Here comes the sun - and the ‘Norwich City replica shirt window’

We must be hitting the business end of the season. The presence of thousands of bright yellow replica shirts basking in the Barclay Stand sunshine during the draw with Wigan on Sunday was a sure sign that it won't be long before the big issues are being decided.

For all the cash that loyal supporters splash out to dress like their footballing heroes there are actually only two windows of opportunity when these shirts can realistically be worn within sight of the pitch. If they're lucky, football's fashionistas get a few sunny weeks at the start of the season and another flourish from around now until the players are doing their end of season lap of the pitch, waving to the fans.

For the rest of the year these precious garments are buried under big coats and several other layers, protected from the harsh realities of a football winter.

In recent seasons, the second 'Replica Shirt Window' as I think it should be called, has barely been noticed at Carrow Road because Norwich fans have had bigger fish to fry. The pressing concerns of winning promotion or seeing off relegation have had us still biting our nails at this time of the year since about 2007.

I'm not suggesting that Premier League survival is absolutely wrapped up by Norwich just yet. A 14-point cushion from the bottom three with 10 games to go ought to be enough but, like everyone else, I'll wait until Carol Vorderman has declared she can't come up with a sum that would see us relegated before I'll actually say it.

The prospect of mid-table respectability is an attractive one and it'll do wonders for Carrow Road's collective heart rate after five years of constant stress about a potential up or a down. It means we can take an objective look at those who are still losing sleep about their end-of-season prospects and decide who we want to win what.

From a purely selfish point of view I wouldn't mind seeing Wigan go down. They played well at Carrow Road on Sunday, but it doesn't change the fact that the DW Stadium is miles away and anything that eases the burden on the already strained BBC Radio Norfolk car which we thrash up and down England's motorway network between August and May is not to be sniffed at.

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I have also gone off Wigan's usually likeable manager Roberto Martinez. I hadn't quite comprehended what a challenge the affable Spaniard had set for us commentators until I found myself having to talk about their midfield duo James McArthur and James McCarthy on Sunday. Both were signed from Hamilton and the pair insisted on passing to each other on a regular basis. Even at the end of the game I hadn't quite worked out which one was which. I could do without that Premier League tongue twister next season. Especially as Norwich City manager Paul Lambert has so far had the good grace not to field Ryan Bennett, Elliott Bennett and Leon Barnett all at the same time.

It's bound to happen at some point, but I suppose I should be grateful that I have only got that to worry about and not the usual spring time Canary fever which is a battle for league status.


The mouldy old debate about whether football should introduce goal line technology is raging once more.

Clint Hill's header for QPR against Bolton on Saturday which wasn't given as a goal has provided the perfect excuse for the well-rehearsed arguments to be trotted out once more.

It seems appropriate that the question of whether to use television evidence to help decide whether a goal should be awarded has now in itself been replayed more often than that clip of Del Boy falling through the bar on Only Fools and Horses.

It does seem odd that those bastions of tradition that are Test cricket and Wimbledon have been way ahead of football in realising that the ability to watch events on a screen so soon after they have happened in real life can actually help to make the correct decisions and isn't a form of witchcraft.

I am always amazed by just how quickly these replays can be produced. There was an incident in the recent cup tie against Leicester at Carrow Road which would have been talked about just as much as Clint Hill's effort had it not been for the fact that Leicester won the match anyway. Norwich defender Elliott Ward cleared a shot 'off the line' and no goal was awarded. Within seconds we had access to a replay which suggested the clearance probably wasn't so much 'off the line' as 'back over the other side of the line before anyone noticed'.

If it was down to me to be in charge of the replays there would be a big delay while I worked out which cushion the remote control had fallen behind, then pressed fast forward instead of rewind before having to confess to the referee that I had accidentally taped Neighbours rather than the game.

It is difficult to understand why television technology isn't used for good. After all we are quite happy for TV companies to move the kick-off time for a home match against Wigan and call it 'Super Sunday' so why not let them help a bit too?

This is one occasion where even a dyed in the wool radio man like me has to concede that television has the edge.

There isn't much of a cry for radio technology to be used at Premier League games.

My suggestion that next time we get a close call at Carrow Road the referee would be welcome to listen back to the BBC Radio Norfolk commentary to see whether it sounded like a goal has so far received a lukewarm response from the football authorities.