It will be interesting to see how history recalls today’s events – once the dust finally starts to settle on, arguably, the greatest day in the history of Norwich City Football Club.
There have, clearly, been other greats days; there has, of course, already been one win at Wembley.
But my hunch would be that today will come to over-shadow anything that has gone before.
That’s easy to write in the heat of the moment.
But even when you pause for breath and try to put a little distance between yourself and the events of the last 24 hours, you still come back to the same conclusion. That the greatest day in the club’s history has just unfolded.
The sheer size of the prize on offer clearly plays a part in such thoughts.
Should Norwich come to retain their Premier League status this time next year and that 2-0 success will send the reported £120 million figure soaring obscenely beyond the £200 million mark.
Given the Canaries are already in the rudest of financial health, it is hard to imagine a scenario where they will ever have to field a threatening phone call from the bank manager again.
But that is only part of the story. And Norwich City Football Club has always been about more than a balance sheet.
For 40,000 City supporters, it is a day that they can now treasure for the rest of their lives. Not just for the eventual outcome, but for the whole manner in which it was achieved.
They walked it.
Premier League promotion was achieved not by a whisker, but by a country mile – certainly by the standards of shooting-themselves-in-the-footery that the Canaries invariably offer up to their long-suffering supporters.
How much Middlesbrough’s delayed arrival played into Alex Neil’s hands will be something for Teesside to ponder. But there is no doubt that Norwich were ‘at it’ from the first whistle.
They were, after all, first to hit the bar – albeit by a mere 30 seconds.
And having gone that goal up, they didn’t do an Ipswich and concede a leveller five minutes later. The resolve – both physical and mental – was there to push on again; to squeeze that little bit harder now they had the game by the scruff of the neck.
For that you have to thank the hand, the voice and/or the stare of Alex Neil.
He, more than any one individual, lifts the day into something way beyond the ordinary.
Which, again, plays into this prospect of this being: ‘The greatest ever…’
The fear always was that Norwich would start slow; stutter and struggle in the game’s crucial opening exchanges.
Bar the one volley against the bar, City took to the occasion like the proverbial duck to Wembley water and in the 33-year-old Scot – besuited for just the length of time it took to walk out of the tunnel – they found their perfect motivator.
He had that side – that squad – set up to a tee. They barely budged once they were two goals to the good. His substitutions were timely and precise; each new arrival knew what they needed to do to see this out.
They carried out the manager’s instructions to the letter. If Neil ever had any doubt as to how events over the last three weeks would unfold, he never showed it. It has been something of a master-class from a man put on this Earth to manage.
Further challenges will await. But the way the club have – relatively – sailed through a double derby date and now a Wembley final with all that lay at stake suggests Norwich already have one of their ‘greatest’ at the helm.
That said, it would be churlish not to mention two of his predecessors whose hands were also at work; Nathan Redmond and Sebastien Bassong owe their arrival to Chris Hughton; Cameron Jerome to Neil Adams.
Even if there is an ‘I’ in the name ‘Alex Neil’, I would suspect he would be the first to acknowledge the part others have played in driving the Norfolk club back into the Promised Land at the first attempt.
One final thought as a long night of celebration starts.
There is a very old adage about leaving the stage whilst you are on top; go out on an all-time high.
In the case of the club’s majority shareholders – Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones – today must be the sweetest of occasions; everything and more for a club that they have poured their heart, soul and smallish fortune into over the last 20 years.
The same argument can – and should – be made for their fellow director Michael Foulger. He, like them, has been there and back to the brink; in and out of the supporter mincer.
How – or rather to whom – the baton passes on is one of the great question marks that hangs over Norwich City Football Club. But the three, more than anyone, deserve a moment in the sun, free from fresh trial and tribulation – safe in the knowledge now that they have safely delivered the club back into the English Premier League and all on a financial footing that, should, hold the club in good stead for a generation to come.
They don’t now need to flog their beloved Canaries to the highest bidder; the coffers are awash with Sky and BT cash.
Now the baton can pass to someone who truly cares. The money isn’t an issue; their heart is.
And that alone is an extraordinary legacy for one couple and one fellow director to bequeath one football club in the Age of Mike Ashley.