One of the first to throw his hand skywards when the shout went out for some MFW guest blogs was Nick Buck – part of the #NCFC Twitter community. It’s his first time so…
I am new so please treat me gently!
I’ll start with with what is currently, a vastly overused phrase – ‘These are [indeed] unprecedented times’
We all know that, we have seen and heard about many strange things over the last few weeks – social distancing, lockdown, face masks in the street, daily updates on infection and, very sadly, the loss of life.
So, while we are preoccupied with matters of life and death and the safety of our loved ones, football is important but not that important. I miss it, I am sure we all miss it, but at the moment it really isn’t that important.
My own Canary love affair started when aged 8-years-old. Mr Lincoln – I always called him Mr Lincoln (I think his name was James) – took me to my first home game.
To explain, Mr Lincoln wasn’t just some random bloke, he was the father-in-law of my brother, the caretaker of a school in Costessey so it happens. It was 1967, I think we played Rotherham, and he had with him a cushion which he placed through the railings at the River End near the goal. I sat on it, legs dangling pitch-side of the railings.
I think we won 1-0 but, you know what, the result really didn’t matter. It was my first game; the love affair had started.
The result was only part of it. The experience was the thing; men in hats smoking, the smell of beer and, I seem to remember, some sort of food offering, although I can’t be sure of that.
It was the crowd that absorbed me. All of those people, as many as I had ever seen in one place, gathered for that one purpose – to support their team.
I fell in love with the Yellow and Green that day, but I also fell in love with the whole experience – eleven stars (at least in my eyes) on the pitch, but a whole family of fellow fans making it, well… special.
Over the years that matchday experience has gone through a number of transformations but it remains still special. Now I don’t need Mr Lincoln, I get myself to the game, meeting up with my friends in the pub where we talk utter rubbish for a couple of hours before completing the pilgrimage to Carrow Road.
There have been occasions when matters on the pitch are not so good and has been suggested we stay in the pub. But we have never done that… not yet anyway!
I sit in the South Stand surrounded by friends and people who I don’t really know but who I’ve become familiar with – it’s special. Sometimes other fans annoy me, like the collective shout of “SHOOT” when Tettey is 40 yards out when we know he is far more likely to hit Row Z than the back of the net. That will always annoy me but, then again, I am old, and grumpy.
But it’s the chat, the inane ‘humour’ trotted out by my friends, the same old lines that still make me laugh, and those moments – a Paddon thunderbolt, a towering Holt header, a last-second Vrancic free kick… all glorious, emotion-charged moments when we score, truly special, even if I am hugged, occasionally kissed and occasionally physically damaged as a result (you know who you are!).
Okay, so I have waxed lyrical on what’s great about football, but now to the crux of the matter.
I heard a broadcaster say the other day, ‘We need to get football back for the good of the nation’; the suggestion being the season must be played to a conclusion behind closed doors, which will in turn, somehow, make us feel better.
But this is something that must be done only if you are a broadcaster, are in the media or one of the ‘businessmen’ running a club.
If you are a fan this is total nonsense and, before you suggest it, this is not a blinkered view to keep us in the Premier League. If we are relegated because the season can’t be finished, then so be it. I won’t be happy but let’s be honest, we are bottom so we have no real argument.
We will argue, and challenge, and rightly so, as will others similarly affected, but we are also bottom.
I have no interest in that soulless spectacle of my team battling on a neutral pitch somewhere, without me, without us, without the Canary family there to support them.
Who knows what could be achieved if we could be there?
So what happens next?
I really don’t know, but what I do know is that football is amazing. I love it but at the moment it really isn’t that important.
When it’s time let’s have it back, as it should be, home and away, with fans, an experience, the whole experience, the experience that I first discovered with Mr Lincoln.
My title for this piece is lighthearted. I can eat fish but it needs chips, the same as football needs fans. Without them its not football!
I thank you…!