Much like a Cadbury’s Creme Egg, we all consume the annual release of the fixtures in different ways.
Some fans are largely indifferent, justifiably apathetic towards what can be perceived as a futile and premature attempt to rouse anticipation for the upcoming season.
Some fans keep a watchful eye, not overly concerned but keen to look out for the odd away day opportunity or what the idiosyncratically English footballing festivities may hold.
And then there are fans like me. Fans who view the announcement not so much a mere set of dates but as a calendar that will shape the next year of their lives, a bible of numbers, kick-off times and oppositions to be kept closely at hand for the following ten months.
In many ways, the excitement engendered by it exceeds that of the first day of the season.
And this isn’t just any old season. This is a Premier League season for Norwich City, a season where we can all reasonably believe we have a chance of not just staying up but doing so with comfort and a sense of verve, style and enterprise.
Such has been the intoxicating nature of Farkeball, navigating our club to the Promised Land in a Magical Mystery Tour of a season that will now see us grace the very city where those lyrics emerged. It has restored our faith, consolidated our trust, united a city in yellow and green fervour that became so tangible on that magnificent May morning outside City Hall.
And tomorrow at 9am, it all begins once again. Trains will be booked, plans will be arranged, weekends away organised and tickets and hotels set to be sourced. This is the start of our Premier League journey, initiating a seven-week ticking time bomb that will detonate at one of 20 top-flight grounds on August 10.
Who do we want first? That’s entirely subjective. Naturally, rationale dictates a winnable start at Carrow Road, a Sheffield United – that would be tasty – a Burnley – hardly one to whet the appetite – or a Southampton, a Bournemouth or a Brighton.
But then the romantic Norwich fan inside me craves a big away trip somewhere. The prospect of 3000 City fans descending on the Emirates, Old Trafford or Anfield on a sunbaked August day seems irresistible, creating a sea of yellow behind the goal and reminding other supporters, who are dismissive of our fanbase, that we do do things properly down in NR1.
What I believe is important is that we somehow avoid a perilous August. A tough start that goes badly could – and I’m not saying it definitely will – suppress that joyous unity and spirit that characterised last season, creating anxieties and opening up divisions that will be nothing but detrimental going forward.
I don’t think that will happen. The summer has been a profitable one so far for City both footballing-wise and beyond, with key assets renewing contracts and all at the club appearing merry. Patrick Roberts has signed. Onel Hernandez has got married. Teemu Pukki is still scoring. Kenny McLean still drinking? Quite possibly.
Whatever they are doing on Thursday morning, it will be impossible for these players to resist at least a cursory glance at the news that emerges from Premier League HQ. Players like Hernandez, Tom Trybull, Marco Stiepermann and Mario Vrancic would have dreamt about trips to the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal for years, the culmination of footballing journeys that have seen them evolve into quality players.
And they will get their chance to flourish. What this summer has shown more than anything is that the Webber-Farke axis is committed to giving those who got us here an opportunity at the highest level; an admirable strategy that I’m sure any sensible fan would agree with.
Of course, reinforcements will be recruited. However, what that appears likely to constitute is a mere three or four new faces, bringing depth to particular areas – I’d like to see a full-back, a defensive midfielder and striker – where it may have previously been lacking.
But for now, all attention turns to Thursday morning. Who will it be on August 10? What about over Christmas? Away days in the snow or the home comforts of Carrow Road? Most importantly of all – what about the run in?
There’s not long left to wait. While our destiny remains uncertain, one thing is for sure: I can’t wait.
Jim Davies says
According to the Sun, a leak has suggested Spurs away, with a 12.30 kick off, on the first Saturday, live on Sky.
Bummer! I’ll be taking off for a week in Portugal at 12.00!
Alex B says
Like you the anticipation is bubbling to the surface.
The Mirror and some sites are already with supposed leaks.
Saturday 10th 12-30
Spurs v Norwich on Sky
Burnley v Liverpool BT sports
Villa v Leicester
Man U v Brighton Sky 16-30
Wolves v Man C Sky 20-00
If these are true then there has been a leak at the FA and Sky/ BT
Not long to wait till the fill list is out then we can all have a moan.
Onwards and upwards
Will – I think the new membership scheme is already testing the “joyous unity and spirit” that you describe. Unfortunately the total love between fans and “the club” is bound to be tested now, after last season’s perfection . When/if the losses on the pitch start happening Webber’s insistence that “we have no money for players” line may come under harsher scrutiny too.
martin penney says
I too am struggling to get my head around the finer points of the changes to the membership scheme.
I’ve got three nailed-on away fixtures where I’ll be sitting with home-supporting mates in the “wrong end” as in Arsenal, Spurs and Brighton and I doubt I’ll be able to make many (if any) more so it doesn’t affect me too much – friends will get me the tickets for those from their end anyway.
But the points I’d pick up from Michael Bailey’s informative article in the EDP this morning are:
What happened to the away ST?
Why as an ST holder for over 30 years am I now paying less than three quid per match less than a casual ticket purchaser?
And if I were able to go away on a regular basis it seems that I would have to have a membership as well as an ST as I’ve got barely any points!
No sour grapes from me but I’d well understand if there were from others.
I think we can take it as a possible (as in yet to be proven) misjudgement on the part of the Club, but most hopefully an isolated one.
Alex B says
Cities last 5 starts in the Premiership
2015/16 – Norwich 1-3 Crystal Palace
2013/14 – Norwich 2-2 Everton
2012/13 – Fulham 5-0 Norwich City
2011/12 – Wigan Athletic 0-2 Norwich City
2004/05 – Norwich City 1-1 Crystal Palace
Not that great but things can only get better so they say
Dan Rear says
The 2011-12 Wigan match ended 1-1 didn’t it Alex? Wes scored for us as I recall
Colin M says
We will play 19 teams home and away. All with have a story and a significance. Burnley away will be as important for DF as Man City at Carrow Road.
Let’s not fall out over ticketing and membership no system is fair for all. Fans of the club are just as important whether they can go to games or not. I was very ill in last month of last season Reading at home being my last game makes me no less a supporter.
Enjoy the ride and TV /radio coverage if unable to go.
Don Harold says
Palace, Brighton and Burnley seem to be slow starters (I haven’t researched this-if the future PM can’t be bothered with facts neither can I). So any of these away early would be good.