Football is a game of opinions.
Everyone has them, whether they travel miles and miles to watch their team or choose to follow their heroes via their radios every week, kicking every ball from the confines of their living room, or follow City via the internet.
Football, being the inclusive game it is, allows those opinions to be aired, with every individual view being equally valid. There is no need for hierarchy. And social media acts as the fan to the fire, stoking up the flames of debate on platforms that are accessible to all.
Supporters are permitted a ‘louder’ voice due to the accessibility of Twitter, Facebook and co. What were once mumbles at the final whistle of a fixture followed by a week of respite is now a continuous space for debate, opinion and articles (like this one).
All of which helps the connection supporters have with their club.
Social media deepens that relationship and strengthens the role fans are able to play. Whether their posts are articulate, analytical or merely off the cuff, they are all valid regardless of a supporter’s miles travelled or games watched.
Football isn’t black or white, it’s a multifaceted sport that fuels emotions – which is all part of supporting a team. Those emotions run through every club, regardless of the division, success or size of its fanbase. Fundamentally, it’s a game that is supposed to provide joy to those who watch it.
Fun is subjective though, whether that involves singing until you’re hoarse or watching with an elderly grandparent whose relationship with you revolves around football. Both are equally meaningful and relevant.
There was a time where football fans were, unfairly in most cases, labelled as mindless thugs intent on disrupting the core of society with their aggressive behaviour. That was a myth perpetuated through the mainstream for a prolonged period of time.
Yet, since the start of my love affair with football, I’ve witnessed charitable collections that reach a significant amount of people, solidarity shown to individuals in times of crisis and a city that comes alive on a Saturday to rally around eleven players in yellow and green.
This is the power of football. Where being connected with it emits an overriding feeling of joy, knowing you are impacting on something greater than yourself. The communal aspect, one that requires togetherness, needs to be extended to the debating sphere of the game.
Football is an emotive game. The emotions hit you from the moment you place your ticket through the turnstile and enter the concourse for the very first time.
As a child, walking down the concourse with the smell of various pies filling your nostrils before walking up to the terrace and taking your seat, football is a numinous experience. Regardless of when that is, attending a match feels like a major event as a child, and often it’s the beginning of a love affair.
In the here and now, City are on the verge of something memorable. Everybody inside the Norwich City bubble is conscious of the various scenarios.
Promotion is within their grasp. The odd disappointing result aside, everything points to the Premier League. There will be more potholes along the way – this is football after all – and everyone knows how unpredictable it can be.
But now isn’t the time for civil war. Instead, we need to stand together and aide the crossing of that line, which will result in pure euphoria for everyone of a yellow and green persuasion.
That doesn’t mean we avoid debate – if you hold an opinion on football, then share it – but possessing an opinion and veering towards slander are two polar opposites. One allows for healthy discussion and the other involves petulant name-calling. The former is constructive, the latter destructive.
To be in a position where a City player, particularly one who knows of nothing else but Norwich City, feels the need to tweet out a defence to his cause underlines this.
If in your opinion, a footballer didn’t have a good game, then you’re entitled to share your thoughts and debate that with others, but resorting to needless vitriol can only be a negative thing, particularly for a young footballer who is attempting to improve and make his way in the game.
Likewise, comments bemoaning other supporters merely creates friction and quickly gets blown out of proportion. There is no correct way to support the Canaries, that’s completely down to the individual. Travelling 400 miles on any occasion, rain or shine, deserves nothing but applause but to do it in the numbers and colour that was evident on Sunday was nothing short of exceptional.
Ours is a club that, this season, has come together like never before. Emotions run high after games and sometimes comments are made when alcohol takes over, or where there is frustration. But turning on each other will only result in a lack of the atmosphere, something that has been so integral to the creation of fortress Carrow Road.
The chequered flag is being prepared, the final lap has begun, and Friday’s home fixture could – dependant on a Nottingham Forest win – seal our return to the top flight on English football.
So, now is most definitely not the time for conflict with those whose opinions or definition of support are not the same as yours. A drive down the A140 provides a graphic realisation of just how sweet these times are at present.
Fundamentally, this City side has reached the summit due to the togetherness between players, coaching staff and supporters. Something that has been built over a season but can be destroyed in an instant. Pressure can make or break a young squad, and given the season these players have given us, they don’t warrant any extra pressure.
Instead, we need to create an atmosphere that allows these players to return to the expressive football that has taken them to the edge of promotion.
Two disappointing results against teams deploying low blocks, desperate for points doesn’t require any drastic action. Personnel may change, it may not, but whatever Daniel Farke decides to go with on Friday evening, that should be supported by those in the terraces.
When the stakes are so high, expectation and emotion enter an entirely new dimension, but we should recall our expectations prior to the kick off in August. This is now a side that cannot finish lower than third place.
Given the dynamic of last season and the general underwhelm surrounding the club, a phoenix has risen. There have been times when they have had to roll with the punches, there has been the odd disappointing performance, but they have always found solutions. Be it a Teemu Pukki equaliser after a poor performance or a late sucker punch that meant three points became one, they are nearly there.
For four games, for 360 minutes, let’s create a vibrant, constructive environment while offering our unconditional support to see this through. Forget talk of attendances and focus on creating a positive atmosphere, as a collective. That doesn’t mean merely singing, but encouraging and supporting.
This group of players have given their all, have played arguably some of the best football this club has ever seen – they deserve our best.
Hierarchy in the terraces doesn’t exist, because a strong united collective is worth more than a group of individuals.
Ignore the noise.