Norwich City’s anthem survives vote of no confidence

Thursday night means Question Time on BBC 1 and while Dimbleby and his political hard-hitters were doing their pre-match warm-up last week, there was a version of the show going on at Carrow Road. Paul Lambert, Norwich City's chief executive David McNally and chairman Alan Bowkett faced around 150 people in one of the lounges at the ground to answer whatever was on the supporters' minds.

I found myself playing the role of host, which basically meant politely picking out audience members' distinguishing features so that everyone knew who was asking the next question.

'The man in the new home shirt,' was one which springs to mind. Dimbleby would have been proud.

I have known these forums to be the sort of occasions where tin-hats should have been handed out at the door, but with the club faring so well in the Premier League this was never going to be a particularly stormy evening and it was living up to expectations until just before the end when I pointed out one supporter (a lady in a cream coloured jumper, if memory serves).

'Why do we have to keep singing On the Ball City? It's a bit of a dirge if we're honest isn't it?'


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There were gasps in the room. I momentarily considered smashing the glass on a nearby fire alarm and forcing an evacuation which would surely bring the evening to an early close, but we had said any subject was fair game and so I had no choice but to tough it out.

Paul Lambert then admitted he didn't know the words and I was worried that OTBC could really be on the way out.

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It wasn't long before someone pointed out that, as it was the oldest football song in the world, it deserved to still be heard and Lambert added that the song, along with the supporters distinctive bright yellow shirts, was all part of what made ours such a unique bunch of fans.

On the Ball City's place at the top of the Carrow Road charts was reclaimed when the same cream-jumper-wearing lady who had doubted its value conceded that she heartily joins in and sings it at the top of her voice every week, even though she doesn't particularly like it.

• SWEETS APLENTY, BUT THE ONLY CLARET BELONGED TO AL

When a group of football reporters get together one subject usually dominates the conversation.

It's not the identity of the next England manager, it's not about the pros and cons of playing a diamond midfield or even unprintable gossip about a player's private life. What those who cover football really like to talk about is food or, more precisely, the catering in press rooms up and down the country.

Have you ever seen that programme on Sky Sports on a Sunday morning which features four or five of Fleet Street's finest football writers sitting around a pretend breakfast table chatting about the big issues of the day?

Viewers of that show are lulled into a false world where these people have earnest discussions about tactics and formations. I would wager that as soon as they go to an ad-break and are safely separated from the bleary eyes of the Sunday morning television audience they start comparing notes on what the pies were like at whichever ground they'd been to the previous day. When the adverts finish we are duped into believing we've dropped back just in time to hear them discuss England's chances at the next major tournament when their heads (and stomachs) are actually full of chicken balti and steak and kidney.

These discussions about Press Room food have to be carried out in secret because, if we're honest, we know we're very lucky to get anything at all. Belly-aching about the quality of the sandwiches at Selhurst Park when you're doing what is many people's dream job doesn't wash in a world where fans are paying �40 for a match ticket. This talk about what clubs feed the attending reporters can only be safely carried out in hushed tones and when we are sure that no-one who actually has to pay to go to football matches is in the room.

I've decided to risk the wrath of my always hungry colleagues and breach the unwritten code of the football reporter by revealing part of the half-time menu at Villa Park on Saturday.

This is a decision I have not taken lightly and by committing the following revelation to print I am blowing any chance of ever getting invited to sit at that Sky Sports Sunday morning breakfast table. But I am afraid I just cannot contain myself. Here it comes: in the Press Room at Aston Villa last Saturday they had pick and mix sweets we could help ourselves to at half-time.

One of the reasons I have decided to blow the whistle on sweetie-gate is sheer bitterness. I was forced to shun the pick and mix. It was with a heavy heart that I had to admit a mouthful of gobstoppers and cola bottles would not be conducive to doing live commentary on the radio.

I did consider, momentarily, filling my pockets for later, but there was a steward nearby who might have been carrying out a bit of covert surveillance for just that sort of ungentlemanly conduct around the sherbet lemons.

I was a bit scared of the stewards at Villa. They had been issued with blazers in Aston Villa colours and there's something about the security business which seems to attract men who don't have much in the way of hair. With their claret jackets and bald heads it was like they had employed an army of Al Murray the Pub Landlords to keep an eye on us all.

I had hoped that one of the Als might act when BBC Radio Five Live's Pat Murphy ended his full-time match report with a terrible Delia Smith-based line about Norwich's performance being a bit like a souffl� which hadn't risen properly.

If ever there was a pun worthy of having 'Murphy, you're barred!' shouted at you by the pub landlord, that was it.

Don't be cross with Pat Murphy for still doing recipe jokes about Norwich City a full 14 years after Delia joined the Carrow Road board. Remember, he can't help it, he's a football reporter – so is obsessed with food.

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