Lee Payne: Why Norwich City are just a little bit different to other clubs
There is a lot of doom and gloom around Norwich City Football Club at the moment.
While the effort of the players cannot be questioned, it has become apparent that the squad isn't quite up to the Premier League and relegation - as much as I wish it wasn't - feels inevitable.
I find myself looking for reminders of why it's great to be able to say you are a Norwich fan. Events on the pitch have certainly delighted and exhilarated over the years. Is there a better feeling than the one you get after a win?
But I am looking further. Beyond the white lines.
This week the club received positive press nationwide when it was revealed that 83-year-old Barrie Greaves had left £100 in his will for the Norwich players to have a drink on him.
Barrie had passed away in December and the club released a photo of the squad raising a glass to a devoted supporter. It was a lovely story and an example of how I believe that Norwich are just a little bit different to other clubs.
Barrie clearly felt a real connection between himself and the players he went to watch at Carrow Road, and that's not something every football fan can boast.
In November the ground hosted a public funeral service for Duncan Forbes. Players get very strongly attached to Norwich City. The fans take them to their hearts. Even if they only spend a short time there, they are usually warmly greeted when they return and forever linked to the yellow and green.
Dean Ashton and James Maddison come to mind. But if a player makes more than 300 appearances for Norwich, they are never forgotten and when Big Dunc died the fans felt it like they had lost a close family member.
Forbes had been living with Alzheimer's disease for a number of years. His death resonated with me particularly because the disease is also what took my father away from me.
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I have written about my dad, Ricky, before. This newspaper ran a story about me wearing his old Norwich shirt to Wembley for the play-off final in 2015. February this year will mark six years since he died and it feels right to talk about him and the wonderful times I had with him following Norwich City.
Dad went to most home games for as long as I can remember. He didn't go to away matches, but I can recall him leaving the house at some ungodly hour to travel to Cardiff to watch the play-off final in 2002, which Norwich ultimately lost on penalties to Birmingham.
He took me to a few games in the 2004-05 Premier League season - I hugged him in sheer ecstasy when Leon McKenzie put City 2-0 up against Manchester United.
Just before my 16th birthday in 2008, we both started going to Carrow Road as season ticket holders. We sat in the upper Barclay. Dad had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's in the January of that year. We almost blew the roof off along with everyone else when Simeon Jackson scored that last minute winner against Derby, and we jumped around his living room when we watched Jackson score the winner at Portsmouth on TV a week later to put Norwich in the Premier League again.
A 1-0 defeat to Chelsea on Boxing Day 2012 was the last time he made it to Carrow Road before it just became too difficult for him. In the nearly four-and-a-half years we sat together, we witnessed football in three different divisions.
When I think of my dad, I don't think 'Alzheimer's'. I think 'Norwich City'. And I can't put into words how grateful I am for that. The club gave us so many happy memories during a really difficult time. So I don't really mind which division the club finds itself in - I'm just happy that it's there.
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