David Hannant: Norwich City's title charge is a Hollywood film in the making
PUBLISHED: 12:00 11 March 2019
With a film about a Norwich wrestling family tearing up the box office, a Norwich actress ruling the roost at the Oscars and a Norfolk beach set to feature in a summer release, the eyes of the film world are very much honed in on our neck of the woods at the moment.
The wider world is waking up to the wonder of our parts. Dare I say we’re becoming fashionable?
It may be a passing fancy, but if that isn’t the case, might I suggest Hollywood doesn’t have far to look to find the next Norfolk tale to light up the big screen.
After all, what movie-lover doesn’t gravitate towards your classic against all odds and all expectations tale of over-achieving in sport.
If Norwich City complete the job and lift the Championship title it would no doubt tick all the boxes for a feel good sports flick.
In fact, City’s plight this season reminds me very much of an already existing film starring Brad Pitt called Moneyball.
Based on a true story, it follows a remarkable story of American baseball team Oakland Athletics.
Having just suffered a crushing defeat, the A’s found themselves losing several key players but facing near-crippling financial turmoil and a limited budget.
The side are therefore forced to get smart with recruitment and resort to a deep-lying analytical approach - bringing in players based on statistics, strengths and attributes needed to build a team - rather than splashing the cash.
Sounding familiar yet?
Through meticulous scouting they unearth hidden gems, bond as a team and despite coming up against teams with far greater financial muscle and clinch a title.
Apologies to anybody I may have spoiled part of the film’s plot for, but it is based on true events. While I’m at it I may as well spoil the ending to Titanic too - it sinks.
I definitely see more than a hint of the Moneyball approach to Norwich City’s recruitment and we seem to be seeing a similar outcome too.
But this season’s Hollywood appeal doesn’t end here - there’s so much more about the campaign that would make a juicy picture.
There’s definitely drama - a whole lot of that. While in recent weeks the style of win has become slightly more routine, there has been plenty of grandstand finishes, defeats grabbed from the jaws of defeat and so on. Grit.
There’s been controversy - the Spygate subplot at Leeds would add spice to the affair.
And speaking of affairs, what about the love story everyone has been talking about, between Onel Hernandez and, well, Argos. That ticks romance and comic relief.
So much about this Norwich City side at the minute is likeable - there’s an air of humility around the place, from the way the lads interact with fans on social media, to Marco and the boss’s car, to Onel signing Argos catalogues.
This all bodes well for me - all too much in this day and age footballers take themselves way too seriously. So many are seen as brands, hugely image conscious and calculated. This Norwich City side doesn’t feel like that at all.
And this element of fun also bodes well in the title chase - would players feeling the pressure be quite so outgoing? I doubt that.
Against Swansea on Friday, we didn’t necessarily see the greatest performance against a side who looked far more decent than their 14th place suggests. However, the end result was the same.
It’s quite an old cliché, but a good one nonetheless, that grinding wins out from sub-par displays is what champions do.
And, famous last words, but that’s how I already see this Norwich City side: champions.
At the start of the campaign, I optimistically predicted we would make the playoffs - but in all honesty I was predicting with my heart. Had I allowed my head to make the call I’d probably have said about 10th.
Now, I’d actually be pretty disappointed to go up in second.
But so much of what this side is about now is screaming out the c word - never mind just the p word.
The unity, the work ethic, the quality, all cries out ‘champions’.
While I may firmly have my tongue in cheek about the plight being made into a film, if the job is complete it’s certainly a story I’ll fondly recall. Realistically, it would probably take winning the Premier League next season for Hollywood to come knocking.
But regardless, if this season does end in a league title then, for me, the yarn to spin on it will be the best one in my memory.
So while we can probably put discussions on who should play Daniel Farke on the back burner for now* , let’s grab the popcorn and enjoy the season’s big ending.
*It’s not up for discussion, it’s Ray Winstone, clearly.