As the prospect of seeing real, live football seems to disappear ever further from our cognisance, I thought I might pose the MFW community a question: do you miss your casual matchday mates and if so, how much?
You could [like me] sit in a Barclay rag, tag and bobtail of lifetime friends, relatively new acquaintances and a couple of mild annoyances. Or you might wander around the corner to a friend’s house and listen to Chris Goreham together on Radio Norfolk over a beer or a cup of tea.
Or you could go into solo mode and follow Archant’s matchday online with the radio softly on in the background. I know a few folks who take that approach, which is the modern equivalent of watching a Test Match on the BBC with the sound off and listening to the Test Match Special crew on said radio. It’s a great approach for cricket, but cricket only in my opinion.
I rarely pub it before a game now but if I do I’ll go into the Ribs or the Wig and have a yarn with folks I know. I might even walk as far as Morrisons with one or two of them but then it’s straight into the store for me for essential pre and post match supplies [okay cigars for later and a bottle of naughty I neck before I head to the ground].
Until he moved to Thetford a few years back, my first point of call was a chat with steward James who stalked the corner between the Barclay and the Snakepit. He’d give me the team news and any gossip he had. I knew him pretty well as we worked in the same pub in Wroxham for a while.
I also knew the late John V who doored the Gunn Club and we’d always find time for a natter.
These days, if my back is really playing up, I’ll use the service lift to the Barclay and chat with steward Richard, the world’s most friendly Yorkshireman, while he checks my ticket and I wait for said lift. A fine fella. I always manage to walk down but it’s the up part I cannot always cope with.
Exiting the lift I once bumped into MFW’s Steve Cook and his father while crossing from blocks B to D; an unintended pleasure as I’d momentarily lost my gyro. A great chat with both ensued though.
Then it’s always a five-minute dissertation with my oldest and best NCFC mate, KK. No not that one, Keith King.
And of course I sit down. And then I get up, sit down, get up again ad infinitum until all in my Barclay row eventually flock in.
The guys in the row behind me are uniformly brilliant. There’s Alan the postman [whose son sits directly in front of me] and Kevin who occasionally comments on MFW. He didn’t know I wrote for us until he put two and two together and accused me of it before a match around Christmas time. I pleaded guilty.
Graham, if I might say so, has something of a weak bladder. He always has x pints in The Jubilee before a match and grabs his seat just as the referee blows for kick off. He is not delicate and his arrival never fails to startle me. We have a ritual. He yells “Sit Down” and I respond with “Shut Up”. Always great banter, even if only because he’s Leicester and I’m Harlequins.
We’re obviously both massive City supporters. He’s great fun.
His near neighbour is a guy I was hoping to do an MFW close season article about – not much chance of that now but he’s part of a British Civil War Society re-enactment group called Sir Thomas Lunsford’s Regiment.
(He’s on the very far right of the picture and his wife’s in there somewhere too.)
Right next to me in the Upper Barclay is a guy who appears with either his wife or his son, depending. Nice folks except…
During the demise of the Hughton regime, Archant produced the infamous clapperboards. The gent thumped his into my left lug for what felt like the full 90 minutes of a game we lost.
Now he didn’t know I’ve only got 80-90 per cent hearing in that ear because of a misspent youth involving heavy metal bands and close proximity to bass bins, but he picked up on my filthy looks towards him and got the message. We get on terrifically now because he understands and the clapperboards are unlikely to reappear. He’s a good guy.
And I’m missing all of these folks. Really. Each and every one of them, most of whom I can’t even get into contact with.
Do you miss your matchday mates?
Let me know if you do.
While you’re here…
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