That little glimpse of normality for the 2000 must have felt good.
Even for those of us unable to make the pilgrimage, there was something comforting and ‘normal’ about On the Ball City echoing around Carrow Road in those few excitable seconds before kick-off and the accompanying buzz.
So too hearing those same voices coming together to do precisely what home crowds do – the clue being the word home.
No more of this level-playing-field nonsense. No more games that may as well be played in the sterile neutrality of St George’s Park, or the calm of Normanston Park, Lowestoft or even the peace and tranquillity of Portman Road.
This felt and sounded proper.
Referee Jarred Gillett had that sub-conscious seed planted in his head; that little voice reminding him there’s flak coming his way if he gives a 50/50 against City or if he makes a mistake that costs us. More on that later.
While Tony Pulis was spared the usual City Stand analysis of his modelling of the entire Sheffield Wednesday club shop, he’ll have known he was away from home… assuming he can hear a thing through those Owl ear muffs.
And those playing in yellow knew they were around friends. They knew they’d be lauded for doing something good – who doesn’t love that? – and, by the same score, also knew that those in the South Stand were watching closely and would note any perceived lack of oomph or determination, and would probably politely remind them if they felt shortchanged.
The senses, both good and bad, were heightened and, while that doesn’t automatically translate to greater quality on the pitch, it makes for an occasion; an event; something we recognise; something to be a part of; something to share with fellow City fans.
The players felt it, and had something to feed off.
Such had been Tony Pulis’ success at throttling the life out of that game, I don’t believe, at 1-0 down and with 80 minutes on the clock, we win it. In fact, I don’t believe we even get a point without those 2000 voices.
Yes, of course we’re the masters of the late, late show but this felt different. Faced with a wall that Trump would have been proud of – on this occasion, one that comprised six giant defenders – and with a City team running on fumes, this had all the hallmarks of an afternoon that was about to fizzle out to a demoralising 1-0.
I already had pictures in my head of a beaming Tony extolling the virtues of the Charles Hughes playbook at the post-match presser, and bemoaning those who think they can achieve anything playing that “tippy-tappy garbage”.
But the 2000 were never going to let it fizzle out. Not a chance.
And in Mario Vrancic we have one who not only can thread a ball through an eye of a needle but can also find the most minute sliver of light in a seemingly impregnable and watertight PulisWall.
Oh how Tony must gave cursed as Mario did the impossible and Josh Martin gloriously applied the deftest of finishing touches.
Up until that point, Tone’s plan had worked a treat although I’m not sure he’d have been overly enthralled with Barry Bannan passing the ball in a Pirlo-style or Adam Reach’s use of that cultured left-foot to pass and not hoof the ball.
I do suspect though he’d have permitted himself a rueful smile as Reach’s inch-perfect cross was met perfectly by Josh Windass’s head, even if quality of that ilk wasn’t necessarily part of the plan.
It was a brilliant goal, although from a City perspective, Ben Gibson for once was on his heels when he desperately needed to get his shoulder in front of Windass. Michael McGovern had no chance – the cross was too good to come for and the header too powerful to stop – even if he did end up in River End no man’s land.
TP’s decision to reinforce his wall rather than go for a second goal would have been lauded by fellow C Hughes devotees – like Sam Allardyce and Sean Dyche – but equally, they would (did in the case of the former) argue at least one of two penalty claims should have been given.
While the second shout was, in fact, a perfectly timed tackle by Vrancic, it was definitely in the seen-them-given envelope, and the first, a slight tug by Grant Hanley, was of a type that would have been met with the fury of the South Stand if it had been denied at the other end.
Would Master Gillett have stood so firm if the only voices ringing in his ears were those of our Tony, his cohorts on the bench and the Wednesday players?
Not so sure.
And, like I said, I’m equally unsure if, after 80 minutes of battering unsuccessfully headlong into that PulisWall, we’d have found a way in the remaining ten if the only voices roaring City on were from the bench, the subs and Michael & Delia.
And if Mario’s eye-of-a-needle pass was something special, his backheel to Max Aarons for the second was worthy of the Genius Bar. Credit too for Max’s ice cool finnish; one that Teemu himself would have been proud of.
There’s a danger of us taking young master Aarons for granted. Not once since the summer has he made a consequence of himself. No tantrums, no self pity, and no downing of tools.
Instead, we see a work ethic that never ceases, an understanding of the game and his role that grows week on week, and now, the pièce de résistance… winning goals.
We talking of treasuring Emi Buendia as long as he’s here. We should do the same with Max.
So, I’m not quite sure how, but we did a win! An unlikely one given the behemoth we faced and the circumstances surrounding it, but we did it. We found a way, helped in no small part by 2000 voices.
Same again Wednesday? Oh, go on then…