The news that Norwich City have won an award as Championship Family Club of the Year was unmarked upon and seemed unremarkable.
Yet, in fact, it was a real achievement because of what it says about the esteem with which the club is regarded.
A posh dinner at an expensive hotel in London's Park Lane was held for the third annual Football League and FourFourTwo Awards. There were 123 entries for five awards. Six clubs were short-listed for two, Wycombe for three and Norwich made the short-list for four.
So, in that sense, they were clear and outstanding leaders. But, because City won a couple of awards last year, there was a feeling among the judges that it was someone else's turn. Despite that, the Norwich entry was “highly commended” in the Best Community Initiative section.
That means must have been a very close second behind the winners, Charlton, because the judges only announce a “highly commended” if the voting is tight.
The award City did win, as Family Club of the Year, involved so-called 'mystery shoppers' visiting every club. The mystery shoppers pretended to be a family of away fans and compiled a report about every aspect of the their day out.
They said Carrow Road provided “an exceptional family matchday experience” so Chloe Turner, City's young supporters' administrator, deserved the champagne manager Glenn Roeder bought as the Norwich tables at the dinner celebrated.
Several of the backroom staff who attended expressed surprise and delight that Roeder and his wife went along to show their support for and appreciation of the whole Norwich City team. There were very few other managers in the room.
But Roeder is obviously buying into the Norwich ethos. He said: “There must be nearly a thousand people here from all over the Football League and everyone I have talked to has praised the way Norwich go about their business and the way they involve themselves in their community.
“Nobody has a bad word to say about our club.”
It was a theme that he returned to last night in the wake of City's 1-1 draw away at Watford – and, in particular, the surprise of one reporter that goal-scorer Jamie Cureton didn't join 'one of the top Championship clubs' last summer.
It brought an icy return from the City chief; that the Canaries were one of the top Championship clubs.
“We play in front of 25,000,” he said, with a note of both anger and defiance in his voice. After all, there were only 16,500-odd at Vicarage Road last night for a game that could have left the Hornets knocking bang on the door of the Premiership. There were 24,000 at Charlton; 20,000 at Ipswich; 13,500 at Crystal Palace.
Put those figures alongside the extraordinary level of season-ticket take-up for a club that four months ago was five points adrift at the foot of the table and Roeder is starting to come out punching when anyone suggests that the Canaries are one of the smaller Championship clubs.
“Actually, I am quite fed up of the low profile that we have,” he said, the suggestion being that 'even the optimists' wouldn't have had Norwich down as one of the clubs that would have been challenging for promotion this season. It was a testy exchange.
“Well, they should do. There are not too many clubs that play in front of 25,000. They should do. And it's my job to change that.
“I want that responsibility – where we're expected to win promotion. Whether we can do it in one hit we will have to wait and see.”
Quizzed as to whether the number of loan players he had brought to the club 'was fair', Roeder continued to ride into battle on behalf of his new employers. He would, he vowed, bring in more if he could.
“I want the best for our supporters – they deserve it,” he said. “Our supporters are fantastic.”
And this was the interesting bit; the bit that tallied with his appearance at the Football League Awards night on Sunday. “I didn't really realise it,” he said.
“[I knew] that Norwich was a lovely club, a nice club. But the supporters over the last few years have been undersold. And it's my job to give them something to cheer about.
“It'll take a little bit of time because it is a complete restructuring and rebuilding job, but the thing is we've got the basis there. A Premiership training ground, a Premiership stadium and the size of the crowd… We just haven't got the team at the moment. But we're working on that.”
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