Norwich City do all the shouting for the silent majority
12:03 07 October 2011
City games against Manchester United have always had a special resonance for me because of the events of February 18, 1967.
Having made my first trip to Carrow Road a few weeks previously I had begged my uncle to take me to Old Trafford for the fourth round FA Cup tie against the gods of English football.
No one gave City, then a mid ranking Second Division side, a prayer against a team including the likes of Best, Law and Charlton, but they came home with an epic 2-1 win. Unfortunately, my pleading failed and I had to stay at home waiting impatiently for news of my new heroes.
Nevertheless, I kept up the pressure and was rewarded by being squeezed like a sardine onto the old River End terrace to watch the bubble burst with a home defeat to Sheffield Wednesday in the next round.
In those days a trip to a game was a bit different to today. Walking up the bank at the back of the old River End terrace and descending into a sea of bodies was pretty scary for an 11-year-old.
No nice plastic seat, just the need to make sure that I was standing in front of a crash barrier rather than behind one so as not to be crushed by the regular crowd surges, but by now I was well and truly hooked on the Canaries.
Fast forward 44 years or so and once again I didn’t manage to get to Manchester, so had to watch on Setanta via the internet. Again we were given no chance, yet City played calmly and methodically, as they have all season. Only a couple of bits of quality from United as we tired and some less than clinical City finishing came between us and another great result and certainly the performance enhanced our standing even further.
However, what really amazed me was the fact that my screen was showing me a sea of red shirts in the crowd, yet every song was coming from our fans.
Time and time again “On the Ball, City” and “We’ve come for our scarves” rang around Old Trafford. Even when we were two down our wonderful fans could still be heard taunting their home counterparts about the fact that they were still not singing. Just as at Chelsea, a huge home support seemed totally confused by the concept of singing your heart out for your team regardless of what the score was.
Bill Shankly famously said “Football isn’t a matter of life or death, it’s much more important than that”, and that’s how it’s always been for me, but for the prawn sandwich brigade at United and Chelsea it seems that football has simply become another lifestyle choice, a fashion accessory.
Would many of these people turn out on a wet night in Walsall in the middle of winter to cheer their team on? I suspect not.
Realistically, with so much money concentrated at the top of the British game, they are unlikely to see their team scrapping for their lives anytime soon and I think that may be one factor in their complacency.
Conversely, what we have at Norwich is the joy of seeing success generated by the brilliance of our manager and the commitment of our players, not by obscene amounts of money.
We’ve stared oblivion in the face and lived to tell the tale. We’ve built what we’ve got, not bought it, and I believe that’s why we have the passion that was so clearly lacking in the home ranks on Saturday, and long may it continue.