So that’s what it feels like!
By it, I mean, of course, a win but equally that could just as easily refer to the oddity of a goal or, rarer still, a Carrow Road last-second winner.
As it transpired, all of those things came together to produce a noise and a buzz not seen at Carrow Road for a very long time. And much needed it was too.
In a perverse way, I was one of the lucky ones in that ill health denied me the opportunity to attend Carrow Road in the second half of last season (yesterday was my first game in 2023).
As such, I was inadvertently spared an awful lot of dross, but there must have been a hardcore of seventeen or eighteen thousand who weren’t.
Yesterday was for them.
It wasn’t perfect. Even with a new-look defence, they still managed to find time for a defensive cock-up of sizeable proportions and for long spells of the second half looked a little too comfortable to defend against, but throughout there was a freshness and determination that will hopefully, going forward, set this group apart from the rotten Class of 2023.
For the opening 45, after seven months of waiting, we finally got to see Wagnerball in its purest form. And it’s good. With the ball, the tempo is high, the ball is zipped, and the movement is sharp; without it, the high press is exhaustive but structured and the hunting is done in packs.
The concern around there being no individual in the group capable of producing a piece of magic persists – and will hopefully still be addressed – but if yesterday’s first 45 turns out to be a reasonable guide, then the system itself, if executed properly, will ensure that chances are created.
City had 28 efforts on goal yesterday, so even if based on the law of averages, future performances of a similar ilk will produce goals, with or without a magician.
The key is obviously continuing in the vein we saw yesterday and improving upon it, especially against teams who are better than Hull City, albeit I have a feeling, based on yesterday, that Liam Rosenior’s team will not be scratching around the relegation zone this season.
Certainly, if the Tigers can provide a decent supply to Liam Delap and he continues to torment and bully defenders in the way he did Ben Gibson yesterday, then it’s not just Norwich City who they’re going to rattle.
But, early days and all that.
What matters to us is, of course, Norwich, not Hull, City and it won’t have gone unnoticed by other teams that our defence still has a mistake in it when the centre-backs are pressurised when in possession.
What happened in the 17th minute was horrible by any metric and can’t just be another cock-up to add to the long and ongoing list. Make it a one-off borne of a bit of early-season rustiness and we’ll all be happy.
But it was a rare blip on an otherwise buoyant performance that didn’t take long to translate into a buoyant and lively crowd. Certain individuals within our club may continue to despise us but ultimately they matter not when there is something tangible to get behind on the pitch, and yesterday we had that.
The second half was less fluent and penetrative than the first, aided by some tiring City limbs and, probably, some imperceptible tactical tweaks from Rosenior that prevented the pleasing ebb and flow of the first, but there were no flailing arms and dropped heads – only a belief that a goal would eventually come if they kept plugging away.
When it did, its source was – based on what we’d seen for 95 minutes – most unlikely: a raking 40-yarder from Shane Duffy.
But it was his long pass that sent Jack Stacey clear to win what was the corner that ultimately led to Adam Idah’s goal. Hull claimed the ball went out before Stacey managed to hook it across and based on photographic evidence they may be right. But hey…
Hull also claimed the clock had ticked beyond 95 minutes – which it had – but Hull also ignored the ‘minimum of…’ part of the added-on time equation and the fact their keeper was taking an eternity to take goal kicks for most of the second half. So too the time-wasting that Keith Stroud picked up on from minute 17 onwards.
The invaders from East Riding also had a bee in their bonnet about Idah being in an offside position as he gloriously toe-poked the ball home and, again, they may have a point, but we’ve been on the receiving end of so many of those we’re hardly likely to decline the kind offer of a late winner on the basis our visitors thinking it’s just not fair.
We’ll tuck this one away and bring it out the next time we start feeling sorry for ourselves over a refereeing injustice 😀
The noise and celebrations that followed said goal were more than just us celebrating an injury-time winner and were borne of far more than just undiluted joy. Far more. And far more than the fact we’d seen a goal and a win.
As melodramatic as it may sound, there’s been a lot of angst, frustration, and pain over the last two seasons, and this was a glorious little glimpse into what it can be like when we unite behind a team that we can see giving its all and which appears to appreciate us.
Let’s hope it turns into something more than just a glimpse.
But it was a good day… and that’s not something I’ve written for a while.
Other random observations of a soggy, uplifting, and rather splendid day…
- Shane Duffy is a big ‘un who’ll come into his own on days when we come under lots of pressure and he can defend rather than have the ball at his feet.
- Jon Rowe has a swagger about him that only certain players can carry off. And a left foot that can open a tin of peas.
- Jack Stacey likes a tackle (which I didn’t know) and will do the Max Aarons role differently to Max Aarons.
- Ashley Barnes is one of those player/referees that have annoyed the hell out of us over the years. We’ve badly lacked a player/referee.
- We should make the most of Gabi Sara while we still can.
- Sarge will learn from Barnes, especially around making that ball stick when back to goal.
- Idah needed that goal. Hopefully, his confidence will have been buoyed by it. He too will learn from Barnes.
- Despite Stuart Webber refusing to believe it, Carrow Road can be a noisy place.
So… a good one at the Carra. One that meant something. We don’t really do opening-day wins so to buck that trend off the back of such a period of grimness was a fillip we all desperately needed.
Please can this not be a one-off?