We’ve all been there, sadly. That time when a relationship starts to turn sour: a bitter taste left in the mouth where there had previously been an intoxicating sweetness of optimism and hope.
Who hasn’t suddenly been stranded in a position when you know things need to change despite having wanted it to work out? Sadly, there comes a time when drastic change is needed and inaction and malaise simply lead to toxicity that poisons lives.
Norwich City Football Club and I have almost broken up on multiple occasions: when Robert Chase started a fire sale; with the dire reigns of Glenn Roeder and Peter Grant; relegation to League One; the loss of Paul Lambert; and being bored to tears under Chris Hughton.
However, every time, even when I vowed to never darken their door again, I was soon seduced and back in love. A psychologically abusive relationship where I suffered but kept coming back for more – pain and ecstasy in equal measures, over and over again.
I guess the thing is over the years the reason I have crawled back for more is that however much the club hurt me or, from time to time, took my support for granted, I knew they loved me. They listened. It might have taken time, but, eventually, they would come around to my way of thinking.
With age comes experience, confidence and awareness. My tolerance for being messed around has all but eroded. And so this is why the latest disagreement with the love of my life feels a little different. This time it feels like the Club might not want to listen or not care if I walk away – and I feel like I might not care either.
I used to feel excited around the Club. Now I feel bored.
I used to feel that we were all pulling in the same direction. Now I think we see ourselves arriving at different destinations.
I know I’m being gaslighted. Fed unpalatable half-truths and being blamed for things I and other supporters couldn’t possibly have caused.
We’re at that point of no return. The Club and I want different things.
I’m not taking things personally, though – the club isn’t talking to anyone apart from itself. The disillusionment I feel is felt by fellow supporters and the local media. It couldn’t be more obvious – we don’t mean anything to the club anymore.
They tolerate us, but we’re not welcome to know as much about them as we used to. It’s almost as if they don’t want us to be around anymore or daring us to break up with them.
As well as the erratic behaviour, there’s the fact we know the Club loves someone else more than us: whether you think that’s Dean Smith or Stuart Webber, or both, the club won’t listen to sense regarding either of them. It’s obvious they are going to end up getting seriously hurt by one or both of them.
Christ, how did we get ourselves into this mess? And how on earth do we get out of it?
I’m experienced enough to know that there will be no kissing and making up this time. We won’t just be able to have a reconciliatory cuddle and forgive and forget. Things are going to have to change drastically for us to get to a place to try again.
Someone is going to have to leave and some serious words said before we can look to share a future together.
Whether it’s a Smith, Dean or Delia, or Webber, someone is going to have to walk out of the door and take the toxicity with them. However, my worry is that having seen more empty seats appear around me in the Upper Barclay game by game, the club is happy for the growing number of disenfranchised fans to walk away rather than think about changing its current attitude.
I’ve loved Norwich City all my life, but it’s being tested to the limit by the team, its management, and the club’s leadership. I can’t help feeling that rather than being led back to the Premier League we are being dragged kicking and screaming into Championship obscurity.
We’re at a junction. And now’s the time to change direction or face being stuck in this cycle of anger and disappointment for many years – but it shouldn’t be me or any fan, or the local media, being forced to walk away from Carrow Road.
Martin, like you I’ve been a City supporter for more years than I care to remember and weathered the many ups and downs. But then they sold us a vision, a new way forward, and in came Webber and Danny and it began to work, slowly and then magnificently. Fantastic football and we won the Chump in style. Then the rude awakening and we crashed out of the Prem. But all was not lost, another magnificent Chump season, we were doing it our way. And then the second Prem crash, everything fell apart, but still we had a new manager and the possibility of another good Chump season. Wrong! How much tosh and we supposed to take? Either the vision we were sold is faulty or we have leaders who are not up to the job. Change on the way? No! Platitudes and excuses, and in the meantime we are going backwards. Wake up Delia, it’s our Club too.
We had to demonstrate outside the ground to get rid of Robert Chase. Looks as though we need a riot to get rid of the Smith(s) and Webber.
Let’s have a clean sweep and start again!
A Great read.
It’s the egotistical dogmatic approach that they know what’s best and yes it’s their money that purchased the club, it’s also the supporters money that helps the club survive.
Come ST renewal those that opt out will be covered they will hope by those on the waiting list but if they opt out as well how are they going to meet the loans demands, no one want to see administration and a possible Ashley involved in talks to takeover.
The last time the supporters felt disenfranchised it was Geoffrey Watling that saved the day now we don’t have that luxury or maybe our American Cousin might come to the rescue but I won’t hold my breath
I honestly think this attitude is tied in with the fact they are focussing on minority groups for supporters.
They don’t want shouty sweary types who care about the winning and losing. They want the day out supporters who pay and worry about inclusivity etc.
It’s about to get alot worse, Carrow Rd is being blandified, encouraged to report on supporters, the new badge, being told what you can and cannot say.
The club is being made as generic and inoffensive as possible.
martin penney says
The trouble is Leigh that since the advent of S&S we’ve become a bit too inoffensive on the pitch for my liking!
Seriously you make one of those observations that has been lurking at the back of my mind for a while now and seeing it expressed on screen I am very inclined to agree with you.
I am that shouty type at a match although I keep the lingo clean unless I’m speaking with friends immediately around me in the Bardclay.
Do I feel wanted right now? No!!!
S & S …slug and sloth?
Gary Gowers says
‘Focussing on minority groups?’
Of all the sticks there are to beat the club with (and there are plenty), am struggling to see this as a valid one, Leigh. Dare I even ask who you deem these “minority groups” to be?
(I may regret asking).
