Chris Lakey: Anyone wondering exactly when Norwich City’s fabulous run actually began?
I have a question. Actually, I have loads, but most for another day.
The relevant one here, though, is: “Where did this Norwich City run of form start?
A quick straw poll the other day brought a variety of responses – some not fit for a family publication but, hey, we employ all sorts and if a blue shirt gets in among us, what can we do?
No, it was a genuine question. Somewhere, something happened.
Some will say the home defeat at Leeds came as a bit of a shock, certainly given that City started the game so well but ended up on the end of a poor-looking scoreline. A wake-up call if you like.
Then there was the derby draw at Ipswich - perhaps not a good barometer given the way the Tractorboys have imploded. Then came a run of four wins in a row - Middlesbrough, Reading and QPR away and then Wigan at home.
Good wins they were too.
The following Wednesday, after Wigan, they drew at Derby in a match they perhaps should have won, and three days later lost to Stoke at home. There’s a case there for building on a negative, but that’s in a few paragraphs time. Now is the time to binge on success...
Nottingham Forest (away), Aston Villa, Brentford, Sheffield Wednesday (away), Millwall and Swansea (away) were all beaten before the midweek goalless draw at Hull.
Six league wins on the bounce - perhaps they were the product, not the instigator, of something that clicked.
So, was it Stoke? That’s where my money is.
City should have won the game but didn’t and they had to take that disappointment into an international break.
That’s a mighty albatross on your backs - mentally you have to work out how to erase it from the memory and then use it to stoke the fires and do better.
And they did - and they have hardly looked back since.
I think the wins over Forest and Villa were big statements: they weren’t what changed things, they were the results that made more people sit up and take notice... even if they should have been aware of City’s surge a little earlier.
So in my humble opinion, the Stoke defeat was the turning point.
Soft underbelly is a phrase I have heard relating to Norwich many times in recent times. Post-Stoke, they haven’t been tickled and rolled over.
I am, of course, prepared to stand corrected on all of this - there are cases for many other games and there may be some major league dissenters in the corridors of power at Carrow Road.
Sporting director Stuart Webber and head coach Daniel Farke may say all the above conjecture is irrelevant, and they may be right. The contention would probably be that City’s journey began the day they walked into the door, the result of long days and nights spent plotting a philosophy, a course of action, a way to run the football club on and off the pitch – a million things they have to deal with.
And they’d more than likely be right. Fans deal in the here and now – I tend to think they look a little further ahead.
My hat is well and truly taken off in admiration for a pair of local footballers managers.
Adam Mason and Martyn Sinclair have enough on their plates trying to keep Great Yarmouth Town in the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division.
It is a struggle this season, but amid all the hard work, the pair of them went to extraordinary lengths on the way to last week’s game at Stowmarket.
Instead of hopping on the team coach, Adam and Martyn walked. Fifty miles.
They left the Wellesley at 8am on Friday night and arrived at Stowmarket’s Greens Meadow around 1.30pm the following day.
It was all in a good cause, of course, with the pair expecting to have around £4,000 for the mental health charity Mind.
Donations are still being accepted – visit their JustGiving page at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/walk-to-an-away-game – I have done because they’re just damned good blokes.