There are not too many events that could usurp a first Norwich City hat-trick but, on a day when Gary Hooper hit his first treble for the club, pride of place was arguably snatched from him by two gentlemen on Canary Call.
While Hooper was departing Carrow Road with the match ball and a warm glow the rest of us were being treated to a comedic two-minute microcosm of today’s Yellow Army.
In one corner was Peter, a self-confessed realist, whose raison d’être appeared to be keeping the feet of Rob Butler and Adrian Forbes on the ground; both accused of getting hopelessly ‘carried away’ by a 4-0 home win. He also had the hump because Blackpool were so ‘hopeless’.
In the other was Dale who, apart from being on the verge of taking his neighbour’s dog for a walk, phoned in to take issue with the miserablists and those who couldn’t find any joy in a thumping home win. He also likes speedway.
With the help of Butler’s prodding they locked horns in the radio equivalent of two rutting stags – with Norfok accents.
But, great entertainment aside, it did offer an intriguing snapshot of the continuing division in City’s support. Peter wasn’t alone. Despite a thumping win against some admittedly poor Tangerines there was still an underlying rumble of discontentment among those who thought four should have been a lot more.
And it could have been more, probably should have been.
Yet all too often this season City’s inconsistency has been borne out by lack lustre showings against those they should beat. Birmingham, Charlton, Rotherham and Reading, just to name four, all departed the Fine City with a point or three when, on the Peter scale, they were there to be beaten.
In truth, despite Blackpool’s travails this season, if I’d been offered a 1-0 win pre-match I’d have taken it. And so, to have sent them back to Lancashire with a four-goal thumping had to be a good thing didn’t it?
It wasn’t perfect of course. If it had been Peter would have been phoning Canary Call to bemoan the fact it was ‘only eight’, and there did appear to be a feeling of going through the motions in the second-half, but by then the game was won and with the fixtures coming thick and fast it made sense to keep a little in reserve.
And if you can’t find any joy in a 4-0 win then it really is time to think long and hard if football is your game.
The timely return to scoring form of Hooper is certainly a massive plus as we approach crunch time and the quality of all three goals confirmed that he is indeed the most natural finisher at the club. When others tighten up in front of goal the ex-Celtic man is at his most relaxed, and that bodes well.
His all-round game has also upped a notch or two in the last month. His ability to operate just off the the guy ‘up top’, be it either Cameron Jerome or Lewis Grabban, has come into its own of late and his first touch is at times exquisite (off the back of a hat-trick I’m happy to overlook him giving the ball away twice in dangerous areas in the first-half).
One thing missing from yesterday’s performance was a goal for the hard working Grabban. With Jerome’s hamstrings being nursed gently and Kyle Lafferty off on a Turkish sabbatical, the ex-Bournemouth man has been offered a new lease of life and it’s good to see him straining every sinew to try and take it.
If one of those first-half chances had gone in it would have been just reward for an afternoon of real graft. That it didn’t happen was unfortunate but more of the same and I’m convinced the rewards will follow. The return of the Grabban of August and September would be most welcome right now.
With a trip to the Valley just two days hence, the thoughts of Alex Neil on his next team selection will be fascinating. With Nathan Redmond, Jonny Howson and Wes at times making up a front five yesterday, I do wonder if to go ‘same again’ would leave City a little exposed defensively.
Against Blackpool and with the backing of a Carrow Road crowd it worked. But against Charlton, who are looking to do the double over City, Neil may opt for the ‘horses for courses’ approach and bring back Alex Tettey to offer additional protection to the back-four. We’ll see.
Something else strange happened yesterday. If you were there you would have witnessed it with your own eyes.
With around ten minutes remaining an official announcement came over the River End public-address system, announcing that at the end of the game supporters in the lower tier would have to leave the ground via the perimeter of the pitch. It seemed straightforward enough, the key phrase being ‘at the end of the game’.
But no. For a reason I’m unable to fathom seemingly thousands took it as their cue to depart. In an instant the gangways were full of folk clambering and jostling for the exits.
Perhaps my hearing is on its way out, and I missed the bit about nuclear fallout, but I’m glad I stayed and watched Nathan Redmond rattle one into the ‘postage stamp’. Wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
As a bona fide member of a divided Yellow Army it is good to occasionally comment on something positive. And yesterday’s non-treatment of Martin Olsson was one such event. Some messageboards were calling for the Swede to be given a rough ride for his apparent, but failed, desire to move away from Carrow Road.
As it transpired I heard not even the faintest whiff of a boo, which was great.
It’s easy to forget that players, with the odd exception, are nothing more than employees of the club. While Darren Huckerby may have fallen in love with the club and Norfolk itself, most are just passing through on their career path, and will chose to depart if or when a better offer comes along.
Olsson is no different and, for what it’s worth, I thought he did a decent job yesterday and showed a good appetite.
In the words of Mr Grace…