Tomorrow night I’ll be sitting in what I will always know as the Jarrold Stand. It will be my first game of the season. My first time seeing Daniel Farke’s revamped team.
I’ll be making the 170 plus mile journey up to Norfolk for a cup game – not against Chelsea, Manchester United or Arsenal. No, this game is against Swindon Town, a team who suffered relegation last season to League Two.
You may ask, why travel the distance and sit in a car for so long for that game? The fact City decided to open only the lower tiers and price the game the exact same as the Brighton friendly may suggest it’s not exactly going to be a masterpiece. Whilst Farke may have chosen to opt to play a weakened team, though he has since denied this will happen.
For me, the answer is quite simple: I’ll be making that 170 plus mile journey up to Norfolk for a cup game from Swindon.
They are my hometown club. They’ve experienced their own lot of rollercoasters and dramas over the seasons – from the Paolo Di Canio era to their “almosts”, though one of those “almosts” was administration.
They’re the reason for my soft spot for the lower leagues and issues affecting them – they’re the reason I will probably have a different opinion to City fans on the Checkatrade trophy. But at the same time, they have left me feeling like a Wikipedia page on repeat if you ever mention the names, Alex Pritchard and Louis Thompson.
Norwich City is my club, my primary team, my first team. My earliest memories are of them – whether that be the trips to Norfolk or watching City beat Manchester United in 2005 on tv when City was simply “Dad’s team”.
Swindon Town is my second team. For some people, that thought doesn’t exist – you can only have one team. For others, you can have a team in England and one international team. Ask another group of fans, the word “glory-grabbers” may come to mind. But I think I’m doing quite well for supporting two teams – glory comes once in a while, drama comes every other season but love for the game becomes stronger every single game because of it.
Thankfully, when one club sits comfortably in the upper tiers of English football, the other switches between League One and Two, problems are kept to a minimum. 2009/10 was the exception.
And though they’re separated by 174 miles to be exact, there’s a nice little connection between the two clubs – former Canary Lee Power owns the Wiltshire club, several former City players have signed for Swindon and vice versa, whilst Swindon’s loan system has meant seeing the likes of Jacob Murphy and Harry Toffolo at the beginning of their careers.
If that wasn’t all, the 2014/15 season saw both sets of fans make it to Wembley in the Playoffs, though the West side only saw one win that Bank Holiday weekend. Whilst Swindon will be sporting an interesting green and white second kit for their League Two campaign this season.
It was all going well until the Carabao draw.
So what should a Norwich City fan who will be making their way to Carrow Road expect of the game?
As with any cup game, the unexpected. Though current standings indicate the Canaries should have an easy win, it’s never guaranteed in the cup.
Town will also hope to offer up a few surprises too. If you thought Norwich entered the season with uncertainty with an overhaul of players and a new manager, I introduce you to Swindon Town, where it feels like the norm.
Relying on loans from Premier League clubs in previous seasons, the club has consistently entered seasons with uncertainty as to whether their team can live up to the task.
By May, ten out of contract players left, seven loanees returned to their parent clubs, and Swindon were manager-less.
Now their new boss David Flitcroft has formed a squad of 21 players. He’s complimented a traditional Swindon-style team of young players with experienced heads and they’ve started the season with a 2-1 victory on the opening day against Carlisle United, debuting seven players.
They travel to Norfolk with hope for an upset – it won’t be the first time it’s happened for the club – whilst Norwich will be hoping to extend their past runs in the League Cup, though it’ll heavily rely on how City line up.
On Tuesday, I’ll be making the 174 mile journey to Norfolk from Swindon. I’ll be supporting City – they’re my first team after all.
But at the same time, when both teams line-up and the referee’s whistle goes at 7.45pm, all I can say is “may the best team win”.