The latest in our series of guest blogs comes from regular MFW commenter Alex Alexander. His journey, as the headline suggests, has been very much of the rollercoaster variety. He may need his tin hat…
So, where do I begin?
Well, let’s start when I first got a season ticket, back in 2008, which meant I saw the relegation to League One from close quarters from my seat in the Lower River End.
We were offered a refund of £70 on our season tickets as a result of relegation but I, like many others, chose not to and so, as a result, we were able to sign Grant Holt from Shrewsbury, whom no one has ever heard of.
(Little did we know at the time, he would go on to become a club legend. I had a bet that he would score 15 or more goals in the Premier League and won £55 for my £5 stake).
I duly turned up to take my seat for the opening game in League One against Colchester and, again, like many others that day, left at half time. (I often wonder if the two fans who threw their season tickets at Bryan Gunn have been allowed back into the stadium).
We then ‘acquired’ Colchester’s manager, aka Paul Lambert, and things started looking up.
One of my greatest memories of that era was the Easter Weekend of 2011. The powers that be decided that our fixture against Ipswich (oddly now managed by the very same manager who was our saviour back in 2009) should be on Maundy Thursday and the club chose to do a beam-back, so that fans sitting in the City Stand could watch the game on a large screen in front of the Jarrold.
I duly arrived at Lloyds, as it was back then, at around 5pm and outside was just a sea of yellow.
I returned to the pub after the game and was still in there when the first train carrying jubilant fans spilled its contents onto Thorpe Station. Most then joined in the celebrations in the pub.
It was my 60th birthday earlier in that year and my son and daughter had paid for me to have lunch with Darren Huckerby and watch the Derby game (yes, that game) in the ‘posh seats’ in the Jarrold Stand.
Apart from us winning that game with almost the last kick, my other memories are of Neil Adams’ reaction to the winner and also the reaction to of Neil ‘Colin’ Warnock as, while we were only drawing, QPR had won the title. The icing on the cake was that I had a sizeable win at the bookies for predicting the correct score!
Of course, we duly won promotion and survived to have a second season in the Premier League. But in our last ten or so games, we only won 11 points, as other managers had worked out how to beat us. As we know, Lambert left acrimoniously to manage a ‘bigger club’ in Aston Villa.’
He was, however, unable to replicate the success he had enjoyed at Carrow Road and has since been appointed manager at several clubs, all without success, prior to being handed the poisoned chalice at Portman Road.
Fast forward to more recent times and, of course, a major turning point for the club was the arrival of Stuart Webber and Daniel Farke as Sporting Director and Head Coach respectively.
I’ve been led to believe that the decision to make the Webber appointment was mainly down to to Delia’s nephew Tom and Ed Balls.
But I wasn’t enjoying the football at the end of the 2016-17 season, so much so I decided to relinquish my season ticket. I wanted to be able to go to occasional games though and sample different parts of the ground, but found I didn’t enjoy the experience.
I could see towards the end of the 2017-18 season that the style of football was improving, so went to see if any season tickets were available. It just so happened that a seat was free one row in front of where I’d sat for ten years and so I bought it.
The start of the 2018-19 season was pretty dire, none more so than the 3-0 defeat by Leeds, but our next home game was against top-of-the-table Boro and we duly won 1-0; playing some very attractive football and prompting a rant by a Boro fan which went viral.
The remainder of the season was a bit of a blur, as we staged some memorable comebacks (Millwall, Forest etc) and suffered a rare home defeat to Frank Lampard’s Derby as a result of floodlightgate (I remember Michael Bailey commenting that the level of lighting at Griffin Park was less than at Carrow Road with one bank of lights not working!).
I can’t remember the number of games when we scored winners in the last ten minutes (help @NCFC Numbers), but it was pretty impressive.
We went on to go top of the table and stayed there, including that memorable win at Leeds and ending a winning streak for Bristol City – two of the many highlights of that wonderful season. It all culminated with those amazing scenes at Villa Park on 4th May.
Three of our players rightfully earned awards at the end of the season and all three would go on to play key roles this season.
The victory celebrations will live long in my memory and we then waited to see our first opponents in our return to the Premier League. Lo and behold, we were away at Anfield.
We started a bit like ‘rabbits in headlights’ and went in at half time losing 4-0, but Pukki grabbed a consolation goal and we earned much praise from Jürgen for our style of play.
To his credit, Farke has never once hit the panic button and changed his style of play and only some poor finishing and goalkeepers playing blinders (Patricio at Carrow Road and Heaton at Villa Park spring to mind), prevented us winning more points.
And then there was the FA Cup. I was one of the 9,000 who saw us beat the mighty Spurs on penalties and a friend commented afterward that a couple of weeks later that we’d possibly beat Man Utd, but be unable to experience another trip to Wembley due to Coronavirus.
As it transpires, who knows when we’ll be able to watch our team again.
But, looking at the wider picture, I’ve spoken to fans who’ve been going to Carrow Road for over 50 years and they ALL say that our style of play is the most exciting ever witnessed while watching City.
In my opinion, I’d rather see the style of football that we play and be relegated than play the ‘must not lose’ style of Chris Hughton.
I just hope that everyone stays safe and well, and that football returns only when it is safe to do so.