Martin Betts says
Everyone should feel welcome at Carrow Road. I have no problem with fans reporting others who have shouted racist or homophobic bile, or sexist comments at female officials.
If we make Carrow Road a place where all City fans feel welcome that’s a good thing. For clarity, my article is about the quality of football, the supporter relationship (in terms of answering questions around football management and business), and the lack of communication with fans and local media on the performance of the team, Smith, and Webber. I have no issue with the quest for inclusiveness at the club and this article doesn’t seem to address that.
Wrath of the snowflakes.
Graham Hilder says
Couldn’t agree more, far too much virtue signalling and too little quality on the pitch, personally I couldn’t care less about people’s views, sexuality etc, we’re all football fans and on match day that’s really all that matters..
Martin my feelings exactly.
I was at the theatre last week and the women next to me turned out to be a City fan.
Much to my surprise she said Delia has been there too long and it’s time for a change.
She was fed up with the rubbish being produced on the field.
Like you there are more empty seats in the south stand with every game.
I think we need to vocally protest on mass if we ever expect the current board to listen.
I think they finally realise that self funding is a dead duck and they have no alternative but to pull up the drawbridge and hope for the best.
Tommy Thompson says
Welcome to ncfc the muppet show .
As a fan of just on 60 years, like many others on here, we have seen some dross served up, with the highlights of Saunders, Bond, Brown, Stringer,Walker Lambert, and Farke. When i first started attending matches as a 10yo, the stands were full of flat caps and Trilby’s, seeing many many people standing in overalls. The working man the bedrock of football fans. Now this has changed over the intervening years, clubs now want suits and prawn cocktail supporters, Corporate sponsorship, sponsorship of every inch of shirt they can get away with. Even the stands become something different every few years.
I go back to McNally, had a conversation over the extra fund on a season ticket for the academy I believe at the time. If you didn’t want to pay you had to ring the club (a number I found hard to get through on) giving details and why I didn’t. I thought it was the arse about face way of doing things, plus the negative notes on my file on their computers. I said it was better to give Norfolk people the option of opting in, the results would be greater.
I was polite for a long while in the conversation, but when he told me I was causing division, not having the future of the club at heart. I did get a little heated up, I replied I am only making a suggestion, which clearly isn’t wanted in any form, coupled with his response, I said I will not be renewing to which he replied good someone who wants to support the club, will soon take your place.
I was having doubts about renewing as we had just suffered 1 season of Hughton, another did not sit as a thing to look forward to or spend my limited budget on..
Having had many dealings with the club in various forms mostly Disabled Supporter (which I and late friend started, only to be forced out by bigger ego’s than ours) Neil Doncaster made mistakes but always was outside talking to fans, I had many conversations with him and the late Roger Munby . Not once were they rude, they listened, if they disagreed they politely put a reasoned polite reply.
I know people liked McNally in some ways I did, but that for me was when the moat was started, now that moat is fully dug full to the brim and with only a narrow drawbridge. It has been a very fast and slippery path to that drawbridge being firmly up and portcullis firmly down.
Sorry for the rambling, I am old Norfolk, boa I love some squit, . but seen more than enough squit at carra rud
I have not had a season ticket since, and will not until I die or Ruddy Smith & Jones depart.
I have managed to get along for a few games each season, but I am not bothering anymore, I watch Dereham Town and my lads u18 youth league, were I see more honesty passion and fight than what has the name of of pro football at Carrow Rd.
Based on that attitude, please please please go and support another club…
Mikey B says
I’ve been going to Carrow Road since 1960. So, I’ve seen ups and downs along the way. I’ve probably also earned the right to have an opinion.
The club has begun a downward spiral that those in charge seem unable to get out of and therefore choose to ignore. The situation is exacerbated by the remoteness of our location and the fact that season tickets sell out every year. As soon as that happens those around Delia are able to tell her that all is well and point to sales to prove it. She isn’t stupid, she knows things are not right, but she also owns a limited company called Norwich City Football Club Limited. We all call it a ‘club’ and claim its ‘our club’ but in reality it is a limited company that has to make a profit to survive.
So the spiral continues – we can’t afford to sack the manager and his staff as much as the directors might like to. It would be a reckless financial decision and negligent as directors of a limited company. The solution will be either to somehow get back to The Premier League and take their money again while selling our best assets to stay afloat as we did last time, or to wallow in mid table Championship with mediocre players just capable of keeping us there.
Depressing, I know, but that’s where we are.
Norwich fans and owners tasted a cake you should have never tasted, it was foreign cake. Farke cake was obviously something different you had never tasted, you miss it too much. Club owners and staff are obviously hiding, because they cant offer a similar experience to you anymore. Cake does not have to be foreign to be good, but likely Norwich cake should have been. Dean Smith seems to be more like Chris Wilder, Steve Bruce type of manager.
As if we’re the only club in the country consuming “foreign cake”.
Utterly bizarre comment.
It was something new to you. Thats why getting back to british style does not taste so good anymore. The main reason why best premier league clubs have foreign managers and some mid table clubs is because foreign managers are way better than british ones.
Kevin mccluskey says
It’s a hard decision to say some of the things people has been saying regarding the style of football as I’ve been a supporter for over 50 years and hand on heart I love the club win lose or draw but time has come it’s a sad thing to say but at this present moment the club seems to have no future base regarding football seems like we are going back 10 steps whether it’s the manager or from up above changes has got to be made before it falls down and we don’t want to go down that road again something need to be give why the atmosphere at the club is not the same it’s the quietest I’ve ever witnessed in over 50 years someone need to step up and walk away so we can rebuild
Still hoping against hope that Webber will go to Chelsea in some role or other.