Ian Clarke: Norwich City 2018/19 – a story of the Beauty and the Beast
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Does this season seem like a fairy tale? It certainly does to me.
Maybe it could be Zimm-derella (the enchanting story of the unknown German lower league stopper who is transformed into a talismanic hero to lead his new club to the promised land).
Or perhaps Pukki In Boots (the freebie frontman written off before heading towards a record goal tally in the promotion charge).
Then there's Farke and The Beanstalk (the tale of the loveable German who planted some seeds which took time to take root before growing and blooming and going sky high).
However, the fairy tale I think is closer than ever to telling the story of the incredible Norwich City adventure from August 2018 to April 2019 is Beauty and The Beast (Or Bew-ty and The Beast if you want the Norfolk version).
I've said it many times as have countless other City fans - the football we have been treated to this term has been as beautiful as any we can remember for many a long year.
In every game there's a new 'wow' moment.
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There's a flick or trick or goal that we are desperately trying to find footage of to share on social media.
As we analyse matches with our fellow supporters and work colleagues, there are countless 'what about that one..?' instances.
What is so amazing about the moments of beauty is that so many players are joining in the party.
Emi Buendia is leading the way. The pint-sized wizard is taking brilliance to new levels.
He is far from alone in dazzling.
Onel 'Argos and 2p machine' Hernandez is winning more fans every day with his trickery as well as his retail and amusement arcade exploits.
Teemu Pukki is going through (for his high standards) a little goal drought but still showing scintillating glimpses during City's journey to the top flight.
I could go on.
Beauty is also encapsulated in the togetherness on and off the pitch around Carra.
There can't be many clubs at which seasoned international pros - such as Grant Hanley, Timm Klose, Michael McGovern and Jordan Rhodes - as well as young starlets like Todd Cantwell are all sharing in the joy of this incredible run despite being out of the starting line-up.
Love it, love it, love it.
So that's the beauty - what about the beast? Well let me point you in the direction of THAT clearance from Christoph Zimmermann at The Riverside on Saturday.
If you want to pick out a season-defining moment of commitment, endeavour and leading by example that was it.
It's ridiculous to think that he was considering quitting football to take up teaching (although I bet he'd be a legend in front of a class!)
He personifies a beast of a defender. A man mountain who has taken on the responsibility of captaincy magnificently.
His rise and rise is mirrored by that of Ben Godfrey, another of the City players for whom resilience must be their middle name.
I watched Godfrey at a free kick we were defending at Boro.
He roared no nonsense instructions at his teammates to ensure they were doing their jobs in the backline. His hunger and desire are matched by his colossal performances.
You can get a certain way up the league - especially in the rough and tumble of the Championship - by winning with beautiful football.
What has underpinned Farke's men storming to the summit has been winning ugly when it's been needed.
The lads have shown that beastliness to get over the line.
And yet, incredibly, despite that ability to fight, we're the only Championship side without a league red card.
So with seven games to go, we need a mix of the beauty and the beast.
To quote the head coach, the players need fire in their hearts and ice in their heads. Us fans have a massive part to play.
There will still be ups and downs to come I'm sure during those tussles with QPR, Reading, Wigan, Sheffield Wednesday, Stoke, Blackburn and Villa.
The yellow and green army must be loud and proud, patient at times and unrelenting in their backing.
Don't get on Timm Krul's back when he sticks to the game plan of building from the back.
Don't groan when a pass goes astray or let the atmosphere go flat.
Let's take the togetherness up a notch and see the boys over the line.
I'm sure we'll have nightmares of slipping up but keep the faith and dream that the fairy tale really does come true.
• GET ME TO THE PROMOTION ON TIME!
I've got a little favour to ask of Mr Farke and his magnificent men.
Please, please secure promotion before Saturday, April 27.
That will be one of the proudest days of my life as I walk my elder daughter Emily down the aisle to be married to her fiance Rob.
Organising the wedding date was very tricky and there was very little thought when it was set that the Blackburn game at Carrow Road could be so significant.
The ceremony is in Lincoln at 11am. Before you think about it, no I won't be hot footing down the A17 straight afterwards if we still need points to go up!
However, I'm confident the job will be done already (I'm going for Good Friday or Easter Monday to seal it) and we'll be able to relax and celebrate in style.
I also need to point out that there will be several Ipswich fans at the wedding....and even they will admit that they are certain to be planning their League One trips well before then.
• SUCH A BRILLIANT CULTURE
My companion while writing this column has been the latest Talk Norwich City podcast in which Jack and Chris Reeve were joined by the Canaries' chaplain Jon Norman.
I'm a great fan of the show and the lads attract terrific guests with fascinating insights into our club,
I've had the pleasure of knowing Jon for many years. We enjoyed some great tussles during Dereham Baptist Church v Mount Zion matches in the Norfolk Christian League in days gone by (he has aged so much better than me and while he is preparing to run seven marathons in seven days, I huff and puff around a morning jog with Scruffy our terrier!)
Jon spoke brilliantly on the pod about his role at Carrow Road.
It was enlightening to hear about the culture which Messrs Webber and Farke have created.
We all know there will be tough times if we go up to the Premier League - but with the tiers of support in place, we are so well equipped to cope.