It’s guest blog time again and a familar voice for those who frequent the #NCFC world of Twitter. I give you Mr Kris Gunns, who takes us through the challenges of supporting City from way beyond the city walls…
First, an introduction. I am a City fan of over 34 years; my journey beginning when my dad brought a 5-year-old me a programme home, after working as a steward in the new City Stand
Times have changed, so have I, but my love for Norwich City has never lessened. I’m now living in Chesterfield but am still, some would say ridiculously, proud to show my allegiance to my football club.
So, what’s it like living away from Norwich, whilst still living and breathing all things yellow and green?
Well, after a bad result, it’s easy. You can switch off from it all; there are not many reminders of it when you’re 137 miles away. However, go on a bad run and everyone who knows you’re a Norwich fan suddenly appears, and I work with a number of Sheffield United fans!
Last season was amazing though. Yes, I still felt a little detached from the togetherness that Daniel and the boys had generated but, that said, what a time it was to be a “foreign” football fan in the land of Sheffield United and Leeds.
From flying my scarf from the bedroom windows to wearing a Norwich City coat in Leeds, I can’t pretend I didn’t get a kick out of the derisory looks and comments as people passed by!
I still have away games to enjoy of course, and nicking a win off Sheffield United after “bus-gate” was a particular high point; sitting in a mess room as a barrage of “you’re not that good” and “bunch of cheats” rained down on me, smiling and singing “MAAAADISON”.
Rotherham away has always been a favourite of mine and my 11-year-old, with thankfully their new stadium sparing him of the rat run at Millmoor. All three of my boys want to be part of the Norwich City family and that’s where my duty as a Canary dad is essential.
Living in deepest Derbyshire, eleven miles from Sheffield and only an hour by train to Manchester, there’s a huge amount of temptation for my three boys, aged 7,8 and 11.
I’ve heard their friends utter the words every exiled canary dreads to hear… “who are Norwich? I support Manchester City”. It wouldn’t be a good look to pick an 8-year-old and shout “because their dad says we support Norwich City you little twerp”, so you bite your lip, take your child and move schools!
Of course, that’s not what I’ve done. Instead I’ve purchased most of the official club shop online and made them look like mini Norwich City versions of Tony Pulis. It’s a struggle shared, no doubt, by another parent on the school run, as I pass another child of primary school age, adorned in Nottingham Forest coat and bag.
Again, clearly a family member has bestowed the dubious honour of supporting the “family” club upon this child, and I hope it works out for them too. Without taking aim at a team down the A140, it’s hard to explain to a 6-year-old that this team was quite good in the 70s and 80s.
Amid the battle for promotion last season, I took our support for City to a bizarre level of rivalry with my children’s Sheffield United supporting teachers. Upon eyeing one in a Sheffield United shirt before sports day started, I changed my own shirt to a Norwich City one.
This got minimal reaction, so I took it a step further when it came to picking gifts for the teachers at the end of term. I purchased Captain Canary hand puppets and my boys presented them to their teachers. This in turn resulted in said teachers, and headteacher, sending me a tweet with the club crest being covered by a Sheffield United sticker.
I’ve been much quieter this season!
However, right there is the biggest problem with trying to pass on your love for your football club. It was easy for my dad. As a steward he would bring me programmes, get me into reserve matches and meet some players, like Ruel Fox and Robert Fleck.
Modern football doesn’t allow for such luxury anymore, even less so when you’re trying to tell a 7-year-old while watching us lose to Preston, that he should really support Norwich City rather than European champions Liverpool.
I must be doing something right though. After an afternoon of watching Daddy rock backwards and forward, praying for Paul Merson or Bianca Westwood to shout “goal… Norwich”, they will always ask me “did we win?”
It’s greeted with a “yes!” and mini fist bump if it’s a positive and a nonchalant “we’re still good though” if not.
However, it’s not the reactions that make me smile, as much as the use of “we”. They see Norwich City Football Club as their team, and no matter how many “you should support Chelsea” comments they get, it’s too late now.