‘Read All About It’: Norwich hit the headlines 24-hours-a-day in the digital age of sports news…Thu 12 Sep 13 by Chris Young
Neil was upbeat.
“It seems as if we’ve got several good options regarding strikers. One of Redmond’s strengths is his pace…. ”
It was a few minutes after the final whistle against Southampton and Norwich had chalked up their first three-pointer of the season with that superb Nathan Redmond strike. For once, most callers to BBC Radio Norfolk’s Canary Call were in positive mood.
Then, it was Tom’s turn:
“Redmond saved us – definitely saved us. Apart from that we were quite bland. …We pushed the ball backwards and from side to side…..”
And Twitter was working overtime.
Ben: “Nathan Redmond was immense and scored a great goal. What a buy he looks so far.”
And then Redmond himself tweeted, presumably from the dressing room: “I’m happy it was in front of a full house at Carrow Road. Hopefully it’s the first of many.”
Yes, never in the 111-year history of Norwich City has it been possible to read, listen and watch so much about the on and off-field exploits of the Canaries. And never have fans enjoyed so many opportunities to have their say.
I’ve been taking a look at a few of today’s media outlets which are covering the exciting times at Carrow Road and Colney. From traditional TV, radio and newspapers to the burgeoning world of websites, podcasts, tweets and social media.
Let’s start with the newspapers which have followed Norwich City from the start, reporting that first tentative meeting of the club’s founders at the Criterion café in 1902.
Over the years, the EDP and the Evening News have been the greatest sources of Canary news and gossip. Take a look at last year’s 155-page Archant publication ‘Norwich City – History As It Happened’ to see how print journalism’s reporting of football has changed over a century. Along with the club’s fortunes.
These days, Monday’s EDP includes The Pink Un, with its in-depth resume of the weekend. But by Monday, isn’t it old news? Haven’t most fans been to the game? Listened to the radio? Watched MOTD/Sky? Read the online reports and the Sunday papers?
Perhaps Archant hopes its low-budget Mustard TV can provide that instant coverage with presenter Michael Bailey filing a video report from the ground. Bailey verges on the hyperactive, with his numerous reports, podcasts and tweets. I counted 37 tweets on transfer deadline day.
Staying with broadcasters….. BBC’s Look East and ITV Anglia have huge editorial areas with many football teams to cover, so basically there’s headline coverage only from them.
But Radio Norfolk, I believe, does Norwich City proud. I have huge respect for match day commentator Chris Goreham. Where does he find the stamina to present the station’s breakfast programme each morning, which can mean the alarm going off at 4 am, as well as reporting from Carrow Road and all other Premiership grounds? Let’s hope his boss, David Clayton, rewards him well.
Now we come to specialist Norwich City websites.
I have reservations about the official Norwich City website. Slow to respond. OK for ticket information, match reports and confirmation of done-and-dusted transfer deals. But think back to Paul Lambert’s graceless departure and Grant Holt’s unpopular transfer request, both in May 2012. At the height of those dramas, the club website was silent, doing little to clarify the rumours and speculation.
But I do value the club’s Canary Player service. For £37.99 a year, I can watch news conferences, manager and player interviews and highlights of games, as well as listen to Chris Goreham’s commentaries.
Wrath of the Barclay is high profile, with 7,300 registered users. It’s often the home of heated Canary debate although football isn’t always the main topic. At the time of writing this column, the main issue appears to be a discussion about the best suppliers of logs in Norwich.
Sing Up The River End is an extraordinary labour of love by Canary historian Andrew Harrison, with its mass of facts and figures about players and the club. Did you know that one-time City player John Gurkin was born in County Durham in 1895? Or that 342 Norwich players turned out in ten or fewer senior games?
Flown from the Nest records the biographical details of 850 former City players and managers going back to 1980. Where, for instance, is 1990s City striker Ade Akinbiyi now? Well, he’s just been appointed player-coach at Colwyn Bay.
What chance do today’s fans have to make their voices heard? Surely more than ever before. If you’ve already sounded off on Canary Call, posted your views on message boards; if you’re a regular tweeter and a Facebook devotee – well, how about blogging?
