There have been some horrors at Wolves down the decades, but this season’s away day at Molineux was as bad as any for Norwich – and probably the worst, because it had one appalling and unprecedented element: the allegation of racist abuse being used by some of our fans against other Norwich supporters.
The incident happened near where I was sitting. It is being investigated and I did not hear what was shouted or said, and so it would be dangerous and wrong for me to comment on the specifics, other than that the group of supporters who were on the receiving end included family and friends of one of our players.
So there are some general points which are worth airing.
There is a disturbing amount of hatred shown by some City fans, on message boards and at matches, particularly away games (when there has often been more alcohol consumed).
That is bad enough and makes most of us want to weep with frustration at the unnecessary nastiness.
But racism is particularly and intolerably pernicious. And the decent majority of our supporters who understand that have to make it completely clear to those who don’t that they do not have licence to say ignorant, bigoted things just because they’re at a football match and have had a bevvy.
Sometimes it is difficult or potentially provocative to tell someone that what he has said is out of order. But it is always necessary.
We have to report the neanderthals too. Kick It Out have an app you can download to make that bit easy.
There was another example of anti-social behaviour at Molineux by a few Yellow Army foot soldiers – not at all in the same order of importance as racism, of course. But a few militant standers behaved like silly little schoolboys.
To be clear, this is an entirely different issue to the entirely legitimate campaign by The Barclay End Projekt and others to persuade the club to introduce a “safe standing” area at Carrow Road. That’s a debate worth having and an understandable point of view.
Nor am I talking about those areas of the away support at Wolves where everyone was standing. If I’d been in those bits, I’d have stood too, without complaint.
But I wasn’t. My wife and I were in a section where everyone was seated, though choice – a choice which is every bit as valid as the one made by those who opt to stand.
There were just five people who decided to stand in our bit. Two in front of me and my wife and three a few rows from the front.
I asked the two in front of me to sit. One said he couldn’t, because he’d had “major back surgery”. He lifted his shirt to show me half an inch of very old scar tissue on his spine. I asked him to stand somewhere else, then, where others were standing.
He didn’t want to.
I persisted. His mate was more amenable and suggested swapping seats – or more accurately, swapping a standing position with a seat – with a lad behind us. But, not unreasonably, the lad wanted to remain with his family, in the seats they’d paid for.
Eventually, the two shuffled along to join the standers away to our right. And, Hallelujah! Chummy experienced a miracle cure. I noted he was able to sit all the way through the half-time interval.
Two of the three obstinate standers nearer the front were taken out by stewards, obviously read the riot act and allowed back in. Sheepishly they sat. But, like big kids, on the occasions when we all jumped up, they lingered upright long after everyone else had sat down (while glancing timorously at the stewards).
Now, some would say that the stewards should either have made everyone sit or nobody. And I’ve been irritated by plenty of inconsistent “men in jackets” over the years.
But, actually, the light touch of the Wolves stewards – only enforcing the law (and it is a law) where the standers were being deliberately inconsiderate to others – was helpful to the majority of supporters.
And, for Heaven’s sake, we’re supposed to be on the same side! We all care about the same team. We all give our money, our time and our emotional commitment to the same cause. Surely we can ALL show basic decency and politeness to each other?
I can explain the reason for being respectful of the needs of others to my two-year-old granddaughter. Folk ought to have grasped it by the time they’re allowed in pubs.
The football? Well, it was a crushing disappointment. But the maths are against us.
Only seven of the 33 teams relegated from the Premier League in the last decade have bounced straight back. And we are just one of the 18 teams in our division have been in the Prem.
I don’t think playing two-up, with a narrow diamond, was sensible against a team with the momentum of promotion. And, as Neil Adams remarked afterwards, if you are not “at it” in the Championship, you’ll get rolled over.
But, on the other hand, we started with a defeat (at home to Watford) the last time we won promotion from the second tier and seldom win our first match no matter what level we’re in.
It could be a long, hard season, though. So you’ll have to excuse me if I decide to sit for a lot of it.