Is Saturday’s game the most important meeting between Norwich City and Sunderland? Two of our writers go head-to-head
- Credit: Archant
Norwich meet Sunderland on Saturday in a relegation scrap which will have a huge impact on the Canaries bid to survive in the Premier League. But is it the biggest ever meeting between the two sides? Yes, says our head of sport Chris Lakey, while columnist and Norwich City fan Steve Downes takes the opposite view.
•Steve Downes: 'For me it's about glory days, not money moments'
When I'm old, boring my grandchildren with tales of watching Norwich City, what will be my highlights?
Beating Bayern at the Olympic Stadium; cruising past Middlesbrough at Wembley; Steve Bruce's late header against Ipswich and the Milk Cup final in 1985.
I doubt that I'll dedicate much time to eulogising about how we beat Sunderland near the end of the 2015-16 season and got closer to staying in the Premier League.
For me, it about glory days, not money moments.
Too often today, the size of a football match is measured in money terms. The money is important, of course: It makes the ball go round. And if City stay up, it will guarantee loads more money.
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But it won't produce the FA Cup, League Cup or the Premier League title. And that's the rub. For fans' appetites are (or ought to be) fed by finals and trophies, not cash.
When Norwich walked out to face Sunderland at Wembley in 1985, it was a one-off opportunity to win a major honour. And it remains the only one that we have won in more than 110 years (I'm not counting our League Cup win over Rochdale).
When the Canaries take to the field against Sunderland on Saturday, it will be a chance to win a match that might get them closer to staying in the Premier League. No guarantee, no winner-takes-all.
Lose and we are not down: win and we are not safe.
Saturday's match is a staging post, while the 1985 Milk Cup final was the destination.
Norwich have gone up and down the divisions on numerous occasions in their history, but only ever won one major trophy. So how on earth can Norwich v Sunderland on April 16 2016 be bigger than Norwich v Sunderland on March 24 1985? Such a claim is typical Premier League-era hyperbole, mutating the myth that the Premier League is everything, when it's not – it's something, sometimes.
To borrow the word so over-used by TV pundits, Saturday's match is 'massive'. But the Milk Cup final was bigger than massive – it was mahoosive and super-massive.
•Chris Lakey: 'It's about the winning, not the glory'
Thirty one years ago, when my much-respected colleague was but a mere lad, Norwich City won the Milk Cup, beating Sunderland at Wembley.
This weekend, the same two teams come together for a match that could decide their immediate future – with one staying in the Premier League and the other dropping out.
The cup remains the lesser of the main two domestic competitions but nonetheless an achievement to win - and no doubt even more satisfying in 1985 to beat Ipswich in the semi-finals.
Perhaps just as satisfying as it was a year ago to beat the old rivals in the Championship play-off semis which earned another trip to Wembley, this time to face Middlesbrough in a game that earned the Canaries a place in the top flight.
So what was bigger – the 1985 final or last year's play-off final? One earned a trophy, the other earned a place in the Premier League.
This weekend, we take the debate one step further: it's Sunderland again. Survival could depend on the outcome.
So what's bigger: the Milk Cup final win or a win this weekend?
Would you have swapped a place in this year's final for your place in the Premier League?
Yes, many of us believe the game is slowly eating itself given the huge amounts of money swilling around, but would you swap immediate well-being of your club for a big day out and a trophy in the club cabinet?
Almost seven years ago Norwich City almost went bust. Want to risk it again?
Yes, it's all about the winning and the glory, and we all know what terrific enjoyment we have had following City in recent Championship seasons. But the whole point of every game is to go out and win. Therefore, you want to win the division you are in. Therefore, if you are in the Premier League your main target is to try and win it. Fanciful? Ask Leicester.
It's about the winning, not the glory. Thirty eight games, not one.
•What do you think? You can leave your comments below