The £120m play-off match which gave Norwich City fans the priceless day of our dreams

NCFC v Middlesbrough play off at Wembley.
Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

NCFC v Middlesbrough play off at Wembley. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.


So who still thinks the play-offs are a bad idea? Without checking on Wiki, pause now and guess when they were first introduced.

Of the week...

Everyone’s a hero in amazing week

HERO OF THE WEEK: How can I pick a single hero? Answer – I can’t. Alex Neil, the board, the players, the fans – everyone played their part in one of the greatest week’s in Norwich City’s long and proud history. You sense it could have been a moment where something very special kicked off.

Time to finally probe issues within FIFA

VILLAIN OF THE WEEK: For years there have been suspicions about corruption within FIFA. The arrests this week further add to the lack of confidence in football’s world governing body. The FBI investigation has to be ruthlessly thorough and finally get to the root of the problem.

Going crazy with strangers was a joy

HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK: There were so many highlights at Wembley and through the whole day. I loved every single minute of the amazing experience and what stood out were the moments when City fans who had never met before hugged and jumped around together, Mum even got a dance with Bananaman!

What a time for the Tractor Boy to stop!

FUNNIEST MOMENT OF THE WEEK: We were only a couple of minutes into our journey on the Dereham bus on Monday when we stopped at a junction – right in front of a lorry driver with Ipswich flags all over his cab! It was a right shock for him – and hilarious for us!

I’ve got a feeling we’ll start at the Emirates

PREDICTION OF THE WEEK: One date in every City fan’s diary will be June 17 when the Premier League fixtures are released. I have absolutely no insight into who we will start with – but I’ve just got a hunch we’ll kick-off at Arsenal.

Well, believe it or not the annual end of the season “lottery” kicked off in 1987.

Yes I was amazed too.

The play-offs have always divided opinion among fans.

I have been generally in favour of them – and to be honest it was the same even after we lost at Cardiff.

You won’t be surprised to know that after one of the most amazing days in nearly four decades as a City supporter, I’m now convinced they are a fantastic idea!

Opponents will continue to argue that there is an unfairness that potentially a team can finish the regular season in sixth many points behind the side in third and still go up.

Well that’s the system – and at the beginning of every year we all know what we are playing for.

City had the chance to end up in the top two and missed out.

If we had lost to Ipswich or Middlesbrough, we couldn’t have complained at all.

What Monday has confirmed beyond any doubt at all is that the play-offs give us all the chance to enjoy the day of our dreams.

With the Canaries’ record in knockout competitions, the chance of reaching the home of football in the FA Cup or League Cup looks fairly remote.

Yes we would have taken automatic promotion if we had been offered it.

But what an incredible experience it was.

From the moment we got to the bus depot in Dereham to the moment 14 hours later when we pulled back in to the yard, we had a phenomenal day.

Making new yellow and green fans, singing on the coach (including a couple of songs live on Radio Norfolk), waving to thousands of fellow supporters on the way down, lapping up the unreal atmosphere which built up outside the magnificent just got better and better.

It is hard to describe to those who weren’t there what it was like once we entered the arena and for the next three hours – but I will certainly never forget it.

Of course I hope we never get in the play-offs again!

Wembley proves to me that we can survive

I bet we weren’t alone in spending part of our journey back from London on Monday asking the “what now?” questions.

In between some “We are Premier League” chants and a quick doze after an exhausting day, we looked ahead to being back in the top flight.

Clearly with a war chest at his disposal, Alex Neil will go out and bolster his squad.

It will be a tough league and strength in depth will be essential.

However, the way Neil produced such a fantastic tactical masterstroke at the home of football persuaded me that he has what it takes to succeed next term.

We have an England goalkeeper and a very adequate understudy.

Defensively, City have some very able players although the backline has given some cause for concern at times this season.

I’d like to see two quality defenders for each berth.

In the heart of the team, I believe the Canaries are well placed to cope. Tettey will only grow in stature, Jonners will thrive on the battles and around them are talented lads. Tinkering in the department? Yes.

A major overhaul? No.

And to the front line. Jerome and Grabban can cut the mustard. Hooper? We’ll see. And as for RVW? If Neil can make him tick he will really prove himself to be a genius.


Most Read

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Latest from the EDP

Show Job Lists

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 4°C

min temp: 0°C

Listen to the latest weather forecast