Manchester United 1 – Norwich City 2
Just typing the score line produces a grin on my face that wouldn’t look out of place on the Cheshire cat following a deep breath of laughing gas.
Even allowing for my deep-rooted bias, I think everyone of a Yellow and Green persuasion deserved that one. Having been agonisingly close to a couple of notable wins recently, it’s about time the footballing gods finally gave us a break.
I had been offered the chance to watch the game from an Old Trafford executive box with a group of Manchester United ‘supporters’. I think they reasoned that it would be much more fun having someone to laugh and point at whilst they watched their team stroll to the obligatory 4-0 victory.
The prospect of being abused by a bunch of smug glory hunters didn’t hold much appeal but my decision to decline the offer was based on starting my family Christmas holiday by actually being with my family. The two kind of go hand in hand after all.
I didn’t really fancy the chances of trying to convince Mrs C that spending the day with my ‘NCFC family’ constituted quality family time. Or that staring at a dodgy online feed on my computer or hiding away in the company of Messrs Goreham and Butler qualified either.
So I followed the game via Twitter.
I’ve written previously about the ‘joys’ of following a game on Ceefax and watching updated scores via a series of scrolling teletext pages
Ceefax provided scores (and scorers) but no context. No sense of which team is on top; no indication of great saves or missed chances. As I found out yesterday, Twitter provides for a wholly more immersive experience.
My Twitter timeline is predominantly Norwich City related thanks to the large numbers of the Y’Army that I follow. There are small pockets of Celtic activity, (a legacy of Adam Drury’s testimonial) interspersed with the sorts of videos you’d see on You’ve Been Framed where blokes fall off skateboards and dogs attack their own reflections in windows.
But on match days, it becomes the sole reserve of all things #NCFC.
It began in the morning with updates from those brave souls tackling the M6 and those who woke to a grey Manchester skyline having stayed up there the night before. Then there were the rallying cries from those whose first waking thought was of Norwich City and the prospects of heaping more misery on Louis Van Gaal. There’s normally a lot of optimism and goodwill displayed by the #YellowArmy first thing on a match day morning.
It doesn’t last.
2pm is when the wheels tend to fall off the ‘harmony cart’ with the announcement of the starting eleven. On Saturday however, most seemed satisfied that Alex Neil had sent out a side showing the right balance of defensive solidity and attacking intent with the presence of Wes and Redderz hinting that bus-parking was not on Sir Alex’s agenda.
As kick-off approached, photos started to appear from those sharing their views of the Theatre of Dreams. How I wished I was there (even if that meant sharing a prawn sandwich in a box with a suited stranger).
As the match got underway the issue became when and how often to refresh for updates.
In common with many football fans, I possess a wholly irrational belief that my actions directly impact on the game; a fear that if I check the score at the ‘wrong time’ it may actually influence events. I still blame myself for West Ham’s equaliser earlier this season on the basis that I couldn’t bear to listen to the injury-time commentary and switched off the radio. If I had shown the necessary resolve and stuck it out I am convinced we’d have banked the three points.
It was clear that in the opening exchanges, City were second-best and defending deeper and deeper. All the pre-match rhetoric about getting off to a quick start and not waiting until the second half to get going seemingly counting for nothing. The Twitter natives grew restless as we waited for news of the United goal that appeared inevitable.
Then in the 38th minute;
Norwich City FC @NorwichCityFC : GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLL!
My timeline exploded with unprecedented joy as countless City fans turned to Twitter to celebrate and share the love for Cameron Jerome. The miss against Everton was forgiven and forgotten in an instant as he belts the ball through De Gea.
Half-time came and went, providing a brief chance to reflect on a job well-done but with the realisation that the next 45 minutes will be (according to one tweet) squeaky-bum time. Do I occupy myself with other things to eat into those minutes or continue to follow the updates?
United pressed, Bassong defended and then;
Norwich City FC @NorwichCityFC : 55 – TWO NIL! Jerome turns provider as he slides in Tettey, who pokes it in from the edge of the box! #MUNNOR [0-2]
It’s a Christmas miracle! I found myself performing an unsightly ‘dance’ that wouldn’t look out of place in the average work’s Christmas do. Again the #YellowArmy filled my timeline with outpourings of elation but this time with a sense of genuine belief. We’re going to do the unthinkable and win at Old Trafford for the first time since 1846 or whenever it was.
The minutes ticked by with no real scares. Jonny Howson came on for Wes as we tried to shore things up and finish the job.
Norwich City FC @NorwichCityFC: 66 – Goal for Man Utd. Martial. #MUNNOR [1-2]
My heart sank and there was a collective outbreak of frustration, nerves and some of the most ‘colourful’ language you could imagine. Were we really going to have it taken away from us? Never have 24 minutes taken so long to pass. Each time I updated, there was the fear of seeing ‘2-2’ (or worse).
Four minutes of injury-time!
Watching a match you get brief respites as the ball goes out of play or gets hoofed up the pitch to alleviate the pressure. Following from a far you can only wait for the next update.
Paddy Davitt @paddyjdavitt: Massive chance for #mufc. Smalling heads wide with #ncfc stranded barely 8 yards out. Oh my
I shouted at my phone, I paced up and down the kitchen and then finally;
Michael Bailey @michaeljbailey: They’ve done it!
All of the pressure and tension instantly lifted in just three little words. I was exhausted but elated.
What a day.
The last words can only belong to one person;
cameron jerome @camjerome33: What a result today all round top performance from all the boys huge effort! Great away support #ncfc get home safe all
You can add to Steve’s next Twitter match day experience via @stevocook