Oh, what a night! How Norwich City’s promotion triumph unfolded - through the eyes of a Canaries fan
PUBLISHED: 06:53 28 April 2019 | UPDATED: 09:05 28 April 2019
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Well, what an incredible night in Norwich City history that was.
Anxiety, suspense, the undeniable sense of dread then ultimately sheer elation and exuberance. The range of emotions all Canaries fans would have gone through across the course of that long day is limitless.
Despite the game being played on a traditional Saturday, the 7.30pm kick-off meant that it was the longest of days for City fans.
With everything that was at stake, even having to wait until the traditional 3pm kick-off would have been difficult, but waiting for the evening was torture.
Throughout the city there anticipation could have been cut with a spreading knife - excitement and nerves were in equal measure. We all knew what was required and how good Norwich City have been this season - but as long as there was a slim possibility of it all going wrong, the nerves remained.
Come 5.15pm, having watched all the other scores come through, the next level of torture - as Sheffield United kicked off against - of all teams - Ipswich Town.
From the moment this match kicked off, it became clear we would be given no favours by our woeful East Anglian rival as the Blades easily sliced through Town's frail defence.
By this point, the nerves were probably at around factor 50, as we made our way to the ground for our turn. We were no longer top of the table, so defeat would take our title hopes out of our own hands.
Leading up to kick-off and the mood in Carrow Road was electric. Flags were out, the ground was in good voice and there was a real sense of occasion.
Even close to the very top of the River End - where I sit - the heat from the pitchside pyrotechnics was bracing, as giant flames pumped out in time to the theme from the Greatest Showman. And that is what it felt we were about to experience - the greatest show.
There was such an energy about the place -the occasion felt as big as it was.
The moment the boys walked out onto the pitch and were greeted to the loudest rendition of On The Ball City I can remember you could sense it would be a memorable night.
In a wonderful touch, the usual yellow and green flags were joined by national flags of many of the club's overseas recruits -Emi Buendia's Argentina, Teemu Pukki's Finland, the German flag of so many of the playing and coaching staff - they were all there adding to the sense of community and diversity which has been built at the club over the past few years.
From the first whistle, City were on the front foot with high-octane, attacking play - but the nerves still remained.
Within the first few minutes of the game Onel Hernandez sent a strike whistling past the post which, from where I was sat, looked every bit a certain goal. City were showing all kinds of huff and puff, but would the finishing touch be there?
There was a real sense that if an early goal didn't come it could be a long, frustrating evening. But then it came.
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The roar when Marco Stiepermann drilled the opening goal on around 12 minutes was as loud as any Carrow Road has ever heard. This was going to be our night.
A few moments later the nerves set in again when Teemu Pukki - of all people - received a chance you would have placed your mortgage on him scoring, but it somehow stayed out.
When it was played to the prolific Finn it looked every bit a goal, however a scrambling Jayson Leutwiler somehow kept it out.
But before we even had a chance to catch our breath the fell to Mario Vrancic around 30 yards out, who hit an absolute thunderbolt into the top corner. What a moment.
It was one of those goals where the reaction is somewhere between a roar and a gasp - how did he even do that?
After this point all nerves had been blown to smithereens with one ferocious swing of a Bosnian's boot. It was no longer if, but how many on my mind; I even checked the league table on my phone to compare our goal difference with our now only title contenders Sheffield United.
And then I was reminded which team I was watching. This is Norwich City, after all, nothing is ever easy.
Less than three minutes later and Blackburn pull one back and any sense of exuberance, excitement and complacency is sucked out. What a punch in the stomach.
What follows then is possibly the longest hour and a bit of football I can remember for some time - probably since Wembley.
City create chance after chance after chance to put the game to bed, but the ball just wouldn't go in.
Countless attempts are scrambled off the line, Emi Buendia is denied what would have been an unforgettable overhead kick and corner after corner is hacked away. This is agonising.
When the full time whistle finally arrives, the feeling is indescribable.
Joy, exhilaration, sheer elation, wrapped in a parcel of relief - a weight was now lifted from our respective shoulders. We were there - we were finally there.
Seeing the entire squad - coaching staff and all - piling onto the pitch and embracing one another was a moment none of us City fans will ever forget. You could feel just how much it meant to all of them. And just how much it meant to all of us too.
The image of the group joining hands in front of the Barclay and leading Daniel Farke's trademark chorus of olés is an image that will live long in the memory of the tens of thousands of fans that were there.
Long after the final whistle Carrow Road stayed full - nobody wanting the moment to end.
And when supporters finally did depart, spirits were still through the roof. People were singing, people were dancing, cars were joyfully tooting their horns as they went by.
No doubt the parties continued long into the evening, on a night Norwich City fans will never, ever forget.
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