Chelsea fans looked at all the green and yellow at Old Trafford and started to have some fun as their team went 2-0 up against Manchester United.
“It’s so quiet, it’s so quiet, it’s so quiet at Carrow Road,” they sang. Bemused and subdued, even those United fans who speak English did not respond. So Chelsea’s contingent chanted: “No noise from the Norwich boys.”
That was when I stood up in the Press Box, turned to the Chelsea corner and shouted: “Yellow Army!” Media colleagues who know my allegiance (and I make sure they all do) applauded me indulgently. Yes, it’s a wonderful time to be a Norwich fan.
Being part of the crowd going bonkers at Huddersfield, as immortalised on YouTube, was as gratifying as is possible with clothes on. Then, disappointing though it seemed at the time, the value of the point at Swindon has been underlined by the Wiltshire team’s results since.
At Carrow Road after the last-ditch triumph over Leeds, you needed only to look into the eyes of any other Norwich fan, and exchange relieved, delighted nods, to know what it all meant.
But paradoxically it was the performance at Prenton Park, Tranmere, that filled me with most pride – the performance of the team and the fans.
Alone among those behind the Cowshed End goal, I thought both penalties were awarded entirely correctly. I muttered, “Oh no,” as Darel Russell made an arm movement for the first (all that tosh about “ball to arm” is irrelevant, as anyone who knows the Laws understands).
Then, only folk with a distorting Norwich bias doubted what should happen when Fraser Forster responded so rashly to the Doc’s appalling back-pass.
And, because we want referees to respond to each incident without being prejudiced by what has gone before, we should extend them the same courtesy.
So, although the combined effect of all the controversial decisions was to make referee Eddie Ilderton Public Enemy No 1 everywhere with an NR postcode, I think you have to ignore the two penalties when you look at what happened subsequently.
Immediately before the crucial third goal, Tranmere players appealed for handball against the magnificent Michael Nelson.
Some would have given it, and certainly the attention of referee Ilderton was distracted as the ball skewered off Nelson towards Craig Curran. It was assistant referee Danny Roberts who should have spotted Curran control the ball with his bicep.
Amid all the fury directed at Roberts shouldn’t some of the anger and angst have been attributed to Curran? He was the one who cheated. Roberts just made a mistake, but he still made fewer errors that evening than, say, Wes Hoolahan, who had a shocker.
No, I realise it is a view that nobody shares, but the only incident for which I’d hold Ilderton culpable was the crass sending to the stand of manager Paul Lambert. The mistake was to caution Lambert for going onto the pitch to kick the ball.
With all that had gone before, that was bound to provoke an incendiary response. Lambert and at least two of his team allegedly swore at Ilderton, and so had to be “sent off”, but referees are told to manage situations and cautioning Lambert in the first place was mismanagement of the worst kind.
So there we were: three goals down, ten men, the second-choice goalkeeper between the sticks and the manager and two of his team unable to influence events.
How did the players respond? By running themselves into the ground and by passing Tranmere into near submission.
How did the fans respond? By repeatedly reminding everyone that “We are top of the League!” and continually boasting “We are going up! We are going up!”
Not till the very last minutes did the team or its supporters concede that Norwich were going to suffer a rare defeat. It was utterly magnificent and truly inspirational.
Team and fans were not as effective against Stockport. Like a batsman who has scored ninety-something, everyone was cowed by the realisation of how close Norwich are to a magnificent achievement.
Still, Swindon and Millwall, currently second and third, cannot both get maximum points, because they play each other. City’s goal difference is worth a point and so I believe two more wins will be enough to ensure three teams cannot finish above us.
This season began with my wife and I guests of Delia Smith and Michael Wynn-Jones at Carrow Road for the Colchester defeat and, because I was booted and suited, had partaken of posh nosh and am known to back our majority share-holders, I was roundly abused when my wife and I popped out afterwards to meet my son.
My good lady wife did not deserve to hear the foulest worst words in our language, but we were all hurting that day and I have long forgiven those who don’t have the luxury of columns to vent their feelings.
As my many message board critics point out, my work means that I can’t see every game City play. By the time I pitch up at Orient, I shall have managed to put together a sequence of seven, but the game at Brisbane Road could be my last of the season.
For only the second time this season, my wife and I are having a freebie that night. Delia and Michael have invited us to join them for the wonders of the Orient.
There would be a wonderful symmetry for the Dennis family if City clinch promotion that night. It might happen much later than that, but it will happen if those of us who care about this fine club from a Fine City raise our game again.
I spoke in the Gunn Club before the Leeds match and said that the cliché about the football season being a marathon is apposite.
Norwich fell flat on their face at the start of the marathon, staggered a bit when they picked themselves up, but then put in an extraordinary effort during the hard miles and are entering the final straight as clear leaders.
The pack are chasing and Norwich might falter a bit. So we have cheer them over the line. We have to be as resolute and full of faith as we were at Tranmere.
No noise from the Norwich boys? You’re joking. We have a song. It says: “Never mind the danger, steady on, now’s your chance…”