Tony Dunne was a fine Irish international and full back for Manchester United. Clive Dunn was the unforgettable Lance-Corporal Jones in Dad’s Army – as in “don’t panic Mr Mainwaring – they don’t like it up ’em” – and also had a horrendous venture into the Top Ten with the song Grandad.
But today I’m concentrating on a line from the metaphysical poet John Donne who wrote in 1623 or 1624 [nobody knows exactly when for sure]: Send not to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.
Ernest Hemingway robbed that line and what’s good enough for one of my favourite 20th century authors is perfectly adequate for me.
Well the bell isn’t just tolling for us right now, it’s in serious danger of breaking free from it’s oak-beamed mountings and descending on the Carrow Road congregation with its happy clappers going 19 to the dozen.
We’re running out of escapology time.
Do I mind us losing at Bramall Lane on Saturday? Yeah but no but, really. In the great scheme of things it matters little. It was all too predictable and my chin, not being constructed from glass, has taken the blow fairly and squarely.
We simply don’t possess the craft, the quality or the ability to remain in the Premier League.
Sorry readers, we don’t.
Billy Sharp did what Billy Sharp does. And when our centre backs were nowhere near him he did it from what I will admit was an excellent cross. And that folks, as early as the 36th minute, was effectively that.
Knackered we probably were but toothless we certainly were. Nobody can say Daniel Farke didn’t try to shuffle his pack on this occasion because he surely did. But to no effect.
I’m not sour enough to object to losing to a better side. Sheffield United got the points, we didn’t, they bossed us. Fair dos.
They really are a very effective unit [key word unit], those Wilderbeests. And fair play to them.
Before I go all poetical again nobody thought at the start of this season that they would cope so much better than us with the disciplines and requirements of the Premier League.
It just goes to show what limited but judicial investment can do.
And we will see in the forthcoming summer transfer window that Sheffield United will keep every single core member of their squad, resolve their Dean Henderson issue one way or the other and consolidate at football’s top table. They might even get another season out of Billy Sharp. And they’ll add three or four incomers to help them even further in said consolidation.
Us? Well Aarons and Cantwell are nailed-on to go. Godfrey, Lewis and maybe even Pukki too I’d guess.
But that’s OK isn’t it? They’ve earned the right to move on – they’ve been excellent for us and collectively deserve to leave with our blessing if we’re being rational about it.
I wish each and every one of them all the best as we scrabble around the under-23s looking for replacements. Thanks guys you have achieved, over-achieved even, so much on our behalf and I’m sure we’re all grateful. I know I am.
We will spend zilch in the summer, of that I’m certain. Instant Premier League return? Oh my aching sides.
And if [when] Stuart Webber and Daniel Farke move on, we will truly be in the mire. Again.
John Donne wrote in the same poem: No man is an island. I really wonder if Delia and Michael have read the entire work – given Delia’s previous comments surrounding her faith and the background of Donne himself the joint majority shareholders quite possibly have.
Here it is in it’s short, poignant fullness:
No joint majority shareholder is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each follower is a piece of the football club,
A part of the main.
If a loyal supporter be washed away by the sea,
Norwich City is the less.
As well as if a prominent director were.
As well as if a Barclay friend of thine own
Or of thine friends who are regulars in the River End.
Each much-loved player’s departure diminishes me,
For I am involved in this football club.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the final whistle tolls,
It tolls for thee.
You don’t need to be Poet Laureate to relate the poem to Norwich City but I’ve ham-fistedly adapted it for you just in case.
The original John Donne work is really rather excellent and passes the test of time over some 400 years. Check it out.
Next week: my take on Monty Python’s philosophy football sketch. No, I can’t be that cruel: here it is right now.