Scattered beer cans and sore heads were, no doubt, the order of the day last Wednesday morning as the city blinked its bleary eyes and slowly attempted to recall the events of the previous night, writes Gary Gowers.
I think it’s fair to say that, if nothing else, Tuesday night’s Norfolk invasion by the Celtic masses gave us all some light relief from the negativity that has pervaded City related message boards and social media over the last week or so.
The whole evening was an undoubted triumph for all concerned – not least for the star of the show, Adam Drury – whose wish for a ‘party atmosphere’ was followed to the letter by the 4,000 ‘invaders’.
Such was the infectious nature of the Celtic following we were treated to the unusual Carrow Road phenomenon of ‘audience participation’ from the Geoffrey Watling stand – their unbridled version of the Celtic Huddle, as they joined in with the rest of the ground, presented an image that will remain in the minds of those present for quite some time (note: Huddle, not Poznan, as our Scottish friends were very quick to point out!).
What on earth would dear old Geoffrey himself have made of it?
The game itself, whilst largely irrelevant, was unusually competitive for a Testimonial – although given the combination of a team managed by Paul Lambert and a passionate and fervent visiting support bigger than other seen at Carrow Road this season, then I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised.
For Celtic to bring such a huge travelling support for what was really nothing more than an end-of-season friendly was astonishing although, again, we shouldn’t have been surprised – after all, their following for Tim Sheppard’s 2001 Testimonial was equally as passionate and possibly even greater in number.
Ever since Ms Smith’s ever so slightly embarrassing ‘Let’s be havin’ you!’ rant back in 2005, I think a few of us have been fooled into thinking we actually are the best fans in the world.
Please think again folks – yes, on our day we can put on a decent show and there’s no denying that our away support is right up there with the best that the Premier League has to offer.
But compared to those clad in green and white hoops, if we’re really honest, we seriously have to ‘up our game’ to even get close to emulating that wall of Glaswegian sound.
I jest of course – in reality there’s no way we would ever be able to recreate that same embedded unity and passion that they display, particularly given that their united beliefs lie far deeper than supporting just a football team.
Such was the sense joy on display on a balmy Norfolk Tuesday night we were all prepared to overlook the odd sectarian chant – but in truth it is these songs, even more so than those of the footballing variety, that bond this mass of Scottish folk together so unconditionally.
The closest we can get is the odd raw, raucous, heartfelt (and spontaneous) version of On The Ball City, which does still retain the ability to make the hairs on the back of the neck stand up.
The Fields of Athenrye and You’ll Never Walk Alone clearly have a similar effect on the Celtic faithful, and also anyone else in earshot – or perhaps it was just me. And the song about Paddy McCourt has led me to the brink of emailing Neil Lennon to implore him not to sell!
(Does anyone know when/why Celtic and Liverpool formally traded those two songs?).
Some argue that On The Ball City is something of a dirge, but to all those doubters – be proud that we have a song that resonates so deeply with us, and us alone.
Yes, it may be considered a bit of a dirge, but it’s our dirge and never should anyone even contemplate replacing. Add to it with some new, uniquely Norwich songs by all means, but please never lose it.
The melodramatic part of me wants to say it’s part of who we are. Many clubs, and I’m not looking too far afield here, have no songs that are unique to them and in my view are much the poorer for it.
Whilst I’m not expecting to hear On The Ball City belted out regularly at Parkhead next season (wouldn’t work would it?), I do wonder if the bond forged between the Celtic and City supporters as a result of last Tuesday’s ‘party’ will be more enduring than your average holiday romance – I certainly hope it is.