Search

Melissa Rudd: Just being able to enjoy games again would be a step forward for City fans

PUBLISHED: 18:13 22 July 2020

Teemu Pukki was able to celebrate 29 goals in the Championship last season - more than the 26 Norwich have managed in the Premier League 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Teemu Pukki was able to celebrate 29 goals in the Championship last season - more than the 26 Norwich have managed in the Premier League Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Paul Chesterton

You know that feeling when you miss out on getting a job, then convince yourself you didn’t want it anyway? Or try and order something you really want only to discover it’s out of stock and then kid yourself it would have been a waste of money?

You know that feeling when you miss out on getting a job, then convince yourself you didn’t want it anyway? Or try and order something you really want only to discover it’s out of stock and then kid yourself it would have been a waste of money?

That’s the spin I have found myself trying to put on this latest relegation.

There are many fans who genuinely enjoy Championship football more than the Premier League. I met one on a Club Canary coach to Sunderland in 2004. It was to be the night Norwich were crowned Division One champions, having already sealed automatic promotion. This supporter hadn’t missed a game all season. I said I couldn’t wait to go to the likes of Old Trafford in a few months’ time.

“Well…I won’t be going to any games come August. Premier League football isn’t for me, don’t like it to be honest. I much prefer this division.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was 12 years old and had never experienced any Norwich City success first hand, those halcyon days of the Uefa Cup came before football had entered my consciousness. I had started going to Carrow Road in 1996, when the ground was only half full most weeks.

This was to be my first taste of watching Norwich mix it with the big boys and the thought of not wanting to go and watch your team compete in the best league was completely unfathomable to me. I couldn’t wait to trek up and down the country to cheer them on. Even if back then it meant enduring achingly long coach journeys every other week.

Fast-forward a year, and I hadn’t seen a single Norwich win on the road that campaign. I began to see why life in the Premier League wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Football is, after all, supposed to be fun. Watching it being played in an empty stadium with an atmosphere created by someone operating a sound mixing desk just isn’t. Watching your team score goals is fun. City did that 93 times last season. You’d have to combine all three of their last top flight seasons to reach the same number.

Of course this time around, the contrast could barely have been more stark between what we enjoyed last season and what we have had to endure this. But even a mid-table Championship finish in 2017-18 provided almost double the number of goals as we have seen in the past 11 months, and three times the amount of victories.

There isn’t much joy in watching your team get beaten most weeks, the fact it is sometimes by teams littered with world class players is little comfort. Even if Norwich don’t challenge for promotion next season they’re far more likely to win more games than they lose.

Another positive consequence of being comfortably the worst team in the league? Not having to put up with VAR next season. Remember how incandescent with rage you were after Teemu Pukki’s stunning goal against Spurs was chalked off because one angle of one of the projected lines suggested part of his big toe may have been offside?

How nice it will be to celebrate a goal knowing it won’t be pored over by officials in front of a screen at Stockley Park before it officially stands.

Far more weekend games will adhere to the traditional 3pm Saturday kick-off. That makes it easier for arranging a social life around the fixture list if nothing else.

Yet in this current climate it seems futile to even be dreaming of a day at the football. If crowds are allowed back in stadiums in October, what will the match day experience be like? We will surely have to wait much longer before thousands of away fans are permitted to travel across the country to follow their side on a Saturday.

After the past few months, just being able to enjoy the sport again will feel like an achievement.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Norwich Evening News. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Related articles

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Norwich Evening News