The first thing I do when I get up – always very early – is to unleash the beast.
In other words entice a sleepy Patterdale Terrier from his ‘crate’, accompany him into the garden for his “ablutions” and let him doze again until it’s time for “walkies”, which is usually a far less docile affair. Especially if the squirrells are about, when he tends to disappear into the woods and reappear when he chooses.
Then I put the kettle on, switch on the laptop or the phone and browse the other NCFC-related message boards. I choose not to post on them, but I read them with avid interest.
Tuesday morning was no different. Except that one particular post on the Pink ‘Un site really tugged at my heartstrings, which were already battered following yet another disaster, aka Reading. A poster called ‘Dr Goretex’ wrote:
So pre-season I spent hundreds of pounds on full kits for my kids. As usual on away match days we sit wearing kits listening to commentary. But today both of them in tears as yet again we lose and have told me they don’t want to wear the kits again as we don’t win any more. Their friends wear Chelsea or Man City strips and laugh at them for supporting Norwich.Thanks team, thanks Alex Neil and thanks Delia for not only ruining my Boxing Day but ruining our club and robbing honest fans.
An extract from a response by ‘Beachfarmpark’ read.
Delia, husband, shareholders etc; Read Dr Goretex’s message, then read it again and again until it sinks in!! They are your future supporters (well maybe not now). It’s not just embarrassing for the kids, it’s embarrassing for everyone to wear the shirt. Have you any sense at all, and do you have any real feelings for the supporters?
And that brings me back to a time, not so long ago, when I had recently retired and often had the time to go into one of the three pubs in the village I then lived in on a quiet Monday or Tuesday lunchtime to discuss football with the Three As: Aaron the barman (Liverpool), Adam the bar manager (Chelsea) and Andy the chef (Arsenal).
It was Paul Lambert’s Premiership season, and I could talk to them on an equal footing. They were all friends anyway – I mean the banter equality existed in a strictly footballing sense. Yeah, you have Suarez, Drogba and Giroud, but look how well Holty’s doing. We (as in Chelsea at that time) want Ruddy, he’s pretty good... we’ve all had these conversations.
I no longer live there, they no longer work there. But could I enjoy that conversation now? Of course not, I’d be trying to deflect everything away from football at every opportunity because even at my age, I am embarrassed of Norwich City too. How I feel for ‘Dr Goretex’ and his family.
I took my son to a few games in the Roeder era and he simply didn’t enjoy the experience. He likes playing his tennis, which I also introduced him to because I play, and he’s a decent cricketer. But at 25, he lives in Portsmouth and looks out for City results because he was born here and Dad supports them but that is it.
If I offered him a ticket just now, he would make an excuse and refuse it. Tell him there’s a ‘freemans’ for a decent ‘metal’ band at the UEA or Waterfront and he burns rubber for 140 miles to get here (a shared interest – the music, not the rapid driving).
I took my daughter to one game in the same era. She was 28 on Christmas Day and still remembers my often black moods when I returned home from matches and decided football was not for her.
Now I cannot and will not blame Delia Smith or Glenn Roeder for my children’s relative disinterest in NCFC. All I did was what any father would do – invited them to come with me and see, hoping they might like it.
Well, they didn’t. Even if we’d won every game 5-0 I doubt that would have changed their opinions much. However, the case of ‘Dr Goretex’ differs in a significant way. Two kids listening to commentary in their kits – that’s another level.
Young children are so emotive: they choose to support or follow a club and they want that club to win every match. Us older folks realise that is an unrealistic expectation. However, when the father of two such youngsters feels the need to post in that manner I find it deeply disturbing.
Delia Smith is an expert at extolling the virtues of running NCFC as a family Club – to be owned by a family, to be kept in the family and as a bi-product to be enjoyed by supporters’ families. But my dear good woman, if your ineptitude to run the footballing side of things is effectively alienating future supporters such as the children of ‘Dr Goretex’, what are you achieving?
Cynics might say the only family to come through this process in a positive manner is your own.
Alex Neil is so past his sell-by date it is beyond belief. Yet he is kept in situ and the boardroom’s silence was only begrudgingly broken by the ill-advised Jez Moxey in-house interview. The majority of NCFC fans – including myself and I am sure most, if not all of the MFW writers – have been patient for so long. The guys at Archant likewise. But the tide hasn’t merely turned, it’s gone out.
I normally avoid the often-dubious privilege of listening to Canary Call, but I did hear it yesterday and every single caller was like-minded. Rob Butler somehow managed to find somebody prepared to join in the programme and back Alex Neil but even he (a very reasonable man by the sound of it) appeared to have changed his mind by the time he rang off.
The comments of Mark Rivers on that radio show I will make no remarks about beyond: I personally agree with him.
So, Delia, what are you going to do? And what would you say to ‘Dr Goretex’ and his children?
I am of the past, and indeed I am of the present. But is your vision of the future still valid?
It is you, and you alone. Some of us have realised that for some time. Nobody on the Board you have assembled would vote against you. If you want to leave something for future generations, you must change your track in the near future.
I do not want to join in with a largely angry Barclay singing songs against you at the Derby game, but if you do not make at least one positive change I just might.
Even if only in sympathy with the children of ‘Dr Goretex’.