So, now we know. The play-offs it is.
For the Yellow Army, last weekend was rife with disappointment. Further to events at the New York stadium and the sending-off of Lewis Grabban some of our number took to social media to express their displeasure.
While it may have been only a vocal minority, the voice of the dissenters was loud, vociferous and – in some cases – fuelled by venom. It was unpleasant. The unity that has served the club so well since the arrival of Alex Neil took a sizeable hit.
Now the dust has settled some may have mellowed in their view – and I’m positive that no-one wants to re-engage in the ‘civil wars’ of seasons gone by – but for others the damage was done.
Some regular MyFootballWriter commenters have sensibly highlighted the need to unite and the positive effect it can have on the club’s bid for play-off success, but one of our readers – Anita Byrne-Phillips – went one step further and eloquently committed her thoughts to her smart phone.
Read her impassioned plea for unity below…
Seventeen years ago I was taken to my first professional football match. It was a case of if you can’t beat them join them!
What followed was remarkable. I immediately fell in love with the atmosphere, the humorous, friendly banter and the game itself. It was the day I discovered that my blood runs green and yellow and, in that moment, I had a whole new family.
I eventually joined my new ‘brothers and sisters’ with a season ticket in the Snakepit area (albeit it back then it was known as a home for ‘Barclay rejects’).
Football has changed a lot in the intervening years – new divisional names, new rules and a lot more pressure and money – but the backbone remains the same; the passion for Norwich City, the loyalty, the unconditional support.
I have cried with grown men in the bad times and I have hugged complete strangers in the excitement of the good times – such as the thrill of a last minute winner. I am Norwich City through and through and these people are my family.
But on Saturday night I witnessed a side of football that aggrieved me so much I was compelled to put pen to paper (or, to be more accurate, fingers to an electronic touch screen device): I witnessed verbal attacks on a footballer’s social media accounts from, apparently, my beloved yellow family.
And this is not the first time that Norwich players have been targeted.
I then saw support for this vitriolic abuse with phrases such as, “they are footballers, they are thick skinned” and, “they put themselves in media spotlight so they deserve it”. Moronic, unintelligent comments further added to the abuse that had already been dished out.
But would these same people condone racial or homophobic abuse? Would they support a physical attack in the same way? Therefore, why should abuse be categorised differently?
A verbal attack is just that – an attack. If I, or others, make a mistake at work we expect our manager to pull us up on it, perhaps even issue a warning, but I would not expect an attack of such venom.
Yes footballers get paid large sums of money but it’s a profession they have been chosen for due to their natural gift and ability. Yes they should be accountable for their actions, but that is why we have officials – some of whom are better than others of course – fines and bans.
Freedom of speech thankfully allows us to have opinions and to discuss the rights and wrongs but it does not give us the right to play vigilante, to turn into online bullies, to start hate campaigns on individuals or attack people – either verbally or otherwise.
This is a subject that is close to my heart, having had a child bullied via social media that ultimately led to a physical attack. Thankfully justice prevailed and the person involved was dealt with by the judicial system but as a result I will not tolerate bullying or abuse of any kind. Instead I will stand up against it.
So we have one game left this season – not including the dreaded play-offs – and now, more than ever, we need to support our team. We, as Norwich City fans, need to step up to the mark and unite.
If promotion was based only on passion and a great fan base we would already be flying high.
One shirt, one football team, two colours… yellow and green.
Thanks to Anita for sending her heartfelt piece to MyFootballWriter. Hopefully her powerful words will strike a chord.
You can follow her on Twitter @anitabyrne