

There’s not much I remember about the day itself; in fact there’s a strong possibility those memories that remain are in fact snippets from matches attended over the seasons which followed.

I remember the long walk from the soon-to-be traditional parking spot on City Road, my Dad by my side, probably muttering after being made to shell out for a bag of sweets from the shop on the corner. It always had to be rhubarb and custard.

The long stroll down Carrow Hill, the descent of which must have seemed akin to Everest to this wide-eyed eight-year-old. Lord knows how those little legs made it back up.

That wonderful moment when Carrow Road first comes into view. It still gives me a tremor of excitement now.

If you are lucky and the wind is right you might catch a few choruses of On The Ball, City as the Barclay loosens its throat.

Lurking at the back of my mind is an autograph from midfielder Andy Townsend, though granted this may have been another game.

My friends and I shouted his name from the back of the old South Stand and were stunned when he smiled, waved and then actually came over to see us and place his name in my yellow and green autograph book.

He, Ruel Fox and Mike Walker remained the prize signatories in that book for years to come and I’ve always been more forgiving of his questionable punditry skills because of that moment.

Prior to the match one of the Royals, Princess Anne I believe, was introduced to the crowd. It seemed normal at the time. Perhaps, I wondered, it happened every week?

I soon learned it doesn’t, even though The Queen is of course a Canary at heart.

The game itself was a run-of-the-mill 1-1 draw against Manchester City. The match must have been forgettable, because forget it is exactly what I did. Perhaps someone out there knows who scored my very first Canaries goal?

But it clearly made enough of an impression to forge a passion for the club, which almost 29 years later shows no sign of fading.

Of course there are ups and downs and bumps in the road. Moments where you begin to wonder if it’s worth all of the time, money and effort. But even if you don’t attend every game, witness every kick, or experience every moment of joy and anguish, the song is right, we are City Til We Die.

And at Saturday’s game against Everton the first tentative steps were made to recruit another lifelong member to the Yellow Army, as my son attended his very first game.

Whether he’ll look back so fondly on the day in the years to come I doubt very much. He’s three years old and most of his attention was fixated on the many crisps, biscuits and toys which appeared from the seemingly bottomless bag designed to keep the boredom at bay.

We had at least prepped him in the first two lines of our famous anthem and how to shout ‘score a goal’ so he didn’t look too out of place amongst the Barclay masses. We’ll save some of the more colourful chants for a year or two at least.

Of course, he might not even grow up to like Norwich City or even football, which will be totally fine by me as long as he’s fit, healthy and happy.

And if that is the case it will still have been worth the experience of taking him to a game – even if that’s just because it’s the ideal way to be reminded of why you keep on coming back for more.

Wishing all our readers a Happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year. Let’s hope Santa brings a win or two...

UPDATE: Thank you to Andrew Barnes who sent me this...

“On that day the Duchess of Kent opened the new city stand. Ian Crook scored from a free-kick and Robert Rosario and Mick McCarthy were booked after a flare up. Hope this helps the memory.”

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