Poor old Steven Whittaker is the latest to be singled out for stick at Norwich City

Steven Whittaker of Norwich and Toumani Diagouraga of Brentford in action during the Sky Bet Champio

Steven Whittaker of Norwich and Toumani Diagouraga of Brentford in action during the Sky Bet Championship match at Carrow Road, NorwichPicture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 64026724/01/2015 - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

The Carrow Road crowd is never backwards in coming forwards.

Greg James interviews a Norwich fan for Radio 1. Photo by Sophia France.

Greg James interviews a Norwich fan for Radio 1. Photo by Sophia France. - Credit: Archant

As a collective, Norwich City fans are not the strong silent type and a hysterical emotional outburst is always more likely than a quiet simmer or sulk in the corner. The referee's whistle at half-time always activates the invisible thermometer which takes the temperature of the home fans. The formula is usually quite straightforward. If Norwich are winning they get cheered off, if they're losing they get booed off and if it's a draw it depends whether the Canaries have scored or conceded the most recent equaliser. On Saturday however, City were laughed off at half-time. I'd never heard that before.

It wasn't really a comment on the Canaries' performance, more a review of the farcical end to the half which was engineered by referee Nigel Miller. With stoppage time almost up, Brentford's Toumani Diagouraga was stricken by injury and needed some treatment. There was about a two-minute wait while magic sponges, potions and sprays were applied to the ailing midfielder. As he had a lay down the rest of the players were left to wander awkwardly around the pitch like grazing cattle.

Diagouraga got up and the game restarted with a drop ball. For all of two seconds. As soon as the ball made contact with the grass Mr Miller blew his half-time whistle rendering the previous couple of minutes as a complete waste of time for the other 26,000 of us in the ground who were not getting a reviving rub down from the Brentford physio.

If the referee is planning to take his hilarious half-time whistle act to the Edinburgh Fringe next summer, I would advise him to think again. While it may have got off to a promising start with the demanding Norfolk audience, the rest of the afternoon was rather short on laughs.


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Norwich never got going against Brentford and deserved the defeat. Poor old Steven Whittaker took more than his fair share of the Carrow Road clog.

His departure to be replaced by substitute Lewis Grabban was greeted with heckles from some sections of the crowd. Whittaker's performance as a stand-in central midfielder was treated with all the empathy offered to a stumbling first time stand-up trying his luck with an open mic spot in front of a baying crowd of hen and stag parties.

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Whittaker is the player in the Barclay Stand barrel at the moment. There always seems to be one who cops it more than most for a season or two.

Mark Rivers, Gary Doherty and, for a time last season, Robert Snodgrass are all previous dwellers of the Norwich naughty step in the eyes of some sections of the crowd.

Earlier this season I heard one member of the local press talk about a distinct 'Anti-Whittaker League' within the Carrow Road faithful. They made it sound like an 80s band that might have been invited to play several sessions for John Peel.

It's nothing new and it doesn't just happen at Carrow Road. Once ticket money has changed hands there's an expectation that it comes with the right to vent as much spleen as feels necessary in the direction of anyone who might be taking a few pence worth of the entrance fee.

That's the entertainment business for you.

There's not a successful footballer, comedian or rock star out there who couldn't tell a few harrowing stories about the criticism which saw them grow a few extra layers of thick skin.

Had they existed, The Anti-Whittaker League wouldn't have achieved any success without going through the rite of passage that would have been having all sorts of things thrown at them whilst on stage during their first appearance at Glastonbury.

Swift rebuff leaves me to dig out gems

The announcement that Radio 1 is bringing its Big Weekend festival to Norwich later this year has prompted a lot of excitement from those who've always dreamt of the day that American singing sensation Taylor Swift might come to Earlham Park.

Last week's news brought some of radio's brightest young things into the BBC Radio Norfolk office. Presenter Greg James' burgeoning career included a spell answering the phones on our Canary Call programme while he was studying at the University of East Anglia and he returned to the city to mark the occasion. Having seen him get to where he's got I sensed the opportunity for my own big break and spent the day trying to look cool by wearing a hat, shades and big headphones indoors all day but I found myself cruelly ignored by the hipsters once again.

I ended up being left all alone with the copious research notes I have to do to keep on top of things for commentary purposes. Some of the gems I have up my dull but fashionable sleeve include that Wes Hoolahan has now gone two years without scoring a goal at Carrow Road and that Nathan Redmond's first three Norwich City goals have been scored under three different managers.

It is useless trivia like that Radio 1 is missing out on. It may also explain why James found the extra motivation to climb up the radio food chain with such eagerness.

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