I’ve been called a happy clapper plenty of times this season and maybe I am, but I couldn’t care less. This season has made it more clear to me than ever that maybe I support Norwich City for different reasons to other fans, I think we all have our own narrative to why we enjoy supporting the club we fell in love with.
Just over three years ago my Dad passed away, and then shortly after my Nanny passed away. I was a 17 year old kid knee deep in A level revision while trying to juggle a few jobs and scared as to what the future would bring as a teenage lad without his Dad about. Navigating through this point of your life is hard enough with all well in your life, with a little bit of turmoil it’s even tougher.
Looking back now I’m not overly sure how I dealt with them months that passed, me and Mum often say now that ‘you don’t know how strong you are until you’re really put up against it’ and I think that’s true. However it wasn’t just luck and making sure I had a stiff upper lip, I genuinely believe Norwich City and the people surrounding our beautiful club had a big part to play.
I know a lot of people who’ve lost parents at a young age and gone off the rails and I get why, going through that kind of pain with no knowledge of how to deal with it can break a person. The lack of guidance as to what to do and when to do it can be terrifying, you have to trust your instinct and take it one day at a time, but how can you do that when you’re young and the support network maybe isn’t there to guide you through the rollercoaster that is grief?
I think there’s three things in life that if you have, you’ll be happier because of it. They’re structure, purpose and always having something to look forward to doing. Norwich City provided all three of them for me.
TalkNorwichCity was still a little side hustle back in 2015 but still had a half decent following and I took great care in the project. March 25th 2015 is a horrible blurred memory in my head but I remember sitting down in my office at home, turning the camera on and speaking to it. 6 hours previous to this I’d been awoken with the news that my Dad had passed away – I’m not sure what made me turn the camera on and speak, but I just had to, I guess it was my kind of therapy, it cleared that blur on the brain. I’ve never ever watched that video back and I never will, but I’ll also never delete it as it marked a big moment in my life.
My wonderful girlfriend Jen who if it wasn’t for Norwich City I also wouldn’t know (that’s another story) is brilliant with me and often gently asks me questions to get me speaking about things (boys are rubbish at sharing their thoughts and we need to get better at it). We spoke the other week about why I made that video, I think deep down it was to let everyone know about the news. It meant that it lessened the chances of seeing someone on the street that you know and them asking ‘how’s your Dad’ and having to reply with the gut-wrenching reply ‘he passed away the other week’.
2015 may have been a tough one for me personally but it was a simply glorious one for City on the pitch. We played some of the best football since Paul Lambert under Alex Neil and got promoted back to the Premier League in the most fairytale fashion.
Dad had stopped coming to Carrow Road midway through that season because he wasn’t fit enough to do so. Mum then took the reign of his season ticket and enjoyed some of the best few months of football that Carrow Road has seen in recent times (she’s hardly been back since that season – glory hunter). Despite the carnage that was my life at the time, every Tuesday and Saturday I had 90 minutes of pure clarity, pure enjoyment and surrounded by people that were all there for the same reason. The other five days of the week I was looking forward to what was on the horizon and I was still putting together my silly little TNC videos.
Since that season we had a rollercoaster season in the Premier League with Dieumerci Mbokani leading the line and then a complete flop in the Championship where Alex Neil lost the dressing room early doors and everything turned a little toxic, that season was no fun at all. The introduction of Stuart Webber and Daniel Farke has re-energised me though, it’s a project to get behind, it’s something different, it’s a bunch of players who care, it’s a project for the younger players to develop under, it’s a system in which the fans are held in high regard.
I’m not deluded, finishing 14th in a fairly average division is no success, but I saw enough last season to give it more time. I’m a great believer in patience and I think the foundations are set for us to kick on as a club now. I can’t see us ever being an established top six Premier League club, but do we really want to? We didn’t fall in love with our fine club because of our success, we fell in love with it because everyone is accepted, we’re One City Strong, we help people through tougher times in their life and most of the time we don’t even know we’re doing it.
It often makes me laugh as a football fan of a yo-yo club that when we’re in the Championship we’re so desperate for promotion that we often don’t appreciate the journey it takes for us to get there. So many of my favourite times supporting Norwich have been them away trips to Rotherham, the draws at Burton, the hard fought victories at Bristol. I’ve yet to experience more dull away days than trips to the soulless Etihad or paying over the odds to get beaten by a sole Danny Welbeck goal at the Emirates. Give me a long trip to Oakwell over Old Trafford any day of the week.
I completely understand if you’re frustrated with City at the moment, please don’t let me tell you how to feel about the club you support, but I’m more than up for giving this project time and I’m just glad I support a club that helped get me through the toughest time I’m probably ever likely to experience in my life.
I have no idea if any of this makes sense but I fancied scribbling some words down because I’m so very grateful for all of you. Thanks for being there when I needed it and I’m proud to call Norwich City my club. One City Strong x