Germanic football love-in under Norwich City's Daniel Farke highlights just how welcoming Norfolk is
PUBLISHED: 20:48 24 January 2019 | UPDATED: 20:54 24 January 2019
¬©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222
Nick Conrad love seeing Norwich City fans praising their adopted German manager - a warm reminder that Norfolk has a fine history of welcoming anyone who wishes to contribute to our county
As the Norwich City manager approaches the Barclay Stand the noise from the crowd builds in anticipation. The climax is three hearty olés, each in perfect unison with Daniel Farke’s clenched fist punching the air! Blaring out of the tannoy, Blur’s super-hit Park Life hailing ‘all the Germans’ and retitled ‘Farke Life.’ This Germanic love-in is utterly, adorably positive!
I get irritated when we Norfolkians are stereotyped as being hostile to outsiders, especially foreigners. True, we don’t tend to gush, and some might appear to lack the instant warmth of other counties’ folk, but Norfolk affection is subtle and enduring. For the past two weeks a German reporter, Gregor Schinttker has been in Norfolk writing a newspaper piece about our country’s newest Teutophiles. He’s heard about the Farke revolution and travelled to Britain, commissioned to write a piece about our deep affection for our gaffer.
Herr Schinttker need not look any further than the league table. Our easy-on-the-eye football is why fans are gleefully munching on Bratwursts whilst clinking beer glasses and shouting ‘Prost!’ A handful of City pubs are embracing (or cashing in on) this Germanic sentiment with the ale and sausage combo. But honestly, this warm continental sentiment isn’t new. Even last year, when our Canaries wings looked a little clipped, many of us embraced the side show. This very welcome continental ‘invasion’ has improved our team, with fans now purring over our innovative and progressive club management. But this warmth towards outside influence isn’t new.
Norfolk has a very proud tradition of twinning and friendship associations and generally being interested in people from other countries. On nine occasions I’ve undertaken twinning exchanges with German families. My grandmother was instrumental in the Norwich and Heilbronn union as well as Sheringham and Otterndorf twinning association. She first felt motivated to travel to war ravaged Germany in 1946, working as an au pair. Throughout her life she demonstrated that dialogue, friendship and cultural understanding would form lasting bonds of unity. The mutual warmth was terrifically heartening. Lifelong continental friendships formed, many of which have transcended down generations.
So, this current Germanic ‘appreciation’ has deep roots, which is all the more special when you consider our history. It really does demonstrate that there is so much to be said for encouraging people to work, inhabit and enrich each other’s communities. I love the way that football fans, often cast as small minded, adopt a special relationship with the countries their idols hail from. Money collected by UK based supporters’ groups has built schools, hospitals and nurseries in third world countries. It’s inspired generous donations to help fight causes from the removal of landmines to fighting Ebola. It has ignited an interest in countries all over the world which many go on to visit as tourists.
It helps that Daniel sounds like the kind of chap you like to have over for Sunday lunch. In the media he’s at pains to highlight his gratitude towards our club’s supporters. Frankly, I wouldn’t care if a Martian was in charge of the team, as long as we are winning. Of course, the jobs should always be given to the best candidate for the role regardless of nationality.
That said, I think it is brilliant that we celebrate and demonstrate our interest in Daniel’s German roots, continuing the long-held tradition of welcoming everyone into Norfolk who wishes to contribute to our county.