There is a particular breed of contributor on Radio Norfolk’s Canary Call – those who happily share ‘their’ opinions; before conceding that they hadn’t actually been to the match.
“I thought Jerome was poor today… (because that’s basically what I heard on the commentary)”.
A few months ago when I booked a week’s holiday for mid-August, I knew I was at the mercy of an unpublished fixture list and the footballing gods.
However I never imagined that they would conspire to deprive me of the first two home games.
Wholly reliant on a ropey WiFi connection and the #YellowArmy on my Twitter timeline, I’ve been forced to follow our recent fortunes from a small Catalan town in deepest, darkest France.
As such, to pass comment on our last two matches would be the equivalent of the afore-mentioned Canary Callers who simply regurgitate second-hand opinions and analysis.
To fill the void left by Norwich City and in search of live sport, I went to a rugby match.
If Twickenham is the equivalent of Wembley, I found myself at the equivalent of Wroxham FC’s Trafford Park.
Arriving at the ‘stadium’ and taking my place in the only stand that possessed some shelter from the scorching sunshine, I surveyed the scene.
A row of faded yellow and red flags that had long since been bleached by the relentless sun, hung limply from the roof of the stand without any form of breeze to stir them.
The underlying sound of crickets chirruping was occasionally interrupted by a large man to my left in a disturbingly stained vest and lurid coloured shorts.
His gravelly utterances were accompanied by typically Gallic gesticulations; whilst his companion, an elderly woman, chain smoked her way through self-rolled cigarettes.
At their feet, some form of dog did it’s best to feign interest whilst slumped on the floor.
When the players took to the field, I noted that they outnumbered the crowd by exactly two to one (excluding the dog) and contented myself that this was proper ‘grass-roots’ stuff; albeit the lifeless yellow grass that lay sporadically across the sunbaked pitch was as sparse as Wayne Rooney’s hair.
Before kick-off, the local team’s players assembled in a line across the width of the pitch looking every inch like a gang of bandits from a spaghetti western.
All that was missing was the Ennio Morricone soundtrack, as fifteen stubbled and thick-set faces squinted through the heat haze; staring down the enemy before a shoot-out, full of menace and intent.
It didn’t work.
After fifteen minutes they were thirty-five points to nil down.
And that’s when the booing started.
It turns out that a crowd of fourteen people plus a token Englishman can make quite a noise when all they have to compete with are a load of crickets and a sleeping dog.
Each time the home team faltered and the away team scored a chorus of boos rang out led by the man with the vest.
At half-time, with the home team trailing by over sixty points, the dog wearily got up, urinated against a wall and left the stadium.
It was the most damning and yet apt review of a sporting performance that I have ever witnessed.
Having missed the Sheffield Wednesday match, I’m not sure whether the boos that greeted the final whistle were delivered with as much disdain or vigor.
After all City hadn’t been battered; they had simply failed to beat one of their promotion rivals.
However what intrigued me most was the reaction and outcry on social media; the general consensus being that in the circumstances booing was wholly out of place and inappropriate.
But if it’s inappropriate to show your dissatisfaction simply because it’s two games into the season, the question I have for all those who condemned the booing is when (if indeed ever) does it become acceptable?
After ten matches?
After twenty matches?
As with most of my colleagues on MyFootballWriter, I definitely lean towards the ‘happy clapper’ camp. I have never booed my team and the closest I ever came to showing any genuine dissatisfaction was leaving a game deep into injury time during those awful Roeder years.
That showed them!
When City’s relegation was confirmed following the home game against Watford, the playing staff received a standing ovation on their lap of honour.
Most of them, Alex Neil included, admitted to being surprised by the positive response following a season that had ended in failure and at the time, I felt proud of the Yellow Army and the collective show of togetherness.
But perhaps it reflects that we have become too accepting?
That the widely held view that ‘real supporters’ don’t boo has created an environment that is all too forgiving of the mistakes that are made?
And mistakes have been made. Otherwise we wouldn’t be facing another season in the Championship and desperately short of striking options.
The fact remains that we all have different expectations and tolerances; and we all respond differently when those expectations aren’t met.
I can safely say that whatever happens this season, I won’t boo my team, but if Alex Neil and his team don’t deliver and mount a serious promotion push there’s every chance I could find myself walking out of the stadium before the final whistle once more.
However unlike that dog at the rugby match, I’ll refrain from urinating against a wall before I go.
Stewart Lewis says
In rehearsals for an elaborately-staged opera, a horse relieved itself on the stage. The conductor, Thomas Beecham, looked up and muttered “So – not just a performer, but a critic too”.
I could boo my team, but only if I thought they weren’t really trying. Haven’t considered doing it since 2009.
Dave H says
I’m with Stewart, for me its if they don’t seem to care or try. There’s been a number of occasions in recent years where the performance level hasn’t been good enough but that in itself isn’t enough to warrant booing in my opinion. I genuinely can’t fathom why people booed after Sheffield Wednesday and I was embarrassed when I heard it.
Casually amusing myself before the serious business at noon, I came across this article, a pretty dour piece when you consider the gravity of today’s clash. Stewart Lewis’reply (comment) most amusing. Oh, Mr Cook, the Catalan area of France – deepest, darkest? Unless it’s been moved it resides on the border. Now Paris, that’s . . . . .
Thanks for your feedback Nick… Will obviously try and do better in future