Ian Clarke: Nine reasons why FA Cup run will be good for Norwich CIty
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
So what was your highlight of watching Norwich City live in 2020?
Not many choices are there?
I guess you could go for Jamal Lewis' strike to beat Leicester 10 months ago or possibly one of the moments of magic in the limited number of games when fans were allowed in this season.
For me there's only real option - and that was THAT night in North London way back in March.
Beating Spurs in the thrilling FA Cup penalty shoot out in front of 9000 City fans was truly amazing.
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What made it particularly special was that I watched the game with my son Tom.
As he now lives in London, we don't get many chances to be at games together.
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Over the years we have shared so many great Canary moments - but very few of them have been in the FA Cup.
I was lucky to go through a real purple patch of cup success in my earlier days as a Canary supporter.
There were three consecutive years in the early 80s of reaching the fifth or sixth round and then the semi final in the 1988/9 season (and yes those blow up Canaries!)
Two years later saw a fresh journey to the sixth round, before another last four appearance in 1991/2.
Since Tom has started following City, things have been generally much more of a struggle in the great domestic cup competition.
There have been a few forays to the last 16 but generally it's been a barren period.
And a fact from Saturday's 2-0 victory over Coventry is that it's the first time in nine years that City have won an FA Cup match at Carrow Road (and if you've forgotten it, the match was a 4-1 victory over Burnley - bonus point for remembering that Grant Holt, Bradley Johnson, Andrew Surman and Steve Morison netted the goals).
So, to celebrate that achievement, here are nine reasons why I feel an FA Cup run will be good for the Canaries.
*Success breeds success - I know the old "concentrate on the league argument" and of course bouncing back to the top flight has to be the priority. But winning is a great habit and has to be a positive.
*Good for fans - I know we can't be at the games. However, every reason to be cheerful has to be grabbed. There was loads of enthusiasm over the Coventry win - and the momentum will only build if we can win at Barnsley. And if restrictions can be lifted later in the season, how great it would be to have cup excitement to witness live.
*Alex Tettey - Another fascinating fact from the weekend, is that the midfield maestro has only played five FA Cup games in his long and illustrious City career. THAT turn in the middle of the park got us all purring against Coventry. He could be a key man for more cup occasions this seasons.
*Keeping everyone happy - Saturday's win allowed Daniel Barden to show what a great prospect he is and meant Jordan Hugill could bag his first goal in NR1. An extended cup run will give them a chance and should make Daniel Farke's job easier to keep a big group satisfied.
*Reward for Farke - Talking of our head coach, he is the first Norwich City manager to win four FA Cup ties since Dave Stringer in 1987-1992 (Thanks @NCFCNumbers for the fact). Since he came to City, Farke has shown hunger in the cups and I really want him to be rewarded for it.
*A chance to test ourselves - Don't count any chickens and we may come unstuck at Oakwell - and Luton could spring a surprise over Chelsea. However, if the Premier League giants do head to Carra next month in round five, it will give a good indication of how we could fare if we can bounce back to football's top table.
*Money, money, money - Every round is valuable for the club in terms of prize money and TV income. With the finances being so squeezed as the pandemic continues, it's a boost we could really do with.
*Rekindle memories - I mentioned earlier about those great days of the runs to cup semi finals and all the memories they gave us. Of course things are different this year but the longer we can stay in, the more special moments we'll have to look back on through these tough times.
*Do it for Mum! I mentioned my son Tom earlier in the column and I also want to give a shout out to my Mum. She has supported the Canaries all her life but even when games aren't behind closed doors she can't attend. She loves watching games on the telly, following Paddy and Co on the Pink Un coverage and listening to Chris and Co on the radio - and would be really cheered by a cup run.
Time to talk
Of all the legacies of the pandemic, mental health implications are going to be massive.
So many people are feeling the affects of lockdowns, isolation and being removed from aspects of life which give them joy.
I'm proud this issue is being taken so seriously at our football club.
The Canaries Trust is putting on an online mental health forum on Thursday February 4, 7pm.
Karen Buchanan is host and guests are Gary Dack (City's head of safeguarding), Clive Cook (head of player care), Sarah Webb (Norfolk & Waveney MIND ambassador and mental health champion), David Whiteside (Canaries Trust member and mental health survivor) and Chris Reeve (Talk Norwich City and mental health champion).
For more details visit www.canariestrust.org/mentalhealthforum.
The Norwich City Fans Social Club was due to hold its annual mental health event on January 28 but has rearranged it for March 11.
My Guess Who? XI
In my last column I said that I received the Norwich City version of the Guess Who? game for Christmas and challenged you to pick a manager and best XI from those featured.
Here's a reminder (in order of appearance on the game board) of all the names: Nathan Redmond, Justin Fashanu, Simeon Jackson, Emi Buendia, Jerry Goss, Timm Klose, Iwan Roberts, John Ruddy, Wes Hoolahan, Jonny Howson, Bradley Johnson, Chris Sutton, Mario Vrancic, James Maddison, Tim Krul, Russ Martin, Grant Holt, Max Aarons, Daniel Farke, Christoph Zimmermann, Bryan Gunn, Teemu Pukki, Onel Hernandez, Todd Cantwell.
And as promised here are my choices - and it's not that easy! Let me know if you agree - or not.
Manager: Farke. Keeper: Krul. Defence: Aarons, Martin, Zimmermann, Klose. Midfield: Johnson, Howson, Maddison, Hoolahan, Buendia. Striker: Holt.