In the absence of some proper pundits, players, ex-players, or folk who know lots about football, I was asked to guest on the week’s Scrimmage.
Minus a WrestleMania bound Rob Butler, Chris Goreham was joined by BBC Sport Online’s Chris Osborne and together they expertly whizzed through BBC Radio Norfolk’s flagship footie fanzine. For my part, I mumbled, stuttered, coughed a few times and made a lame joke about Mick McCarthy and Countryfile (which is not worth repeating).
But it was good fun, and while sitting there with two City supporting BBC professionals it occured to me how well we, as Norwich fans, are served by our local radio compared to many others.
Given the geographical location of the Fine City we share our coverage only with clubs outside the football league and are served by a team who not only cover the Canaries in a professional capacity but who also support them. I’m not sure too many others can say the same.
As a result their coverage can be Canary-centric. Certainly Ipswich fans – in the aftermath of Derby Day – expressed their envy at the passionate and unashamedly partisan coverage on ‘Norfolk’, particularly with regard to post-match comment.
Our friends from Suffolk have long bemoaned the monotone style of their own ‘Chris Goreham’ – one Brenner Woolley – even before his on air gaff, in which he described the Town fans as ‘the great unwashed‘. As an apparent Blackburn fan it seems Woolley takes said BBC impartiality all too literally for the liking of many south of the border.
For all the quirks of Canary Call, there is much to be admired about the way those in The Forum disseminate our daily dose of news from Colney and bring us coverage of the Canaries.
Another topic covered on the Scrimmage, with the club celebrating the 30th anniversary, was ‘that’ day at Wembley in March 1985.
My own memories of that day – prised out my Master Goreham – were skewed by an oddly torturous coach journey to north west London that took us from Halesworth (yes, it is the *wrong* side of the border) via the A12, M25, the North Circular and the mean streets of Hendon and Wood Green.
As a result, there was little time to soak up the famous pre-match atmosphere or participate in the much fabled kick-about with Sunderland fans in the car park, but instead it was almost straight in to Wembley itself and into one of the lower pens.
I was perfectly situated for what was to follow, given that we were situated right behind the goal in which Gordon Chisholm deflected Asa Hartford’s shot, but the first thing that struck me when entering the Wembley terraces was that to our left was a pen containing solely Sunderland fans – slap bang in the middle of the Norwich end.
To this day I have no idea why that was the case and it truth it still irks a tiny bit that on an occasion when City could have probably sold their allocation of tickets twice over it appeared Sunderland had been allocated a ‘Norwich’ pen. If anyone knows how or why please feel free to enlighten me.
The game itself was notable only for its lack of quality and it was somehow appropriate that it was won by the scruffiest of scruffy goals, but in a final… who cares. The fact that Clive Walker chose to drag his penalty wide – awarded due to the least subtle handball of all time by Dennis van Wijk – was also of no consequence on a day when it was all about winning.
The noise from the yellow and green masses on the day sounded deafening to a teenager (yes, I was once even though my kids refuse to believe it) but those who watched on TV were convinced there were only Sunderland fans in the stadium, and I can vividly recall a thunderous noise from the Mackems as Dave Watson lifted the trophy.
I can also recall a mate yelling at the top of his voice “we’re in Europe!”, which – courtesy of events in Heysel – was a dream that was to be cruelly dashed.
But the joyous parade of the trophy in front of the Yellow Army will stay with me forever, so too the sight of Mick Channon giving Louie Donowa a lesson in post-match celebration etiquette. Priceless.
The route back to Suffolk (yes, I know…) was rather less torturous, far more celebratory and ultimately culminated in a lock-in at the local, albeit one that was curtailed by two Ipswich supporting policemen (at least I convinced myself they were).
Typically it is a day that will live forever in the mind and for those present is guaranteed to bring a lump to the throat.
The decision of Chuba Akpom to chose the City Ground ahead of Carrow Road has perplexed many. Even Dougie Freedman appeared to have conceded that Norwich was his most likely destination, following City’s victory over Forest last week.
But with a few of those in the promotion chasing pack vying for the 19 year-old’s signature it appears Arsene Wenger’s desire for his youngster to get game time has won the day. And that can be the only reason – although quite how a few games in a mid-table battle for nothingness will enhance the youngster’s career progression is anyone’s guess.
With Forest ten points adrift of sixth place with seven to play it’s almost inconceivable that they can force themselves into the reckoning and as a result could well be drifting into the realms of ‘beach’ football. A far cry from the hurly burly of a promotion battle.
But that is clearly Wenger’s prerogative and the fact Akpom hasn’t gone to a direct rival in the battle for the top six is of some comfort. So too the fact that Alex Neil appears comfortable with the existing options he has available.
Jamar Loza’s late equaliser at Huddersfield was as timely as they come and, while you can never have too many good options available, will have slightly lessened his manager’s need to bolt on another goal scorer. The fact there appears to have been no plan B if the Akpom deal didn’t happen suggests the same.
So, a little disappointing but no more than that, and more crucial was the need to extend the Graham Dorrans deal to beyond the play-off final – which duly happened. The Scot, after a slowish start due mainly due a lack of match fitness, has impressed of late and certainly adds quality to the midfield.
A few have commented on their indifference to the West Brom player and how they have no desire for City to sign him permanently, but I couldn’t disagree more. I really hope he stays.