Spud Thornhill: A fond farewell to the strangest of seasons

Andrew Crofts of Norwich scores his sides second goal at Barnsley

Andrew Crofts bangs in a magnificent second goal as Norwich City win 2-0 at Barnsley in February, 2011 - on their way back to the Premier League - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Image Ltd

Back in August when the fixture list was released, I remember looking to see who we had on the final day.

When I saw it was Barnsley, away, I remember being happy with that fixture for so many reasons. 

I love an away day at Barnsley, it’s a cracking trip and we always take a big following to Yorkshire. In 2002 we had 6,000 Canaries in their massive away end - we beat them 2-0 on our way to the play-offs. In my six visits to Oakwell I’ve seen four away wins, and so many great goals,  none more memorable as Andrew Crofts' Fashanu-esque one in 2011.  


Paul McVeigh celebrates after scoring against Barnsley in April 2002 - Credit: Archant

My brother and fellow Canary Paul lives only an hour away, so it would be a great opportunity for a family weekend away. I predicted back in August we would win promotion or the title at Barnsley - I got that bit wrong. 

I was confident that Covid would be a thing of the past and we would all be there - so many things to enjoy and look forward to about this fixture. It would be even more special as it is my birthday. It was written in the stars.  

But no. Like all bar one of 45 games of this season, I’ll be sitting in my lounge watching it on TV. 

Despite not being able to do something that I cherish and love, it’s still been a season to remember. Not the best ever as a fan, as we've not been there, but it’s definitely not the worst.  

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Going back to August, just a few weeks after our depressing end to the previous season, there was no panic or stress by anybody at Carrow Road, from the board to the players via Daniel Farke and Stuart Webber.  

There have been so many clubs, including us, who have been relegated from the Premier League over the years and struggled to cope with trying to return, even if some think with parachute money it should be a formality. But anyone with an ounce of football knowledge will tell you it’s not as easy as that.  

Later on this month, on May 25, it will be my little girl Amelia’s fourth birthday. The day she was born will be a day I will always cherish. It will also be a day every Norwich fan should cherish. Because on that exact morning when Amelia arrived into this world, Daniel Farke arrived at Carrow Road.  

In those four years, there have been many times when both have brought me so much joy and excitement into my life, especially this season.  

Amelia may not understand the offside rule or have the dreaded thought of us having to put up with VAR next season or appreciate the beautiful football Farke has given us. She won’t be able to tell her children or grandchildren in years to come how fantastic the team of 2020/21 was, but for most of the games this season,  she has enjoyed being with me in the lounge. Even if she is playing with her toys whilst I am watching Norwich, she has enjoyed seeing me cheer another goal and pick her up to jump up and down as we celebrated.  

I don’t think we’ll be able to truly appreciate how good this team is until years to come. But however much I’m gutted I’m not at Oakwell, I will raise my glass to the champions and thank everybody for bringing me so much joy in these difficult times.  

As another season closes, I would like to take the opportunity to thank everybody at Archant, especially Chris Lakey, for giving me the opportunity to write about all things yellow and green. I hope you readers have enjoyed reading my articles as much as I have writing them.  

Have a great summer and hopefully I’ll see you back at Carra Rud and the Premier League in August.  


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