David Hannant: Queen, The Beatles, Norwich City? Why being Christmas Number One could be crucial
PUBLISHED: 17:00 05 December 2018 | UPDATED: 10:23 06 December 2018
Eastern Daily Press © 2004
Bohemian Rhapsody, Another Brick in the Wall, Mr Blobby...
What do all these songs have in common?
I’ll throw a few more at you - Killing In The Name, Can We Fix it, just about every god awful cover version hodgepodged together by a winner of that woeful singing competition.
I’m speaking of course about Christmas Number Ones - the coveted(ish) spot at the top of the music charts on December 25.
Some of the biggest names in music’s history have claimed the accolade since the charts began. However, this is no music column.
So just how does this tie in with Norwich City, I hear you ask - presuming you’re still with me.
Well, we are in December and - as it stands - Norwich City sit atop of the tree, like the stars we are.
And while I’m simultaneously guilty of both counting my chickens and diving under the mistletoe to deliver the kiss of death, I thought I’d delve into the recent history books and see just how much gravatus being number one at Christmas is in the Championship world.
The answer is - quite a lot.
So much so that you would be forgiven for thinking if City cling on to top spot for three more games, they would have a real psychological edge heading into the remainder of the season.
Since the turn of the century, 15 out of 18 league leaders on Christmas Day have gone on to clinch promotion.
Out of these 15, 11 have gone on to also be crowned Champions.
In fact, you have to go back all the way to the 2007/08 season to find the last time the Christmas Number One failed to convert leadership into promotion.
For those wondering, it wasn’t us, it was Watford.
The last time City held the top spot at Yuletide was in 2003/04.
The day after, Darren Huckerby was wiping tears from his eyes as he was unveiled as a Norwich City player on a permanent basis - the Christmas miracle we still sing about every December. We all know what happened that season.
Last year, Wolves were top at Christmas. Champions.
The year before, it was Newcastle United. Champions.
It was Boro’s turn in 2015/16. While they let the title slip through their fingers, they still went up as runners-up.
Bournemouth clinched both promotion and the title in 2014/15, while Burnley were promoted the season prior to that.
In fact, since the turn of the century (which I decided was a logical place to start) only three festive table-toppers failed.
I’ve already touched on Watford in 2007/08. In 2001/02, Burnley failed to convert leadership into promotion, while in 2004/05 it was a certain team who wear blue and will almost certainly spend this Christmas bottom of the pile.
I would spend the same time working out what being bottom at Noel means, but I’ll let the tracker boys worry about that!
Of course, with the almighty Leeds United breathing down our necks their is no guarantee City will still be at the summit come Christmas Day, but with three very winnable games ahead, there is a fairly good possibility.
Pair this with Leeds facing a daunting trip to Villa Park in a game that will no doubt have national pundits squealing like a child who has just been given a puppy on Christmas morning, and it could well happen.
And while I’d gladly sack off being top at Christmas for being top in May, history shows it is a pretty advantageous position.
Sitting top of the tree at Christmas is far more than just a good omen for whoever is there.
As by this point, everybody will have played everybody once - it is the exact mid-way point.
And to be able to say while raising a glass of mulled wine that you have won the first half of the season, what reason is there not to believe you can win the second half of it as well? No reason.
After all, we’ve seen so far just how much better City are in second halves than first halves...
We’ve seen in recent weeks that Daniel Farke has no doubt instilled a huge amount of belief in his side. But being top at the halfway point would be the brandy on the pudding to say the least.
Obviously this is a long way from being a foregone conclusion.
We’ve seen in the last few weeks how we are marked men now - teams are approaching games against Norwich City differently.
Hull did a good job of cutting off supply and on a different day, Rotherham could have also made us come unstuck. They were a post’s width away from going in at half time two goals up.
It won’t be easy, however, we are just three games away from making the biggest statement of Daniel Farke’s tenure so far.
And after all, if Mr Blobby, Bob the Builder and Ed Sheeran can do it, why can’t we?
Hurry back, Mo
While four points from two games without Mo Leitner was a decent return, I would still throw him back into the mix as soon as he is fit.
When it came to light he was injured, I was filled with the same amount of dread as I was when Grant Hanley had his big lay-up.
However, the four points from the last two games do slightly flatter to deceive in terms of how important the German is.
Everything just happens so much more seamlessly with him in the side.
Defence becomes attack quicker, we get in behind quicker and things just generally tick over more.
Mo’s sheer speed of thought is second to none at this level, and certainly against Hull there was a slight lack of impetus without him.
That is not to say the lads aren’t doing a good job in his absence, but we’re always going to be better with him than without.
While he has plenty - and I mean plenty - of competition, he’s been City’s player of the season so far, for me.
No Derby for me...
I love a good cup draw - maybe even more than the actual cup games.
However, while most things I have read suggest people are pretty happy with Pompey at home, I was a bit disappointed.
In all honesty, there was only one potential outcome I would have been happy with - Ipswich Town at home.
This is solely for selfish reasons - nothing else.
For I made the fatal error of booking a holiday during the season, before the fixtures were announced.
As a consequence, I will be missing only the second East Anglian Derby at Carrow Road of my 20-ish years as a season ticket holder.
So while the draw gave us a home tie against a team in blue, it wasn’t the one I was desperate to get.
Now, my hopes of attending a Carrow Road Derby hinge on us both making it through to the fourth round and being miraculously paired up. Which relies on an even more unlikely happenstance - Ipswich winning a game.
So, basically, I guess there’s no Derby for me this season.
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