Lee Payne: A free Saturday at home... but was it well spent for this Norwich City fan?
PUBLISHED: 14:56 02 September 2019 | UPDATED: 17:12 02 September 2019
As I start to write this column, it’s 11.30 on Saturday morning.
Usually at this time I would be at work, but this week I am on holiday. This summer I've been playing village cricket but today's last game of the season has been called off due to a lack of players. This series of events has left me with a free Saturday at home - so I thought I'd see what following football is like for the average armchair fan these days.
Norwich City are away at West Ham. I know a couple of people who are lucky enough to have tickets. I went on a tour of the London Stadium back in April and I have to say it is a fantastic place, and a venue West Ham have worked very hard to make their home.
There's something about modern football grounds that 'traditionalists' get snotty about but the London Stadium is great and I wish I could be there supporting City today.
When Norwich are outside the top flight and the national media don't seem bothered about us, The Pink Un website is the place to go. This is where I instinctively go for yellow and green flavoured news when I can't face the vitriol and stupidity that poisons Twitter.
I've written before about how it was important to hold on to the optimism and positivity of last season for as long as possible, but it seems this morning that it is already start to crack after a week in which City were knocked out of the League Cup by a side three divisions below them and most of the club's central defenders could pass as extras in an episode of Casualty.
The Premier League's official website offers a brighter tone - Teemu Pukki could become only the third player to score in each of their first four appearances in the competition. The piece mentions he is 'the early frontrunner for this season's Cadbury Golden Boot', and while that may draw a snigger, it's worth celebrating a Norwich player being the top scorer in the Premier League at any stage.
On the TV in the background is BT Sport's build up to their lunchtime fixture, which this week is Southampton v Manchester United.
While 3pm kick-offs on a Saturday are still subject to a nationwide 'blackout', there are televised games at 12.30pm and 5.30pm today - along with following the City game, there are around seven hours of solid football to indulge in today.
Southampton and Manchester United draw 1-1, and I switch over to Soccer Saturday with Jeff Stelling. When you think about it, it's a bizarre programme. You can't see any of the action yourself, you just get to watch some ex-pros watching it on a screen and describing what they can see. But it's strangely riveting.
My mother has shown me the video of Soccer Saturday's coverage of last season's Boxing Day fixture between Norwich and Nottingham Forest - when Norwich came from 3-0 down to rescue a point - at least ten times.
As the clock ticks closer to 3pm, the panel's discussion of the Canaries is the last item on the agenda. The tone is negative. They can't see how we can hope to survive if we continue to concede goals at our current rate.
As Norwich kick off in East London, Soccer Saturday gets muted and I listen to the radio commentary of Chris Goreham and Leon Barnett.
It doesn't go well (on the pitch that is) and I hastily switch off before the festival of moaning that is Canary Call begins.
The day ends with Liverpool brushing Burnley aside. I've watched two live games and listened to another on the radio. It's been quite a Saturday.
Just as we're getting used to our Saturdays being filled with football once more, next weekend is the dreaded international break.
Norwich will probably welcome it this time, though.
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