Chris Goreham: What is it we really want from a Norwich City away trip?
PUBLISHED: 11:34 06 March 2018
Barnsley’s decision to make an early call to postpone Norwich City’s match at the weekend seemed like an entirely sensible thing to do. At first.
It didn’t feel like such a smart move when we went on air at 2 o’clock on Saturday afternoon on BBC Radio Norfolk as usual.
Sure, Barnsley’s conviction had saved more than a thousand Norwich City supporters from looking The Beast From The East square in the eyes and taking on a potentially slippery journey to south Yorkshire.
It meant an afternoon in the warm rather than putting on several jumpers to tackle the frozen north and it spared us the prospect of having to discover whether Nelson Oliveira, Onel Hernandez or Moritz Leitner could do it on a cold Saturday afternoon at Barnsley.
What it didn’t do was fill any time on the radio. No-one thinks of those of us with four hour shows to produce when they make these decisions.
Norfolk’s entire football fixture list disappeared under all that snow at the weekend.
There was an exciting 15 minutes when we thought we had discovered that Acle United Ladies had a cup match going ahead at Royston but that was postponed just as we went on air.
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There was no choice but to send my esteemed and excellent broadcasting partner Rob Butler on a Winter Olympic style odyssey around Norfolk which took in sledging down St James’ Hill and Skiing at the slope in Trowse. That coupled with a few tunes from the BBC Radio Norfolk record library and some stories from listeners about dealing with the worst of the weather filled our yellow and green hole.
Extraordinary weekends like the one just gone always bring out the old war stories that fans have of matches that were postponed much closer to kick off.
In my commentary career I have had to report back news of call offs at places as exotic as Burnley and Walsall with our coverage already under way.
That time Walsall scorched their Bescot Stadium pitch with a load of braziers in a desperate attempt to unfreeze the playing surface over Christmas in 2009 is one of the stand out memories from that League One season.
It has lived longer in my mind than the 2-1 win Norwich got when the match was eventually played anyway. Then City chief executive David McNally broke the news to our listeners as he skated past the press box and being home from Turf Moor by 7 o’clock on a Saturday night was a welcome bonus in 2007.
One wet patch deemed the pitch unplayable in the eyes of referee Martin Atkinson who escaped the ground without giving any interviews to the bemused members of the media.
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Then there was the Club Canary coach trip to West Brom I took on a Sunday in the mid-1990s.
I remember it really well because we arrived at The Hawthorns just in time to turn round and go back home again after a brief but brutal Baggies’ blizzard claimed the fixture.
Those are three of my most memorable away trips with Norwich City and a ball wasn’t kicked in any of them.
Perhaps we have unearthed the great secret that the football authorities don’t want revealed.
The result is not actually the most important thing when supporters head off for an away game. Of course, it’s great when your team does win on the road, but all you really want to come back with is a decent story to tell your mates.
It turns out that a football match taking place isn’t necessary for that to happen.
Just give us more goals...
Last week I wondered why there had never been a tradition of Norwich City kicking towards The Barclay in the second half of matches.
In case you missed it, the comparison was to The Kop at Anfield, Manchester United’s Stretford End and Crystal Palace’s Holmesdale Stand which all have a reputation for being vocal enough to inspire their respective clubs to great things in the crucial closing stages of games.
My confusion as to why City warm-up in front of the River End, going against the tradition of doing so in front of the noisiest end of the ground, has prompted some interesting theories.
Some, including James from The Norwich City Historical Trust, got in touch to tell me that there is a deep rooted preference of that River End goal because for many years it was literally downhill. I had never realised that the ground used to slope in that direction although James points out that it was levelled in 1993.
This means that City’s best ever season, when they came third in the inaugural Premier League, was the last one played with the benefit of a sloping pitch. Perhaps this is the real reason it all went wrong so quickly but that is a conspiracy theory for another day.
Canaries captain Russell Martin also sent a message to confirm that the sun setting below the River End and into the eyes of whichever side defends The Barclay in the first half is a big reason that, even on a level playing field, kicking that way round is seen as a potential disadvantage but sunny days during the football season are few and far between so it is not always a consideration.
It certainly won’t be a factor against Nottingham Forest this evening.
By far the most common reaction has been to the alarming fact that Norwich have only scored five league goals in front of The Barclay so far this season.
River Enders should not be feeling smug despite their 12-goal bonanza. Several Barclay regulars have pointed out that having Timm Klose’s East Anglian Derby heroics in front of them made up for any lack of goal mouth action at that end. It seems that quality and not quantity is the biggest factor when the friendly civil war between the two ends of Carrow Road is being fought. Everyone agrees that we just need more goals, no matter where they go in.