Can you remember a time when you were happy? I mean truly happy with bugger all to worry about in those halcyon days before acquiring children or career-based employment and you felt the world was your crustacean of choice?
I’ve only really enjoyed one period like that in my life which turned out to be that glorious summer of 1976. I’d just left school and was working more or less full-time at the Bald Faced Stag in Buckhurst Hill for my mate, Bobby N. It was laugh-a-minute stuff at a time when those bolts on the back door never seemed to draw together too readily. On many an occasion, I would have seen night turn into day in that famous old pub, such were the depths of what felt like the depravity we enjoyed at the time. 😀
Nights off meant a trip to my two clubs [which sounds more regal than it was in reality, we’re not talking White’s or the Groucho here] the Marquee in the West End or Dagenham Roundhouse in the East to see bands like Thin Lizzy, the Groundhogs or the Pink Fairies as well as stumbling on some stars of the future such as Dire Straits, The Clash and The Jam.
I had a car, earned good money as I rarely paid for a drink and the female company I enjoyed from time to time was of the highest quality. Looking back after 50 years it seems like it was anyway, although the Capri and the MGB droptop probably played a huge part in my post-adolescent recruitment drive.
Songs like Blowin’ Free, Sunny Afternoon and Grantchester Meadows became a soundtrack to that wonderful time because for four sweltering, cider-cooled days I lived them, alternating between cornfields, woodlands and the saloon bar of the Greyhound with the lovely Caroline, which constituted my first serious relationship and, indeed, holiday as an adult.
So when I read Gary’s article [and MFW regular Dan Rear‘s poignant comment thereon] yesterday I too felt the nostalgia, no I’ll go one step beyond that, the hiraeth, of the days of Paul Lambert and then slightly later Daniel Farke in his full pomp and circumstance.
Dan said: “I reckon Lambo in 2009-12 was the best period we’ve had [since the early 90s]. Being the underdog, getting great results across three leagues with mainly League One and Chump players, last-minute and Fergie-time points gained. That was a fantastic era.”
Wednesday evening presented what it was: two poor teams needing a win for very different reasons. Neither could beat their inner demons to achieve this, although the stats ended with us well ahead on points at the end of the day with possession 32%-68% in our favour and shots 7-18 it counted for nothing at the final whistle. Random observations from yet another awful evening include:
- Andrew Omobamidele was lucky to stay on the field after hauling back Tim Iroegbunam, only being out wide saved him from a Red;
- We aren’t keeping any players up on the halfway line when we’re defending so there’s no out-ball to take the pressure off;
- Some 2,200 Canaries travelled to Loftus Road. Special late train notwithstanding, this was another fine away presence from us Yellows;
- Isaac Hayden somehow got away with an awful tackle on young Aaron Drewe, showing what can happen when you haven’t played in ages;
- QPR Manager Gareth Ainsworth and City Coach Andy Hughes were booked after a touchline *conversation* turned a bit tasty;
- Rangers’ high press was constantly hassling our defence with our tiki-taka passing around at the back – we’ve been caught out that way before!
- We were allowed six subs as Dimi Giannoulis clearly suffered a concussion when he was bundled head-first into the hoarding by Lyndon Dykes;
- That’s a sensible new rule to me as concussion is an *under-rated threat* and can do a lot of damage if not properly assessed and quickly;
- Idah was aware of his chance and took it which was good all round, and we did produce a few bright spots, mainly at the end of each half!
Ainsworth said of his reeling West London outfit before the match:
“They’re very damaged and they’re quite fragile, and I’ve got to make sure that they are up for the games when the games come around, because it can only come from within now and that’s really important.”
I don’t think it’s OTT of me to suggest the very same thing applies to us in equal quantity. David Wagner, surely limited in what he could reasonably be expected to say, was as honest as the day is long afterwards as he did his best to provide some perspective on yet another poor result:
“We go again. Swansea [Norwich’s opponents on Saturday] are a team in great form at the minute, as everybody knows when you see their recent results. But I’ve seen the strangest things in football. Not a lot of things speak for us, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not possible. We have a chance, and as long as we have a chance we will try it, like we have done today.
“We should have done better in possession, and this is exactly what we have to ask ourselves, and keep the workload and fighting spirit as high as it is.”
Those halcyon days seem a long way off now. Days without care, enjoying the seemingly never-ending sunshine in a field with a flagon or two of cider have gone forever, but speaking purely personally early retirement has brought its own rewards – of a similar-but-different kind whenever possible!
All that’s missing is the pleasure often associated with being part of Norwich City Football Club which currently appears to be collapsing all around us.
Surely somebody somewhere must do something to arrest this process. The ones who want to see some positive action the most of course are us, the sequestrated supporters who are currently considered to be nothing but a necessary nuisance by the powers that be, who are quietly relieved that they have received over 20,000 season ticket renewals.
Although we would all like the Club to be the best it can, it would appear that thought has been dismissed in certain quarters along with Soccerbot 360.
Ainsworth is not alone in this column as a to-the-core hard rocker, cos I’m one too. Today’s featured artist might never have bothered the UK charts as much as he did those in the States but nevertheless came up with Harvest, the soft, west coast-styled million-selling album of the same name at the dawn of the 1970s. It seemed like every student owned or had access to a copy back in the day.
And here, some fifty years on, Neil Young and his original band Crazy Horse continue to show how it’s done***, with the bonus for the writer that the title of this track sums up the Norwich City of 2022-23 to perfection:
*** Suggested and submitted by B. Owen, Wivenhoe, Essex.