What happened at Rotherham wasn’t entirely Lewis Grabban’s fault. I have to take some of the blame as well.
Here’s the thing.
It was our son’s under-8s cup final on Saturday morning, and I offered the football gods a deal: if his team could lift the trophy, I would accept City not winning in the afternoon.
It’s not the faust time I’ve offered an illicit pact of this kind. (Er, I mean first.) But it’s one of the rare occasions when the agreement’s been carried out.
Harry’s team won 3-2, calmly and effectively withstanding the pressure they were under in the last five minutes – in contrast to City a few hours later.
Now, this may seem disloyal of me, but hear me out. I figured that we’d be likely to end up in the play-offs anyway; after all, it looks like winning the last two games still wouldn’t have been enough to secure automatic promotion.
This being the case, it’s better to accept a place in the play-offs as early as possible. It would have been far worse to be clinging on to a sliver of hope in the final game against Fulham and suffer the disappointment then.
As it is, the players now have plenty of time to prepare mentally for the challenge of the extra games ahead.
Would I have made the deal with the gods if victory at Rotherham would have guaranteed promotion? Hmm, that’s a difficult one. I really don’t know.
I can’t say for certain that I wouldn’t, having seen the joy on Harry’s face when his team won. That’s a moment that will stay with him, and with me, for life. And as I’ve argued several times in this column over the years, memorable moments are what ultimately matter in football.
I’m really hoping that we’ll all have such a moment in a few weeks’ time, in the form of a trip to Wembley. Watching Norwich play there is long, long overdue – and I don’t just mean because it’s thirty years since our last Wembley appearance.
Here’s a question for you. Since the new Wembley Stadium opened in 2007, how many of the 92 teams currently in the Premier and Football Leagues have played there?
Go on, have a think. I’ll give you a bit of time.
OK, what do you reckon? Twenty? Thirty? It couldn’t be as many as forty, could it?
The answer, which surprised me when I worked it out, is sixty-six. And that doesn’t include three teams (Grimsby, Stockport and Torquay) who have since dropped out of the Football League.
Sixty-six. In other words, more than two-thirds of the clubs in the top four divisions have played at Wembley in the last seven years. And we’re in the minority who haven’t.
That’s something that really needs to be corrected.
This would be a fitting year to do it, being the 30th anniversary of the Milk Cup win. And as things stand, there’s the possibility that we could commemorate that triumph in a similar fashion: beating Ipswich over two legs of a semi-final before meeting a team in red and white from the north-east.
Do the football gods have such a neat parallel arranged? We can’t count on it. Sometimes they don’t follow the script everyone’s anticipated – something Steven Gerrard will no doubt reflect on when he’s sitting at home reading his birthday cards on FA Cup final day.
And sometimes they add a mischievous twist to proceedings, as in 2009 when City marked the 50th anniversary of reaching the FA Cup semi-final as a third-tier club, not by embarking on another cup run but by becoming a third-tier club again.
Whatever the gods have in store for us over the next few weeks, I’m feeling more excited than fearful at the moment.
If we go up, fantastic.
If we don’t, we’ll still have the prospect of Alex Neil taking on the Championship over a full season. Any squad departures should be compensated for by his ability to develop young players, demonstrated during his time at Hamilton.
And I think the effect of the reduction in parachute payments is generally overstated; none of the other clubs in the current top six has enjoyed the financial benefit this season.
Besides, moving from the first slot on the Football League Show to the last on Match of the Day would only save us about ten minutes on a Saturday night.
As I impressed upon Harry before his cup final – unnecessarily, as it turned out – if things don’t go the way you want, it’s not the end of the world.
There’s always another chapter.
If not another column.
Given that this is Kevin’s final MyFootballWriter piece, I would just like to offer a heart-felt thanks to him for his loyalty and efforts over the last nine years – nine years, is that right? Summer of 2006; so, yes, nine years… Jeez.
Kevin was one of the very first people I contacted with regard to writing a regular column here on MFW; his thought-provoking, dark-humoured columns have never disappointed and epitomised what I always wanted to deliver on here – a good, honest, literary read about all things Norwich City offering a quality of footballing prose to mark us out from the online crowd.
Kevin made us stand out in that regard. I can only thank him again – and wish him all the very best for whatever is next.