Premier League survival the biggest prize of them all for Norwich City
On the morning of Sunday, August 9, 2009, what was in effect an obituary was penned at Archant Towers – for a second time, if that's possible.
The first version had followed Norwich City's relegation to League One just a few weeks earlier. On the second occasion I was sure I'd got it right. This was the end: the embarrassing 7-1 home defeat by Colchester brought down a black shroud around Carrow Road that would be impossible to lift.
In normal circumstances.
What actually happened was that it set off a chain of events that have been staggering, to say the least. Promotion from the depths of despair, another promotion from the hopes of mere survival. And now this – another year in the Premier League wrapped up well before the lap of appreciation.
City's first promotion, via the top of League One, was followed by an open-topped bus parade around Norwich during which the champions' trophy was lifted aloft for all to see. To be honest, it didn't sit comfortably seeing City celebrate something they shouldn't have even been challenging for in the first place. Writing my thoughts produced some unwarranted comments, including one from on high at Carrow Road, with the accusation of arrogance on my part. No, not arrogance; opinion which, no matter if you agree or not, should be respected.
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Promotion from the Championship warranted another parade. Whether such events are linked directly to the winning of trophies I don't know, but City did indeed get something for the cabinet – albeit rather smaller and less imposing than many. Nonetheless, a place in the top flight was achieved.
Fast forward to today, and City will be playing in the Premier League next season. It won't win them any trophies, but it sure as hell deserves an open-topped bus parade.
- 1 'An insult to the city': Couple ditch 'hellhole' hotel after 45 minutes
- 2 Road cleared after overturned lorry on A47/A11 Thickthorn roundabout
- 3 Hundreds give amazing send-off to well-loved supermarket worker
- 4 Former Norwich boxing champion banned from contacting ex-partner
- 5 Man arrested on suspicion of murder after woman found dead in flat
- 6 New Lidl stores to open in Norfolk and Waveney in £1.3bn expansion
- 7 Travellers camped at garden centre car park
- 8 Historic railway platform building could be demolished in station revamp
- 9 Air ambulance called to person's aid in Dereham
- 10 GP warns surgery 'is at breaking point' due to village expansion
As far as I am aware, there are no plans to drive slowly around the already jam-packed streets of the Fine City, defying the already mind-boggling 'planning' of those responsible for our highways and byways.
Shame, because this is probably the biggest achievement of them all. Momentous as the previous two campaigns have been, surviving among teams who can spend the same amount on a player as your club was valued just a few short years ago is even more so. If I can go off on a tangent, remember those dark days of the summer of 2008, when Peter Cullum tried to buy the club? City valued it at �36m – saying they would sell for �56m because they would demand Cullum put in �20m for player investment.
Norwich City Football Club is worth a lot more today, but to put that, and their own spending power in 2011-2012 into perspective, Fernando Torres cost �50m, Andy Carroll �35m and Sergio Aguero �38m. I'm guessing if you wanted them up front in a 4-3-3 you'd have to sell Carrow Road, all the players, the land, the training ground and probably a few supporters too. I'm jesting, but you get my drift.
When a squad that cost a few million to assemble runs out against some of world football's most established and richest clubs, you expect David & Goliath in reality, not the story we were fed as children where the little guy wins. But David – in the form of Norwich City – has struck a few blows between the eyes of the big, bad foe.
City have won friends all season, bar a few games which, inevitably haven't lived up to expectation.
Only Manchester City and Manchester United have doubled City this season – and even when six goals from the men in light blue flew past John Ruddy, it was only because Norwich ran out of steam after a superb 70 minutes. But that's all part of the learning curve – and learning curve which never ends.
What is absolutely without doubt is that season 2011-2012 should go down in history as one of City's finest ever. I might even have my own little parade in my Vauxhall in quiet recognition of the feat.
• SOMEONE HAS LOST CONTROL OF THE BOXING RING
Frank Warren has stirred up a massive can of worms with his decision to promote a boxing match between Dereck Chisora and David Haye.
The British Boxing Board of Control has threatened to withdraw licences of those on the undercard and vowed that anyone involved in the show will suffer the same fate. Managers, seconds, cornermen beware.
Does it also mean that any media organisation showing footage of the fight will be black-listed, and Upton Park taken off their list of possible venues for other shows?
In a rather pompous-sounding statement, the BBBoC said: 'Any member of the BBBoC who participates in any way in a promotion such as that referred to above would thereby evince an intention not to be bound by the constitution of the BBBoC and would act in a manner wholly incompatible therewith.
'In such circumstances the BBBoC would accept that member's repudiation of the constitution as terminating his/her membership of the BBBoC and his/her licence.'
It occurs that if the BBBoC has the power to do all of the above, why on earth they have managed to allow the fight to be staged in this country in the first place. I do believe the word Control in their name is over-used here. They don't have control of what the promoter wants to do. They don't like it, they can't stop it.
The fight has been sanctioned by the Luxembourg Boxing Federation, which begs the question: how has the Luxembourg Boxing Federation been allowed to do something its boxing brethren are so against?
Frankly, it seems British boxing is being made a laughing stock.
The fight itself? If it goes ahead it will be sold out. And then, when Haye blames a dodgy toenail for another dull performance and Chisora puts in another no-show, everyone will ask what all the fuss was about. Hopefully then it will fade away, and the only thing we will have to remember the whole sorry episode for was the disgraceful sight of two sportsmen being divided by a huge metal fence – because they can't control themselves.
Pathetic. Just pathetic.
• A TOWERING ACHIEVEMENT
I hate the play-offs with a passion: the fact it is exciting for supporters is irrelevant when compared to how unfair it is to disregard a league system that has been used for the previous eight months simply for the sake of a commercial freak-show. But, hey, I'm not bitter.
I've seen a couple and they were good days out, that's all. However, I reckon if Ian Holloway's Blackpool get through the Championship play-off final against West Ham, it will be a magnificent achievement. To be promoted in the first place in the 2009-10 season was excellent. Relegation followed a year later but clearly the Tangerines have just licked their wounds and got on with the job. The only problem I have is that a colleague is a West Ham fan, and if they don't win...
• NON, MONSIEUR
Arsene Wenger is a strange chap; his slap-handshake with Paul Lambert at the end of City's 3-3 draw at the Emirates was disrespectful. Sir Alex Ferguson and Kenny Dalglish were more than happy to share a warm greeting and acknowledgement pre- and post-match with Lambert – as have many others. Why not Wenger? Instead, he tried to find fault with everything but his own team. He belittled Norwich City by his actions. Wenger is a great manager. Perhaps not as great a man as I first thought.
• FOP OR FLOP?
I see Exeter City have given Alan Gow a new contract. Hope he was more verbose for their lcoal media than when we interviewed once (and once only) during his time at Carrow Road. One word answers were the order of the day as he adopted some sort of pop star image. Not bad for a man who didn't manage to score a goal for Norwich City but acted like he was the dog's bits.