The unseasoned Canary observer could not have been blamed if he or she had seen some of the post-match reaction after our 1-1 draw against Rotherham at the weekend and thought we were a club in crisis.
Yes it was disappointing as indeed has been our form at home over the last few games.
But, whilst it is something that needs to be addressed, it’s surely more a case of letting time, understanding and not a little good coaching eventually iron out the playing issued at hand rather than, as some might have it, a marauding band of discounted fans marching on Colney with pitchforks flaming torches and effigies of whoever the current scapegoat of the week is for some.
I’m guessing Lewis Grabban right now?
Maybe those unfortunate players should be forced to wear a loud fluorescent bib at training inbetween games so that we and all of their teammates know who that not so special player is. Then, at the end of the season, there can be a count up of whoever has been blamed, cited, cursed and condemned the most with the lucky winner awarded a special trophy before the last home game.
It can be a warm up act before the presentation of the Barry Butler Memorial Trophy for the Player of the Season.
Maybe we can call it the Andy Hughes Fall Guy Trophy?
You might even get instances of players winning both awards. Such is the fickleness and divided opinion of football where one man’s Fernando Derveld is another’s Kevin Drinkell.
No seething mass of protest would be complete, of course, without each individual carrying their very own beer mat, complete with hastily written team and formation of choice, ready to be passed onto Neil Adams at the very earliest opportunity. The poor chap must go to his pigeon hole at Colney everyday to see what coaching tips he can pick up else learn about how best to utilise Wes Hoolahan.
We all do it. And I’m no different. But we should sometimes remember that whilst we do it for fun, the opinions and knowledge that matters belongs to Adams and his coaching team and trust them to get on with it.
Our performances this season put me in mind of our having just bought a brand new car and driven out of the showroom and on to the open road for the first time. It looked so damned good, stood there, in the sunshine, surrounded by pot plants and posters of cars driving through parched deserts else speeding along a deserted beach, sand and surf thrown up in its wake. Then there’s that new car smell and, damn him, the beguiling patter of the salesman.
That car was our football club in the summer. New, shiny and shown off to the world for the first time in Italy, land of the Ferrari. We looked damned good – new strip, new players and a half decent price secured for some of our not quite ran in second-hand models. Look at that new engine, all power and reliability-imported, at great cost from Belgium, designed to complement our new forward units, British made – not so glamorous and sexy admittedly as the expensive continental models, but you know what you are getting with the British model. And besides, the foreign ones either keep breaking down or are notoriously unreliable just when you need them to deliver the most.
And though it looks and feels great when you drive it off the forecourt for the first time, there are always going to be little adjustments to make, else minor repairs and tweaks to allow for in those first few months. It’s inevitable with anything new, shiny-and untested; annoying and frustrating-yes. But worth it in the long term? Absolutely yes. Because that is when it will start to deliver – in all conditions, terrains and circumstances.
Just as we will. Once Neil and his team have allowed for and carried out their own adjustments, minor repairs and tweaks. It’s a learning process, one you can only immerse yourself in once you’re out on the road.
And let’s face it, seven or so weeks in and the first couple of thousand of miles or so on the clock and we’re top of the table with the joint best number of wins so far with the most goals scored whilst our defence, far from its best, is still the fourth best in the division.
Just think how good we might turn out to be once Neil and team really have us up and running: because there is a lot more to come from this team yet.
A lot more as even those who witnessed the Charlton and Rotherham games will attest.
Cliché or not, patience is a virtue. Not a particularly well understood or tolerated one in football admittedly, but there you go. But is it, in our case, one worth having? Unquestionably so. The best, as the song goes, is most definitely to come. And how appropriate, how satisfying would it be if we were to start the sort of winning run that shows it by doing so at Fulham, our latter day nemesis club, on Saturday week?
I’m currently busy writing another book and, in the process of checking up some stats, needed to find out which Canary has made the most appearances in the FA Cup for the club.
The answer, unsurprisingly, is Ron Ashman who represented us 56 times in the competition.
That’s some record, one I am confident will never be broken for as long as there is a professional football club in Norwich.
Ron first appeared for us in the FA Cup back on November 27, 1948, scoring the only goal – and his only goal for the club in all of those FA Cup appearances. In the process as we saw off non-league Wellington Town 1-0.
Fifty six games and nearly fifteen and a half years later, Ron tasted FA Cup football for the last time as we exited the competition at the quarter final stage as Leicester City beat us 2-0 at Carrow Road in front of a crowd of 43,984 in March 1963. Another record which will probably never be broken.
Fifty-six games for us. In one competition. The current Norwich City squad – one that comprises 35 players – contains only nine who have made more appearance than that in their entire Norwich City careers so far, with Wes Hoolahan currently our record FA Cup appearance holder with nine appearances.
Can’t see Wes breaking Ron’s record somehow. Or anyone.
To put Ashman’s record into some sort of context, let’s assume it was equalled in our FA Cup third-round replay defeat at Fulham last season; that our rather lame 3-0 defeat did, at least, give us the chance to salute the man who, in playing, had equalled Ashman’s record of 56 games played for the Canaries in the FA Cup.
When, therefore, would his first game for us in the competition have been?
Assuming he played in every FA Cup game that the club played in (IE Didn’t miss any due to injury or suspension) then his Canary debut in the competition would have been the 1989 semi-final defeat to Everton.
He would have been teammates, and shared dressing room banter, with the likes of Andy Linighan, Ian Crook and Ruel Fox.
A little under a quarter of a century later therefore, he would have still been there, lining up alongside current players like Russell Martin, Josh Murphy and David Fox.
Had he (like Murphy) made his FA Cup debut at the tender age of 18 in that semi-final against Everton, he would have taken to the field at Craven Cottage this January when he was 43; thus, in doing so, setting another record as the Canaries oldest ever player to take to the pitch in a competitive game.
Now that would not only be some record, he would have been one hell of a player to have lasted that long!
Ron Ashman was one hell of a player. No question, no debate.
And his 56 games for the club in the competition says a lot about his capability and durability as a Norwich City player.
It also says a lot about our lack of prowess in the competition in the last quarter of a century or so. Still, maybe we’ll put that right this year.
Stories about modern day players’ lack of responsibility and self discipline never go away. Indeed, the only thing that should really be considered surprising about any and all revelations about training ground bust ups, on-field disagreements and assorted holiday high jinks is that we remain surprised that they happen at all.
Wasn’t always the case, at least not with Norwich City defender Joe Hannah, who made 427 appearances for the club from 1921 through to 1935.
He was so disappointed with one of his performance during one of those games for the club that he decided to administer some personal self discipline immediately after the game by walking home from the ground – home being in Sheringham – a not so gentle stroll of around 25 miles.
Can’t see Mario Balotelli walking home after a Liverpool game somehow. Though he might get one of his entourage to do it for him.