Our pre-season friendly against Dereham Town at Aldiss Park on Friday evening gave Canary fans the chance to see our players [very many of them as there were 22 on display] in action for the first time for a couple of moons, and from what I can gather the 3,000 or so who attended thoroughly enjoyed themselves on the night.
There was no first sighting of Isaac Hayden but there was the opportunity to see Todd Cantwell back in a Yellow shirt*** and a friend who went said TC seemed to be in good spirits. He added that a “back in the fold” match couldn’t have taken place at a better venue for local lad Todd, with the caveat that this is still early days in the rehabilitation process.
Speaking after the game Magpies manager Adam Gusterson was gracious in extremis when he said:
‘What I‘d say about Norwich is their self-awareness to us as a club was exemplary. They knew what this game meant to us as a football club as well. They were a class act on and off the pitch. To have this game sets us up so well for this season.
‘That’s probably a good portion of our budget for the entire season in one night. You have to capitalise and I think we have. The way they’ve approached it, they’ve played obviously good first-team players, which again has attracted people to come here. I’m just so thankful to them and how they’ve been.‘
That equates to roughly 3,000 people at a tenner a time which means Dereham Town must have realised something north of £20k [allowing for some junior tickets] which is an awful lot of money for them. Anything they made from hospitality might even push that figure closer to £30k of course. And without the slightest hint of appearing patronising, that is a lot of money to them.
This takes me back to my first meaningful gig in journalism, when I paid for my juvenile sins by becoming sports editor of the Harlow Gazette at the ripe old age of 22 and the non-league world became mine too for a couple of years.
Unlike some young bucks of today, I was not catapulted into the world of Premier League or even EFL Championship football. Harlow Town and Bishops Stortford were my working environment at that time and thanks to an old friend and Harlow Town director back in the day I got an early insight into how finance worked in the seventh tier of English football.
The gentleman in question, Alan Howick, helped out MFW with our Brighton previews last season. While he naturally didn’t go into too much specific detail way back then he gave me the general picture. Hand to mouth wasn’t in it.
I must have brought both those Essex clubs a bit of luck as Harlow went on an incredible FA Cup run that saw them beat both Southend United and Leicester City [yes, that Leicester City] after replays before going out to Watford 4-3 in an awesome game that could have seen them equalise at the death.
The following year Stortford won the FA Trophy at Wembley [yes, that Wembley] by beating Sutton United 1-0 in an unattractive but mesmerising game featuring one John Radford of Arsenal fame. Stortford became his final club after a long and illustrious career.
During the course of these two seasons, I was in the press boxes at Roots Hall, Filbert Street, Vicarage Road and even the old Wembley itself. No smartphones, no internet, just a pen and a notebook. As the Gazette was a local weekly I didn’t use the telephone for copytaking like everybody else although I might have made a sneaky free call to my girlfriend of the time.
I got interviews with John Motson, Graham Taylor, John Radford and spoke with some of the MotD crew during this period which was a source of great pleasure for a young journo. Just Martin’s luck I guess as neither Harlow or Stortford have never achieved anything significant either before or since.
Those clubs nowhere near the apex of the pyramid have so much to offer. Looking back I contrived to develop a career out of the unexpected on-field heroics of two of them.
So it’s worth reflecting on the good that Norwich City have done by staging pre-season matches with the likes of Dereham Town, Kings Lynn and so many others over the years and always fielding a few household names to ensure a decent home turnout, declining any gate receipts and giving something back to the wider football community.
Adam Gusterson was delighted by the gesture and I’m pretty sure those at the helm of Dereham Town will be too.
£20k might only be just over a day’s worth of Mo Salah’s wages on his new deal at Liverpool but somewhere along the A47 it will mean an awful lot.
***We cannot all be wrong. The new home shirt is an absolute belter.
This sign-off seems quite appropriate:
Morning Mr P, living a little way from Aldiss Park I went with my lad, was a excellent turnout, without doubt that money will help this well run club. I intend to have a few more visits to join in with the hardy group who visit there regually.
Todd was pretty good wanting and feeding the ball at every opportunity, several of the young guns did themselves no harm at all, Dickson-Peters, Flyn Clarke, Warner and a very impressive Gibson in midfield. (hope I am correct with the names and position)
Dereham have several young lads in their ranks, one is Ashton Fox, recently selected for England u18 shoolboys, he put in a MOTM for the 3lions back in march, perhaps one tolook out for, surprised he has not been picked up yet. maybe because he is till in Dereham Town’s academy,
Hugil got himself in the right place at right time for a brace, but was caught offside a few times. too many, there was some great banter between Gunny and the crowd behind his goal help make it a ligh hearted enjoyable evening. Spoke with a few people around me several had not renewed their tickets, citing the usual suspects as to the reason.
A very enthuiastic group of mainly local lads (yep my lad in that) sung virtually all game, let some off green smoke bombs, which stunk to heck, but you could tell they totally enjoyed the evening alongwith everyone else. My ladcould hardly talk after the game, was quite pleasant though lolol
I believe Hayden, well sure I saw him, sitting on the chairs that came out of the bar I believe in a watching brief.
A very enjoyable evening, how be it very one sided as you would expect, Dereham didn’t disgrace themselves at all, noone resorted to any questionable tackles as sometimes can happen (Cambridge Utd, hope it is different this time). Pleased City did not go out of their way to embarress the part timers.
martin penney says
I wish I’d known you were going to the game beforehand – I’d have asked you for an MFW match report!
Glad you enjoyed it. You can certainly have a great time at grounds like Aldiss Park and I’ve always found Emerald Park and Blofield United very enjoyable.
