Spud Thornhill: Delighted to get back into his 'happy place'

Emi Buendia Nottingham Forest

Carrow Road under the lights and Emi Buendia scores the winner - truly a happy place - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

After 277 days, or nine months, one week and four days, I finally made the walk down Thorpe Road to Carrow Road for the first time since the game against Leicester City last February.

As Jordan North of I’m Celebrity fame, would understand, it's ‘my happy place’. 

There was no sun shining down, and no summer shorts as I would normally wear for the first game of the season. It was a very cold December night so it was a winter's coat and my Norwich City scarf keeping out the cold on City's ninth home game of the season.  

As I walked the final hill down Carrow Road towards the ground, I glanced up towards the floodlights and could see the cold mist hanging in the air - one of life’s beautiful sights for your average football fan who enjoys evening games.  

There wasn’t the usual numbers walking beside me, no away fans to chat to. 

Fans for Nottingham Forest game

Drinking in the atmosphere at Carrow Road - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Instead of turning right towards my normal entrance in the City stand, I carried on walking straight towards the South Stand. Expecting long queues, I was pleasantly surprised about how well everything was organised. The whole process was well organised and straightforward. Within two minutes of joining the queue I was in the South Stand and back in what I call my other home.  

Back in 1982, I attended my first Norwich City game ,with my dad and brothers, when we lost 2-1 to Manchester City on the opening day of the season. I don’t remember much of the game but I do remember walking up the steps and entering the stand for the first time.

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It's something very special for a seven-year-old boy attending his first game, that special warm feeling that has always stayed with me. 

As I walked up the steps to go in the stand on Wednesday, that special warm feeling was with me again. I had the buzz and butterflies in my stomach as I reached the top of the steps. Memories of how I felt in 1982 came flooding back.  

I looked across the stadium to where I normally sit knowing it will be a long time before I’m there again. In the mean time I’m just glad to be watching my team in the flesh again. 

I’ve watched every game on iFollow or on TV. It always felt weird watching the games, especially the home ones. Under the circumstances I knew it was as good as it could be, but you can’t beat the real thing.  

It was great to see the regular faces at the ground that I’ve got to know throughout the years. I know many people have decided not to come, some with safety concerns others who don’t want to go whilst there is such a small crowd.  

I totally understand both reasons. Hopefully those concerns will slowly fade but I can’t see this happening this season. 

I sat in my seat for the night on my own, which is something I have not done at a Norwich home game for a very, very long time. But I didn’t care. I just wanted to watch my team.   

Could anything go wrong?  

After hearing Nottingham Forest had not scored in their last five games and having former City manager Chris Hughton in their dug out, I must confess I had fears of it being a classic case of ‘along come Norwich’. 

After Anthony Knockaert's cross went straight in, that sinking feeling struck again, although it soon evaporated once Emi Buendia put us in the lead again, only for us to hang on again. Nerves and stress were there. Kicking and screaming for every ball.  

After a stressful 15, 20 minutes of us holding on to the 2-1 lead, the final whistle went. We did it.   

Phew. The perils of watching Norwich City. Never easy. But then again, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I was truly back in ‘My Happy Place’.

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