Thud. Thud. Thud. Followed by wheeling away doing the aeroplane celebration, innocently singing It’s Coming Home as I heard it on the radio in the car.
That is one of my first real footballing memories. It was the summer of Euro ‘96 and I was kicking a ball against the side of the house Dad was renting during my parent’s divorce. I wasn’t really aware let alone worried about all that, I was just kicking the ball against the wall with my older brother.
Football makes you feel good, even when you are five-years-old, and you don’t really understand anything about the context of the teams, the games or national importance. It just has the ability to make you smile, as it provides a unique form of entertainment that can bring people together. From all backgrounds.
Sometimes, if we are lucky, it gives us pure unbridled joy – Kane’s last-gasp winner against Tunisia had England fans from Sheringham to Xiamen spilling their pints like nobody’s business.
It’s rare to get enjoyment like that in such a pure sense when you are a grown adult. But seeing James Maddison do what no other player was capable of in the current Norwich team, or indeed the entire Championship was something to behold.
Slamming home a winner and shushing the Ipswich fan (or were there two of them?) at Portman Road… pulling out a double-thronker against Middlesbrough… hitting the upper Benjamins against Preston, Reading… slaloming through the Hull defence… absolutely mugging off the Brentford defender to score one of his many goal-of-the-season contenders.
The quality he possesses and regularly showed last campaign was simply mesmeric. It was even more sensational considering the dross that was being played around him. We were all living in a Maddison world at times, and I really do wonder whether we’d be playing in League One if it wasn’t for his contributions.
Leicester City have got themselves a future England star, I have no doubt about that. I’m not alone in that high estimation – in fact, I hope we have a 20 per cent sell-on clause in there somewhere because even bigger clubs will be watching his progress in the next stage of his career in the Midlands.
He’s gone from the Sky Blues to the sky is the limit in two-and-a-half years. Maddison could give Theresa May a lesson in speed and productivity.
Webber – or I may start calling him Spreadsheet Stu given his proclivity to rake in the bank notes in exchange for our last remaining gems – has done what has been asked of him in the financial sense with aplomb. With what I understand is around £35 million in fees for Josh Murphy and Maddison (not including sell on fees payable to Coventry and the fact it doesn’t just plop into the account in its entirety first thing Monday) it’s still a hefty bit of dough that should allay any lingering fears about administration.
Now the most pertinent area which needs attention is clearly the on-pitch performances. 14th place is not good enough, no matter how many times the T-word is muttered as an excuse. Darren Huckerby received pelters on Twitter for merely saying Warnock had a good season at Cardiff but there is a case in point if you ever needed it, that it really doesn’t take much to ‘have a go’ at promotion in this league.
It doesn’t even take bags of money, a super-agent or a foreign innovator like Wolves had in their owners, manager and Mendes. But it does get even harder as the Premier League money continues to pour down in the form of parachute payments, and the paupers are left to slowly suffocate financially.
That is us now, a salmon jumping upstream, against the tide, hoping for the best. Unless Delia has an epiphany and has a change of heart, it’s the parameters we as a club are left to deal within.
The seeds of division have long been sown between Norwich fans and I fear for the team if this summer does not pay off in the sporting sense. If we are dropping down the table quicker than the leaves by autumn, the torches and pitchforks will be out and the Radio Norfolk callers will be dusting off their landlines.
I take no pleasure in that, but I personally think if you are passionate about your club you can robustly question and criticise decisions as and when you see fit – maybe that is the reporter in me.
To be honest, I think there are many of us glad we have the relief of international football this summer. You know our club has simply not been good enough when folk are pining for some England games for a change!
But we are now able to at least manoeuvre in the transfer market and with Buendia and McClean looking like promising ins, we should at least get a goalkeeper – maybe Marshall will get done, and a couple more signings.
We could still get some smiles and togetherness back amongst the Canary faithful next year, but I live in hope more than expectation now though.
Let’s just have a go this time, yeah?
PS It really is Coming Home this time ?