There’s no doubting that my wife Barbara is a true Norwich supporter.
She gets as emotionally involved in games as I do, and – despite friends’ incredulity that we make a 250-mile round trip to each home match – she wouldn’t contemplate giving up our season tickets.
This is pretty remarkable as she comes from Rochester. Not Rochester, Kent – Rochester, New York. Although she suffers the great misfortune of not being born in Norfolk, she’s made up for it with a whole-hearted conversion to the Canary cause.
I suppose she knew what she was letting herself in for, as our first date involved going to see City play at West Ham. While we both have a clear recollection of the day, conversations suggest a slight divergence in what we remember.
I suspect she remembers what we were each wearing. For me, I remember that we won 3-2 (two from David Jones, one from Kevin Reeves). At a push I might recall the minutes when we scored, but I’ve not the faintest idea what I was wearing.
The one certainty is that I wouldn’t fit into it now.
There are other small differences. We disagree about the merits of certain players – but no more than any two City fans you’d put in the same room. And she’s not entirely persuaded that a man of my age should be wearing a replica shirt.
Not to mention her view of my Norwich onesie.
A more serious issue is how we react to City losing. I sulk; she gets angry. While both are perfectly reasonable responses, they don’t mix well. So sometimes I end up defending players and tactics I really don’t want to defend, and so on. We always resolve things, but it doesn’t help the natural post-defeat healing process.
So we’ve supported Norwich together through plenty of thick and thin. We’ve followed them to Milan and Yeovil, to Old Trafford and the New Den; we’ve been through highs and lows at Highbury and The Valley.
In case anyone’s thinking at this point that I don’t treat my wife very romantically, I can dismiss that idea straightaway. Why, only this Easter I took her for a weekend in Brighton. (City won 1-0.)
Above all, I’m very conscious of how lucky I am to have a partner who shares this powerful and mysterious passion.
Barbara’s commitment is no less for having grown up outside Norfolk. After all, even Delia – who has surely given a greater proportion of wealth and energy to her club than any other major football owner – didn’t grow up with City in her blood. She was brought to it by her husband Michael.
By the way, if you don’t know much about Michael Wynn Jones (or even if you do) it’s well worth reading his chapter in Tales from the City.
Carrow Road has almost entirely happy memories for us. For importance of games and sentiment towards the opposition, I guess it’s hard to beat the semi-final/play-off wins over Ipswich (1985), Wolves (2002) and Ipswich (2015).
We’ve also of course seen Norwich win a Wembley final. Barbara is to blame that it wasn’t 2015. Frustratingly (in that respect) she was invited to speak at a conference in Australia, which is why we were on the other side of the world that wonderful day when we took Mr Karanka and his team to the cleaners.
But we were there to see Dave Watson lift the Milk Cup in 1985.
Time does fly. Ed Couzens-Lake’s pieces on this site always bring back vivid memories, but I need to remind myself that not all City fans are as long in the tooth as I am. I’ve been known to say that a current City player reminds me of, say, Colin Suggett – to blank expressions all round. Come on, surely you remember Colin Suggett??
Everyone has a ritual for their day at Carrow Road. Fortunately, ours offers plenty of compensation if the result isn’t right. As well as seeing friends who sit near us – I think of them as friends, even though we don’t know most of their names – we have lunch in the Gunn Club.
Barbara’s been known to say that lunch was the highlight of the day. Usually in those cases, I can’t disagree. But I’ll never regret making the journey, and I look forward to us sharing many more.