As I stare at a blank screen, trying to get the inspiration to write the first line of copy for the various pieces of sales literature, website copy or blogs for the companies I write for, my mind invariably drifts off to the subject I love the most – football. Or should I say, Norwich City.
Manufacturing and construction may be my bread and butter, but it’s all a means to an end – to pay for my season ticket!
This morning as I struggle to find the right words to promote a client’s new service range, my mind wanders to a recent tweet that I responded to. The writer had a thread which listed the many reasons (in his opinion) why it is better to watch games on television than going to a stadium.
One of those reasons was that you “can relax comfortably on your sofa”.
I, for one, have never relaxed watching Norwich on TV. In fact, it makes the whole game more stressful feeling that I am unable to influence the game from my living room (not that I can from the stands, but I feel I am doing ‘my bit’ when I am there).
My initial response was (that’s after I fought back the urge to correct his spelling and grammar), was that there is nothing like watching your team live.
I do understand that cost, location, work and availability of tickets can often prohibit some fans from attending games, and therefore TV is the only way that they can see their team play live. However, TV can never replicate the atmosphere in a stadium when your team has scored a last-minute winner, hugging random people around you, falling over the seats in front and making a complete fool of yourself – just as 26,000 others are.
It certainly can’t replicate the camaraderie pre, during and post-match.
He then came back with, “But how common are last-minute winners?” He obviously never saw Norwich’s results last season! I could have argued with him for some time, but for someone who admitted that he would rather “watch my team lift a treble live on TV”, I thought I would leave it there.
However, it did get me thinking about the lengths we go to so that we get our teams play live.
Take the Saturday before last. I left home at 6.10 a.m. to catch a bus to Burnley and returned home just before 11.30 p.m. – all to see Norwich lose 2-0 against a team that plays defensive, physical, unattractive football.
But I’d do it all again next week. It’s not just about the football. It’s meeting up with your mates before the game, having a couple of drinks, discussing the team selection, singing your heart out in the stands during the game, clapping the players off the field – even though you are as disappointed as they are, and – of course – dissecting what went wrong on the journey back home.
You don’t get all of that sitting on your sofa.
Although there are many days like Burnley (and palace) away, these pale into insignificance when compared to the Man City game. Only very few Norwich fans had us down for a win against last year’s Premier League champions when Daniel Farke delivered the injury list at his press conference the day before (although if you go on Twitter, there is a video of me confidently stating that we would beat them 2-1 – it was the drink talking at that point, I might add).
If I say I was shocked when the Mayor opened the scoring against the champions, it was nothing to what I was feeling when Todd Cantwell calmly found the back of the net for our second, or when Emi robbed Otamendi to set up Teemu Pukki for our third.
Every player gave their all for the team and the fans were amazing – in fact, in 45 years of visiting Carrow Road, I have never heard the crowd as loud as they were throughout the entirety of the game.
In the last few minutes, the crowd cheered every miss-hit pass and celebrated Tim Krul collecting a shot as if we had scored. But that was nothing to how Carrow Road erupted when the referee blew for full time.
It’s one of those days that everyone will remember, and in years to come – like Woodstock – people will no doubt brag that they were there, even if they weren’t. For those watching on the sofa, it would have been a special win, but there is nothing like being in the thick of the celebrations. I fell over the seat in front of me, hugged everyone around me, and sang my heart out, as so many others did.
As Norwich fans, we go through many ups and downs, but we all love our team. When we lose, we are back travelling around the country the following week with renewed hope. When we win, we are buoyed for the next game.
Sitting on the sofa may be the only way many fans get to see their team, but for me, there’s nothing like waking up on match day with that hope that my team will put on a performance that will silence the best teams in the land.
While I still have the luxury of being able to go to games, I will count myself lucky that am able to watch my team.