This piece presupposes two things.
Firstly, that you are a Norwich supporter (we do get the occasional ‘tourist’ from other clubs).
Secondly, and as a direct result, that you have a deep-rooted emotional attachment to our football club.
An attachment which is often tested by events both on and off the pitch and which is also wholly irrational when you consider that it’s fundamentally based upon 22 blokes kicking a ball around a pitch.
But assuming all that’s true, what exactly do you expect from being a supporter of Norwich City Football Club?
For me, it boils down to three things:
1) I want us to be successful
2) I want to be entertained
3) I want to feel valued
Whilst I can only speak for myself, in the midst of all the arguments, the talk of protests and the subsequent condemnation of those protests, I suspect that basically we all want those same things?
The contention comes from our own personal definitions of success, entertainment and value and more importantly the extent to which we feel the club is delivering against them.
So let’s explore each one…
It’s been said that ‘life is not a game that you can win’ because there will always be someone with more.
More success – more happiness – more possessions.
Football on the other hand is a game you definitely can win – each time you go out on the pitch in fact. After all, theoretically you could win every match, every season and the world would be a better place.
However just like life, there will always be those with more. More money, more points, more trophies, more supporters, more seats in their stadium or even more stars over their badge (for what that’s worth).
All these things get cited during the endless arguments between rival fans about who supports the bigger and better club.
We all create our own criteria for what constitutes success and inevitably it tends to be based on comparison – either comparison to previous years or comparison to other clubs – but ultimately comparison to what we as individuals expect.
That’s what lies at the heart of most disagreements and leads to all those discussions that are aimed at altering each other’s perspectives and expectations.
You know the ones:
“It’s unrealistic for a club like City to pay those wages”
“There’s no way we should settle for just the play-offs”
All just a reflection of different expectations, backed up by different viewpoints.
But most importantly, neither side is wrong. It’s simply a matter of opinion and perspective and we would all do well to remember that.
Let’s assume that we all agreed (now there’s a thought) that success for City is to become an ‘established’ Premier League side; consistently finishing mid-table; neither flirting with relegation nor challenging for a place in Europe.
What price would you put on that success in terms of sacrificing entertainment?
Would you be willing to watch City grind out results in the manner served up by West Brom and Tony Pulis?
Maybe for a couple of seasons – but year after year?
It’s been a long time since City have had the supposed comfort of closing out a season without either a promotion or relegation battle and facing those ‘six-pointers’ that bring with them moments of sheer ecstasy or abject misery.
But surely that’s why we go to matches; to experience those emotions and moments of high drama and to share that experience and atmosphere with 27,000 others?
However that atmosphere can only be created by events on the pitch and their wider context. If you start watching week after week of meaningless fixtures with drab football, you may quickly find yourself sat amid a bank of empty seats.
Just ask any Ipswich fan.
As a supporter, I have never really considered myself to be a customer of the football club – not in the traditional sense of the word.
It’s true that over the years, I have spent a small fortune on tickets, travel and all sorts of yellow and green merchandise but the investment we make with the club goes way beyond time and money. It’s the emotional investment that lies at the heart of that deep-rooted attachment highlighted at the start of this piece.
Simply put, we love our club.
And we need to feel that it’s not unrequited; that the club recognises our true value as fans rather than just merely customers or simply another source of income.
Because as fans, we don’t really have the option of exercising the ultimate consumer right of taking our custom elsewhere and looking for a better deal.
So if you don’t feel you are getting value or being valued, what else can you do apart from getting frustrated?
And there is a lot of frustration amongst the supporters right now.
Frustration due to being relegated; frustration over not signing strikers; frustration at what we’re seeing on the pitch, and even frustration aimed at other fan’s frustration.
Who knows how all of that will manifest itself, or whether we’ll see protests outside the ground over the coming weeks?
Personally, I have no issue with those who may choose to do so.
After all, we all have our own expectations and perspectives. If you felt that the club was not delivering against your own criteria for success, entertainment or value, then surely it’s right to express that rather than merely accept it?
Steve won’t be part of the angry mob wielding a pitchfork and burning torch but will be posting on Twitter @stevocook