I live in Cornwall and join the Yellow Army for most of City’s away games. So, I’ve been fascinated by blogs written by other fans who travel in the yellow and green cause.
I sympathised with the London-based author of Away Days, at the end of last season. He wrote: “As an attendee of all but one away game during the 2012/13 campaign, I can honestly say it‘s been a tough season for the hardened Norwich City traveller.
“With the result at Swansea and the victory at Manchester City being the only away wins, I was in doubt as to whether or not to renew my away season ticket…”
So was I… but I did, eventually.
It’s all a far cry from my boyhood days in the 1950s. Then, there was little more than John Snagge reading the results on the BBC Home Service, ‘Custodian’ and ‘Old Pro’ reporting for the newspapers and the much anticipated Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly. Oh, and Sportsview, presented by Peter Dimmock, if you were lucky enough to have a TV.
In that black and white era, there was also the FA Diary, every schoolboy’s must-have Christmas present. It contained page after page of pictures of footballers, with their neatly parted short-back-and-sides. Not a diamond ear ring in sight.
The diary contained details of players, clubs and grounds. At 10, my mate, Andrew, and I, knew it all by heart.
“Who does Len Shackleton play for?…. Which club wears blue and white quartered shirts?….What’s the record crowd at Ayresome Park?”
And there were the cigarette cards.
“I’ll swop one of my Billy Wrights for your Johnny Haynes.”
If you fancy a nostalgic glimpse back at those distant days, take a look at the East Anglian Film Archive at: www.eafa.org.uk. There are some wonderful Pathe newsreel reports of City’s ‘59 cup run. It was a different world.
And in that different world, it would have been inconceivable to have envisaged the growth of today’s billion pound football industry… and the massive media involvement that goes with it, indeed, largely, funds it.
Sky Sports has revolutionised football, both its finances and its coverage. For armchair fans, Sky’s pioneering camera and studio technology sets the gold standard. Gary Neville is television’s top football analyst. And a word here about Sky’s Norwich City reporter, my friend and former colleague, Stuart Jarrold. No one is better at coaxing good quotes out of less-than-forthcoming managers and players. He even persuaded Delia to sing ‘We‘re going up, up, up‘ in front of Sky’s cameras after City’s 5-1 victory over Ipswich in April 2011.
After 49 years on the air, MOTD looks well past its sell-buy date. I won’t miss Alan Hansen, too smug. I was pleased to see Robbie Savage in the studio a week or so ago. He won’t please everyone but he must be worth a trial.
BT Sport is also on trial. The fine city’s own Jake Humphrey is talented and, hopefully, the Canaries will be treated with more respect. Less of the ‘little ol’ Norwich’.
BBC’s 5 live Sport is fast and accurate. I rate it as sports journalism of the highest order. The laddish talkSPORT isn’t my cup of tea. Nor, from what I’m told, would Adrian Durham be, with his ill-informed sniping at City.
And then there’s the extraordinary amount of football coverage on the internet. Website, after website, after website.
Here are just a few I’ve come across:
www.newsnow.co.uk; www.wheresthematch.com; www.football365.com; www.footytube.com; www.futbol24.com; www.inthehandsofthefans.co.uk; www.football-rumours.co.uk; www.footballrants.com; www.footballfancast.com.
Almost all carry information about individual clubs. You pays your money, so to speak, and you takes your choice.
At random, I selected www.footballrants.com and found this prediction for 2013/14: “Chris Hughton is a good guy and a decent manager but a totally unassuming character…….. he’s got to be considered one of the favourites for the chop this year.” Ouch.
Our website, this website, www.norwichcity.myfootballwriter.com, has just passed an important milestone – its 3,000th posting. Two of its columnists, founder Rick Waghorn and Fleet Street veteran Mick Dennis, are among the best informed and most eloquent football writers in the business. And the others know their stuff. I think MFW is a highly professional website, as good as any in the land.
But then, I would say that, wouldn‘t I?
This report doesn’t claim to have been a comprehensive study of football coverage 21st century-style, simply a brief glance at the massive growth which it’s undergone.
I hope you, City’s fans, will now add your views. Do you swear by – or at – MOTD? Which websites do you follow? Have newspapers had their day? Do you tweet and will you blog?
And is football any the better for it?