Stan couldn't make it to Burnley. Instead, he got a few beers in, made Mrs Stan a curry, put Arsenal on the TV with the sound off, and settled down to listen to Radio Norfolk, hoping against hope that the patterns of play at the Emirates would somehow be virtually replicated by the Canaries at Turf Moor.
Four minutes in and Stan switched the radio off, drank his beer far too quickly, and drifted off into a kind of 'Life on Mars' reverie: old City players drifted before his eyes, the smell of freshly lit cigarettes and old clothing wafted through the air; Stan felt concrete steps underfoot and the tingle of excitement that the old terraces seemed to cocoon, especially at night time games. And before Stan knew it ?
Old Trafford, 23 October 1976. John Bond's Norwich City take the pitch [soundtrack: 'Blitzkrieg Bop', The Ramones], pumped up in front of 50,000 punters with bad hair and trousers that are soon to be recognised as far too wide.
All too quickly, however, City find themselves 2-0 down, going in at half time to recuperate and work out how to a) get back into the game, or b) set about a damage limitation exercise [soundtrack: 'Musical Shark Attack', I-Roy]. Come the second half and the sprit of Norwich City lives, as goals by John Ryan and Phil Boyer rescue a point that keeps us ticking along in the old Division One [soundtrack: 'Golden Years', David Bowie].
As the crowd leaves, Stan's comrades recognise that we have truly arrived as a top-tier club; that we are really on the up [soundtrack: 'New Rose', The Damned, released the previous day].
Fast forward to Carrow Road, 23 October 1982. This time it's Ken Brown's Canaries who take the field against Aston Villa, playing in shorts that are way too tight and pin-stripe shirts [soundtrack: 'Temptation', New Order]. In a hard fought game, Norwich squeeze out a 1-0 win courtesy of John Deehan. The mood is tense, however [soundtrack: 'Plan B', Dexy's Midnight Runners].
This is only the second win of our first season back in Division One, and Dave Watson is injured. Consequently, the bulk of the 14,968 crowd are tutting like there's no tomorrow [soundtrack: 'Who Makes the Nazis', The Fall]. Luckily, a chap called Aage Hareide is on his way from Man City to bolster the squad and ensure a bad start is transformed into mid-table security.
Stan therefore heads down the Barclay steps happy, looking out to the industrial wasteland over towards the station, and rubbing his hands as a long cold autumn begins to set in [soundtrack: 'The Back of Love', Echo and the Bunnymen].
Carrow Road again, 23 October 1985 [soundtrack: 'Eighties', Killing Joke]. In the last six months, City have won the Milk Cup, been relegated, and then deprived of our first ever sortie into European football. As a sop, we take part in the Screen Sport Super Cup, and tonight we play Everton in front of just 12,021 supporters [soundtrack: 'That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore', The Smiths].
Thankfully, with Kevin Drinkell and David Williams to the fore, we beat the first division outfit 1-0 courtesy of a Peter Mendham goal into the second half [soundtrack: 'Rock the Bells', LL Cool J]. One of Stan's favourite ever City sides is riding high, a title win is on the horizon, and another golden age is dawning.
Almost against his wishes, Stan wakes up. Flickering at the back of his mind is an entertaining 0-0 draw against West Ham on 23 October 1993; a young Darren Eadie appears and continues to prove we have a fine future ahead.
Confusion then reigns as Stan switches the radio back on to hear that Chris Brown has scored – is this another virtual reality? Has Stan come back to a time when Norwich City travelled away with confidence and a team pulling all together?
No chance. The final whistle blows. On 23 Octiber 2007, we have lost our eighth game in twelve, we are joint-bottom, with no manager or coach, and we have a squad still lacking in key areas and lacking in big characters. The future looks bleak as those past glories just drift further away.
If only we could find another like Aage Hareide …
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