Chris Goreham: Millwall debacle made it hard for me to keep my inner fan hidden
PUBLISHED: 11:00 29 August 2017
©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222
Being paid to cover the football team you support is a huge privilege.
It’s something I will never lose sight of even after watching my beloved Canaries being mauled by those hungry Millwall Lions at the weekend.
The job comes with plenty of responsibility. It is inevitable that some of the raw feeling of what it’s like to be a pure Norwich City supporter has been percolated out of my system in the 12 years that I have been commentating on their every move.
I am fortunate enough not to have to pay out for tickets, travel and food to go to places like Millwall or Aston Villa and watch my team concede four sloppy goals.
This softens the blow but it does mean I will always have respect for those who do choose to make those trips more in hope than expectation.
Being on live radio also has a sobering effect. The requirement to find the right words to tell an accurate story, whether it’s good or bad and regardless of my own personal opinions, means that the emotional damage done by defeats can’t really show until after the microphones are unplugged. It’s usually somewhere on a dark motorway at about 7pm on a Saturday night that the knot of disappointment every supporter has in their stomach after a defeat really starts to tighten.
Covering Norwich City, with its passionate fan base, means being the man in the middle.
We have to gauge and reflect the mood among supporters and with things like the Canary Call phone-in, social media and the ability to interview fans before and after games this well of opinion has never been more accessible.
With every spleen that gets vented from the stands comes the responsibility to put questions to the club.
Whether it’s a head coach, sporting director or board member we also exist to give those who wield the power to select the team, sign players and hire and fire managers an opportunity to put their point of view across.
The answers may not always be popular but it’s our job to see the never ending soap opera that is Norwich City from as many sides as possible in order to be able to explain and contextualise not just the frustration of fans but also the reasons that big decisions are taken.
Whatever reservations there were about the amount of change and the lack of Championship experience brought into Norwich City Football Club over the summer it has been important to try to keep what we have been told is a long-term project in perspective.
I had anticipated that this new-look Norwich might take time to settle but to watch them struggle to carry out the very basics of defending against Millwall was hugely alarming.
Things like marking players properly at corners, trying to tackle wingers before they run into the penalty area and having the wherewithal to read and cope with an old fashioned long ball ought to be the bare minimum, no matter how many new players are in the squad.
Defeats happen, all supporters are sensible enough to know that, but when they do so in the Millwall manner it’s hard to keep the reactionary old fan in me hidden.
There are times when even the most objective observer has to feel for supporters who have seen away capitulations like this all too often, particularly after the new regime at Carrow Road was greeted with such warmth, new songs and specially designed t-shirts and stickers created by the supporters who had been asked to buy in to the changes.
All of the people mentioned in this column have one thing in common; we all want Norwich City to succeed but if lessons are not learnt quickly it could be a grim winter’s tale that we are having to tell this year.
A Lion’s Den
Daniel Farke cut a forlorn figure as he trudged up the stairs at Millwall on Saturday to face the obligatory post-match press conference.
Speaking to the media, and so addressing the fans, comes with the territory but with the scars of a defeat like that still so fresh it must be the last thing that any manager or head coach wants to do.
As he took a long swig of water from a plastic bottle on the table and contemplated the first “So Daniel, what went wrong?” questions I couldn’t help but wonder what his phone calls home have been like during his first couple of months in England.
During this rather bleak post-mortem of a press conference there was an elephant in the room. Well, it was a lion actually.
Farke was forced to talk in detail about the match while sat next to a huge cuddly lion. This stuffed tribute to Millwall’s nickname stands at about three and a half feet tall and smiles out at the reporters as they do their best to come up with a tactful way of asking a defeated manager the questions that must be answered.
Farke shouldn’t take it personally. The same lion has seen many managers come and go. It was certainly in place for Norwich City’s last visit to The New Den when the boot was on the other foot and they had run out 4-1 winners. On that occasion Millwall’s Ian Holloway was forced to rub shoulders with Big Simba just a day or two before being sacked by the club.
After he’s told ‘The Farkes’ back in Germany about the bizarre furry friend he made at Millwall, the City head coach will probably be recounting tales of how we do cup draws over here.
I can almost hear him saying in the soft voice that doesn’t quite fit with his rugged appearance, “sometimes you don’t know if you are home or away and then they do the next one at 4.15 in the morning.”
It might be difficult to get any more German coaches over here if we keep confusing them with our strange English ways.