As Norwich fans, we take a lot for granted – a financially secure club, a stadium overlooking our magnificent cathedral and even good football every once in a while.
But what we’ve never fully appreciated is our club’s greatest pulling power – an Argos right in the city centre.
Don’t worry though, Onel Hernandez didn’t fail to notice, and he finally got the Canaries some national media attention this week when he said the following in Norwich’s matchday programme last Friday:
“I’d never seen an Argos before in my life. I walked inside and saw the catalogue with things you can order. You can order bikes, TVs – we don’t have this in Germany. Argos has everything and I’ve never seen this in my life before. When I need something, I buy it from Argos! I live in a perfect area.”
In one moment, and without kicking a single ball, Hernandez became adored across Norfolk. His enthusiasm for Argos again reminded us that footballers aren’t robots that sleep in their football kits, but real people who get excited about finding TVs in needlessly complicated catalogues.
Of course, the Cuban would have probably never discovered Argos if it wasn’t for his down-to-earth attitude. Since the arrival of Stuart Webber, the club seem to have applied a Nice Guys Only rule when it comes to their recruitment.
Daniel Farke, for example, took a lot of flak last season. But there wasn’t one Norwich fan that didn’t want him to succeed. His politeness and gentle tone in interviews, contradicted by his passion during games, made him an incredibly easy person to get behind, despite the results.
It’s the reason there was never a substantial call for him to be removed – supporters were happy to give him time. In fact, by last October, when Norwich beat Forest away, I was surprised on my return home to find a 20-foot statue of our manager hadn’t been erected outside City Hall.
And, since his appointment, Farke has been followed to the club by Christoph Zimmermann, Tim Krul, Teemu Pukki, Mario Vrancic, Emi Buendia and a whole host of other players that are irresistibly likeable.
The promotion to the first team of Jamal Lewis, Max Aarons, Todd Cantwell and Ben Godfrey, a man who celebrates every goal like a Simeon Jackson last-minute winner, has only furthered the cause. German import or ‘one of our own’, every player oozes class.
And there are plenty of imports – 12 different nationalities all representing Norwich City, including 15 players that aren’t from the UK.
This, during a time when a Premier League manager can say ‘to hell with the rest of the world’ without repercussions, a time when EU citizens are being forced to re-apply to live in a country they’ve lived in for most of their life, and a time where men in yellow vests can freely walk the streets of London, verbally intimidating MPs for not sharing the same views on leaving the EU as them.
A country where it is suggested, on national radio, that Leeds United and Norwich being promoted to the Premier League would be bad for English football, simply because they have foreign managers.
And yet, these incidents haven’t weakened the bond between the coaches, players and fans, but rather strengthened them.
Of course, even before Webber’s arrival we still had players we loved – Wes, Alex Tettey and the brilliantly bizarre Timm Klose (a special mention must also go to Ivo Pinto – who doesn’t miss a bit of Pitch War Yellow Army?) – but they came interspersed with players who never endeared themselves to the Carrow Road crowd.
The last time Norwich were promoted, for example, there were several players City fans never warmed to. Compare Martin Olsson, Lewis Grabban and even Sebastien Bassong to Jamal Lewis, Jordan Rhodes and Timm Klose and I know who I’d rather share a pint with.
Perhaps then, the last time the Yellow Army felt so strongly about a group of players was the 2010/11 season. That side demonstrated what could happen when a squad, scraped together from all four corners of Britain, could do when they worked hard, believed in each other and had a manager they would have head-butted a hungry T-Rex for.
What Norwich City have now is similar, but this team also plays some of the most breathtaking, intricate, unstoppable football ever to grace the Championship (never mind that they can’t actually defend). And, much like their predecessors, they have an unshakeable team spirit; Farke’s multicultural Canaries have won 18 points from losing positions already this season.
What they have done to the Carrow Road atmosphere is also inspiring. Win, lose or draw, the football is glamorous, the air is filled with goodwill and, in the way only a Cuban being awestruck by Argos can be, the players are wonderfully charming, on and off the pitch.
Our country may be divided but, for the first time in eight years, our football club is not. Long live Farkelife.