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Melissa Rudd: Hardcore trance music, strobe lights and a stag do... how I watched City's win at Middlesbrough

The travelling Norwich City supporters celebrate victory at the Riverside. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

The travelling Norwich City supporters celebrate victory at the Riverside. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Paul Chesterton

With results and minute-by-minute updates readily available on mobile phone apps, I'm sure most of us have found ourselves celebrating a Norwich City goal or result in a strange setting.

Onel Hernandez celebrates his goal with Emi Buendia at Middlesbrough. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesOnel Hernandez celebrates his goal with Emi Buendia at Middlesbrough. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Yet there aren’t many occasions I can remember watching a game on television in public where the rest of the audience couldn’t have cared less about the result, or even which two teams were playing.

That was the situation I found myself in on Saturday, when on a weekend trip to Amsterdam I made it my mission to find somewhere showing Middlesbrough versus Norwich City.

Seeking out a sports bar probably isn’t the first priority for most tourists visiting the Dutch capital. But most tourists’ teams won’t be seven games from completing a remarkable feat.

Having finally located somewhere that was showing a Championship offering and not just the Premier League fixture which kicked off at the same time, I settled in for the duration.

There may not have been English commentary, but there were several screens and a whole host of tables.

Except for a stag party that looked like it was still recovering from the night before and a couple of people playing pool, my husband and I were practically the only ones in this place at 6pm.

As the evening wore on, the music grew louder.

Fortunately it drowned out my loud protestations at refereeing decisions during the first half. By the time Onel Hernandez had carved out that acute angle to beat Darren Randolph the lights had dimmed and I could celebrate freely without any of the growing number of revellers paying much attention.

Hardcore trance music and strobe lights had kicked in before Christoph Zimmerman heroically hooked away Stewart Downing’s goal-ward bound header.

By which point, the place was packed, the queue at the bar five deep and my face resembled that of the stag when forced to down another shot as the number ‘6’ appeared on the fourth official’s board to indicate the number of minutes added on.

Luckily there was no room between our table and the screen for the hordes of party goers to block my view as I anxiously bit my fingernails waiting for the referee to signal full-time.

We may have been the only people in that particular establishment who cared, but I could feel the relief of every Canary fan watching when he did so.

If the win at Leeds was proof City were serious title contenders, this triumph on Teesside was evidence it’s ours to throw away.

With Tony Pulis’ promotion-winning experience and a tried and tested recipe for Championship success, Boro were the team I had wrongly tipped to win the league before a ball was kicked.

The fact that Daniel Farke’s free flowing football has prevailed over his tired long-ball tactics, not just in this fixture but over the course of the whole campaign, feels like a triumph for the modern game.

While the home side had former Premier League midfielders John Obi Mikel and Stewart Downing on show, both with their best years very much behind them, Norwich’s side was littered with players whose stars are rising.

They may have the meanest defence in the league, but you can understand why Boro fans have been left so frustrated watching a team whose primary method of attack is launching long throws into the box.

With only two of the remaining seven games against sides currently in the top half, it’s tempting for us fans to think the job is all but done. Luckily Farke and his players have proven they can take the favourites tag in their stride, and facing a team who has just sacked their manager in QPR on Saturday presents another curveball.

You’d have to be a brave punter though to back against them turning seven straight wins into eight.

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