When I lived in Blofield and City were away on a Saturday I would nearly always go to the Blofield game as it was an easy walk and for a Combination club the crowds were quite large and certainly enthusiastic – jeez there were some characters at Blofield back in the day, from Paddy the manager down 🙂
You’re right, Isaac Hayden was there sitting with the squad – there were a couple of pictures of him in the Pink Un that I didn’t see until last night.
We certainly don’t want the Cambridge diet of a couple of seasons ago but something tells me that will have been discussed in advance by now.
Didn’t go to the game (my sciatica couldn’t take standing for that long), but I’ve just seen the highlights. It does appear that Cantwell had a decent 45 minutes, and for a City play, surprisingly, got his corner kick beyond the first defender, to the far post, with the knock back resulting in a goal. Decent forward ball for the second goal, too. I do hope he’s got his act together at last.
Did my eyes deceive me, or did the ref have a ponytail? Presumably one of the fairer sex, nice to see. I just hope the players moderated their usual language, especially with kids close to the pitch.
martin penney says
Yeah, let’s hope Todd’s back on planet Canary. I’m by no means convinced at this early stage but the signs seem positive.
You’re quite right about the Ref of course – she is one Abi Byrne.
I had a vague recollection of her name so had a google. She’s from Suffolk FA and officiated this year’s Womens FA Cup Final at Wembley so she’s obviously of a pretty decent standard.
As for players’ lingo you’ll never see [or hear] that change 🙂
Thanks, Martin. The fair Abi is one to keep an eye on. I’m sure I read somewhere that the Premier League (or maybe it was the EFL) where going to have one or more female referees this coming season. I should think if they’ve come up through the pyramid, they’re well used to the odd bit of Anglo Saxon.
martin penney says
I see nothing wrong whatsoever with the concept of female referees and Abi Byrne appears to be one of the finest.
While the Saxons weren’t too keen on books they left us with some explicit words that remain with us some 1500 years later!
The ref wasn’t at all bad. was very fair just one slip that I could see. certainly had a better bum than male refs. not that I looked too much .lolol.
The bad language was down to a minimum, both sides were aware of a young audience was present. One clumsy tackle by Dereham lad, got a sharp reaction from lad named Riley I believe. I forgot in my first comment to mention, an audacious back heel flick by Zimmo which just landed on the top of the net, he ran off with the biggest grin I have seen.
martin penney says
Ha! I still think Zimbo has a role to play this season.
Tim Ball says
I remember that Harlow win over Leicester Martin, way back in the early eighties.
Feeling anymore optimistic for the season ahead ? 😂 I hope so because I am looking for positives from anywhere. I am sitting on the fence so much my …. well you know !!!
I hope Dean Smith has put the Teemu Pukki will he won’t he saga to bed, famous last words and all that.
Lose Pukki and/or Grant Hanley and our promotion charge looks less and less likely. Fingers crossed.
Your piece stirred up some great memories of my playing days. Some of my contemporaries wouldn’t describe it as exactly playing more goalhanging with a vengeance.
But I look at the size of the Anglian Combination and the Norwich Sunday League today and it is heartbreaking in comparison with the era in which I played, late seventies and eighties.
I think combined they have lost nearly 2/3 rds of the clubs playing in those years.
I played in the Norwich Business Houses League and when I started playing it had 4 divisions and a Reserve league all with a high number of teams in them, unbelievably it folded in 2017.
I felt really sad when I heard as we had fantastic times over those years. My brother-in-law Joe with Anglian Windows won everything back in those days and we at West Point for 4 years gained two promotions.
We both love thinking of those days. And I still meet with some of the lads regularly 🍺🍺🍺
The changing ways of working and youngsters having more options than just football ( computer games instead of football, god help us !) have revolutionized amateur football for now.
Hopefully one day those old days will come back.
martin penney says
No, I am not over optimistic – there’s far too much enniu around for my liking.
Unfortunately I reckon Dean Smith can say whatever he likes about the GOAT but that type of thing isn’t really within his remit.
I played most – but not all – of my football in Essex and London but I agree it’s good to meet up with some old mates as time flies by and recollections diversify over the years!
My thoughts at that time were that we played the game for enjoyment because there was no money in it for any of us because we were not good enough. Simple as.
In recreational terms. if somebody had removed football and hard/heavy rock I would have endured an extremely boring youth 🙂
Thanks as always
Unexpectedly I found the Connor im match report live on the Pink-un and not behind the paywall.
There were lots of good comments and TC have plenty saying was he back to make his mark or show others what he is capable of doing on time will tell on that front.
With all the international players returning this week we might see some movement with players coming and going but it looks like Placheta to the Blues of Birmingham could be a dead duck with Bowyer gone unless it’s driven by their recruitment team maybe Hernandez might be loaned out as well.
Germany up next is it just a training camp with a couple of friendlies throw in or possibly a scouting trip for SW not sure what mountains are in that area.
Lastly the Icelandic creative midfielder is still getting a mention but Glimit as said to be interested as well and they are in European competition.
Early days but just maybe the shoots of recovery might just be showing
martin penney says
I think one of the friendlies is in Austria and there are plenty of mountains there – the Grossglockner for one is an awesome sight.
Green shoots is still a constant maybe for me as nothing has changed at the top and while this situation continues we’ll have to wait and see.
As I always say I like to see a recruit in a Yellow shirt before I count my Canaries but right now I cannot get enthused about yet another 20-y-o.
Especially when in this case Bodo Glimt might be a more sensible option for him.