David Hannant: Why naming a street after Fash is just a cracking idea
- Credit: Archant
It is not often that my two walks of professional life - this column and my day-to-day life as a news reporter meet.
However, while covering a meeting of Norwich City Council on Tuesday evening, this opportunity presented itself.
During the meeting, one of the councillors - Nanette Youssef of the Green Party - made a cracking suggestion for the council to consider as opportunities arise to name new streets.
This suggestion was admirably made to do something very important - celebrate the history and culture of black people in the fine city of Norwich. But in doing so, it also struck a chord for Norwich City fans - as one name was at the forefront of her thinking: Justin Fashanu.
The name of this revered City Hall of Famer has come across the lips a fair few times this season, largely due to a campaign to devote a statue to him and partly due to the 30th anniversary of him doing the one thing no other elite footballer has done - openly admit to being a homosexual.
And while I do support the idea of a statue, there is a part of me that thinks a road name would actually be an even better one.
One thing that regularly cropped up during the debate about a statue earlier this year, was not perhaps whether Justin was worthy of one (he was), but more whether others were more deserving of one.
Taking this solely and purely from a footballing point of view, there is little doubt that there were players who did more on the field for City than Fashanu.
There are players who played more, who scored more, who devoted more of their career to the Canaries - of course there were. Duncan Forbes was the one that cropped up the most.
In placing a statue outside of Carrow Road, the immediate association anyone who sees it will make is with the club.
Anyone who has a statue in that pride of position, must be synonymous with Norwich City and - to a certain extent - only with Norwich City Football Club.
Justin Fashanu was before my time, but also, for me, his association with the Canaries is merely one of his traits.
Somebody like Duncan Forbes is a Mr Norwich City, whereas Justin Fashanu is much, much more.
In Fashanu, you have a man who grew up in Norfolk with a foster family; a black man from an impoverished life who against all odds rose to have a career as a professional footballer.
Add to this the fact he did this at a time where it was far, far more difficult to be a member of the BAME community - even though we are some way off being a perfect world, strides have been made since then.
The courage he showed in coming out as a homosexual just adds to his legacy - and the tragic end to his life should not be forgotten for the same reason.
Placing his name on a street would commemorate him in a different way - as in some sense it even adds a little mystique.
Justin Fashanu as a statue outside Carrow Road would be great, but it would possibly only provoke thought among the footballing community.
Were a child - or adult for that matter - with no interest in football to walk past the stadium and see a statue, it is unlikely they would want to learn more about that person, or look them up.
“Oh look, a famous footballer,” they may just assume - which may then mean they don’t eventually go on to learn about his remarkable and tragic story.
However, without the context of football, anyone living or growing up near Justin Fashanu Way (for example) in years to come, may well look up his story and be inspired by it.
That is not to say a statue would also be brilliant, but I’m really impressed by the idea of a street name for this very reason.
I’m proud that Justin Fashanu was a Norwich City player, but his legacy stands for so much more than that - his story is an example to young people that hard work and bravery reaps rewards and that nobody should feel as though they cannot do something because of their place in society.
From a football fan’s point of view, I will admit that there are people whose footballing achievements in yellow and green deserve celebrating more than Justin Fashanu’s.
However, sometimes things are about more than just football, and as far as being a symbol of standing up to adversity, pulling down boundaries and defying the odds, Justin Fashanu is as deserving as any of some kind of long lasting memorial.
I, for one, think permanently putting his name on a street for generations to come is a fantastic idea and one that we can surely all get behind.
I would certainly be proud to one day walk down Fashanu Way.
Praying for Krul (ish)
I’ve never been a man of faith, but when Tim Krul limped off on Tuesday night I was as close as I’ve ever been to hunting for the good book.
Krul has been truly colossal so far this season and for me was well on course towards doing what only four men before him have done and pick up consecutive player of the season awards (here’s a challenge, name them!).
His form has been worth his weight in gold and he is easily the best goalkeeper in this league - but some distance.
Krul’s injury made Tuesday’s squeaked victory over Stoke almost feel like a defeat, in a way.
We’ve been unbelievably unlucky with injuries for more than just this season - if ever we were in need of a bit of fortune it’s with this one.
By the time this reaches your papers we may well know a bit more about Krul’s injury, but as I write this I hope in all hopes that it is not too bad.
Few players for me will be more important in this push for promotion that Tim Krul. He is a leader and is worth is weight in gold.
Best and worst of Emi
On Tuesday night, we saw the very best and very worst of Emi Buendia.
His finish for the first goal was terrific and that assist for Teemu Pukki’s first was even better - sumptuous is the world I would use.
And then in the second half, we all know what happened.
Since arriving at Carrow Road, Emi has seen red on no fewer than three occasions - and in fairness been lucky not to on several more.
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But in a weird way, I can actually make peace with this frustrating fact.
For one, Emi more than makes up for his occasional misdemeanour with moment after moment of brilliance.
But the main reason I can deal with it is this - maybe, just maybe these random flashes of petulance could be turning away the heads of potential suitors?
I’m sure many clubs recruit on highlight reels - if having the odd rash moment to sit on a lowlight reel counteracts that then it’s fine by me.
The longer we get to enjoy Emi’s brilliance in yellow and green, the better.