I once spent nearly six hours in the back of a Bentley with David Sullivan’s partner, Eve, and that is why he probably won’t buy Norwich City. Perhaps I’d better explain.
It began with an interview Sullivan gave to the Sunday Times in which he complained about all the time he spent schlepping along motorways from his home in Epping Forest to Birmingham City and back.
I wrote a critical column for the Daily Express, saying that his remarks were a slap in the face for ordinary fans, who travel in considerably less comfort in support of the Blues.
Sullivan emailed me. It was not a polite email. It assumed (like Pink Un message board posters) that I only go to matches when I am paid to do so.
I put him right about that, and our internet exchanges became more civil. Eventually I persuaded him to let me go to a game with him for an article.
The idea was that I’d travel with him to and from a fixture at St Andrews and write a piece about the loneliness of the long-distance owner, or something like that.
It all went pretty well, until the journey back after the game. After the dreaded M6 and the hideous M1, we were cruising around along the grotesque M25 – Sullivan in the front with the driver, me in the back with Eve and her spectacular décolletage – when we came to a halt, as you do on the M25.
It was approaching midnight. A little way ahead of us, a lorry had accidentally and unhelpfully deposited its load of gravel on the carriageway. We were there until nearly 4am.
The driver’s supply of toffees ran out long before that, and so did our patience. The worst journey I have ever suffered rather made Sullivan’s point for him.
And that is why he and David Gold want to buy West Ham. Failing that, they’ll buy Charlton. It is not because they don’t like Norwich; Gold, in particular, has a very affable relationship with Delia Smith – it is geographic. Norwich is just too far away.
Those of us who cannot help ourselves, and who dwell more than 100 miles from Carrow Road, will continue to grow old in the perpetual traffic jam that is Elveden, but Sullivan and Gold would rather not.
They’ve had enough of travelling long distances to every home game and every meeting. They’ve been there and done that. This time, they want a club near their homes.
So we’re where we have been since Delia and Michael Wynn-Jones first answered Geoffrey Watling’s desperate plea for cash 13 years ago – relying on their passion for our club to keep it afloat.
And so, at 68, she keeps working, long after she had hoped to stop, so that there’ll be another odd couple of million quid available when the club needs it. There are some fans who won’t believe that, but I know it’s true.
Meanwhile, although tenth in the Championship was seen as such a heinous crime that the Worthington Out campaign gathered its irresistible momentum, being in the top six in League One feels good.
And of the men selected by Bryan Gunn to start what became that calamitous first game of this season, all but four of them were picked by Paul Lambert to kick-off against Brighton.
It is, indeed, a funny old game.
But, yes, it does feel good to see City win, although it was the draw at Southampton that gave me most cause for optimism. The country’s second-most partisan and provocative stewards (Plymouth have the worst) could not spoil the enjoyment of watching Lambert refuse to accept defeat.
Some of us were getting philosophical when Norwich trailed 2-1 but Lambert wouldn’t have it. He made his substitutions so that fresh legs could be deployed, and the pressing game he demands could continue. Seldom has a point been more thoroughly deserved or more fulfilling to watch.
The most telling moment against Brighton was surely Adam Drury’s tackle on the edge of their box that set up Wes Hoolahan’s goal. Again, the tactic of pressing opponents, rather than regrouping further back down the pitch, was rewarded.
Long may it continue. It’s just a pity Sullivan thinks it’s too far to travel to watch.