LFW Awaydays β Norwich, Carrow Road Thu 20th Jan 2011 10:31 by Awaydays
New Year’s Day took the Northern R’s to Norwich, although after what had gone on the night before it probably shouldn’t have done.
On the pitch
QPR were left to count the cost of a lacklustre first half display when improved efforts after the break were undermined by the sending off of Matt Connolly. Norwch took an early lead, Russell Martin cracking in a rebound off Paddy Kenny after Chris Martin had been allowed to run right through the heart of the QPR defence.
Norwich, in superb form coming into the game, were much the better of the two teams in the first half prompting two half time changes and a reshuffle from Neil Warnock at half time. The introduction of Bradley Orr and Patrick Agyemang seemed to have some effect to begin with but then a lazy back pass from Gorkss and a poor clearance from Kenny gifted Norwich dangerous possession and after being played in behind the Rangers’ backline Grant Holt did what Grant Holt does – hit the deck theatrically and then watched on as Matt Connolly was sent off for the second time in as many appearances on this ground. Holt was a constant pest, both in his play and his play acting, throughout this game.
The match then developed a manic quality with the ten men pushing for an equaliser, and coming agonisingly close when Agyemang headed against the outside of the post, but leaving themselves wide open at the other end. How the game stayed 1-0 God only knows – QPR were unlucky on a couple of occasions including a penalty appeal that was given as a free kick on the edge but looked like it was at least on the line while at the other end Norwich were in wasteful mood and Kenny in flying form. This game was in the balance right through to the last minute of injury time when a QPR attack was broken up and Kenny saved one on one with the otherwise outstanding Hoolahan.
QPR looked like they might have been capable of taking something from it had they kept 11 on the pitch, such was the spirited nature of the second half performance, but they wasted the first half and were made to pay for that.
Carrow Road is just about the least threatening ground we go to in any Championship season. One thing I always notice on the highlights is that when goals go in at the far end of the ground the supporters just sort of slowly get to their feet and clap politely in celebration. Be it the large swathes of yellow, the disproportionately high amount of middle aged and elderly couples coming to the game together in their knitted scarves, or the Canaries nickname it’s all about as intimidating as going to an under 12s match in Henley on Thames.
Which all made the attempt to “whip up” the crowd before the game rather laughable. Norwich do this by going around the ground on the public address system, not in the abjectly embarrassing “good afternoon Coventry Evening Telegraph stand” style of the Ricoh Arena but not far off, encouraging all fans to get up, including those in the “snake pit” stop sniggering at the back, and join in with the club anthem ‘On The Ball City’. Not since Charlton started singing ‘Red, Red Robin’ has a club anthem been quite as camp as ‘On The Ball City’. The lyrics to ‘On The Ball City’ are, and do try not to soil yourself in pure fear as you read this…
Kick off, throw in, have a little scrimmage,
Keep it low, a splendid rush, bravo, win or die;
On the ball, City, never mind the danger,
Steady on, now's your chance,
Hurrah! We've scored a goal.
City!, City!, City!
Hmmm, indeed. Now imagine this being sung by more vociferous fans Norwich have, who mass to the right of the away end and stand throughout. A good 1,500 grown men, their faces contorted with rage, their arms outstretched with passion, spit flailing forth from their lips as they scream at the QPR fans: “Keep it low, a splendid rush, bravo, win or die.”
If that wasn’t funny enough, and trust me it was, we then found ourselves sitting a few rows in front of an Irish gentleman in the away end who decided to commentate, at great speed and volume, on the game as it developed. Occasionally he would break off from merely describing the action to deliver performance hints and tips to the players: “kick him in the legs, go ahn he wants ya t’kick him, give him a little kick,” and so on. And when the game got really dull or unsatisfactory he would simply commentate on the game he wished he was watching: “and dey clear t’corner right outta dere, and Agyemang picks it up, and runs widit, and shoots, and he scores t’goal. AGYEMANG” followed by fake celebrations.
Needless to say his game sounded much more interesting than the one we actually ended up watching.
Marks off the police and stewards for persistent attempts to force QPR fans to sit down when 2,000 Norwich fans to our right were allowed to stand throughout.
Scores >>> QPR support 7/10 >>> Home support 7/10 >>> Overall atmosphere 7/10 >>> Stadium 8/10 >>> Police and stewards 4/10
On the road
I spent the entire Christmas period threatening to harpoon anybody who promotes the idea of a winter break straight in the eye. Nobody did really, apart from people like Steve Bruce who lost stupid home matches to poor teams and subsequently tried to blame the fixture congestion rather than his own team’s shortcomings. But still, harpoon, you’ve been warned.
However, and this is a big moment for me, maybe four games in a week was a little excessive. Quite apart from the damage it may have done to our promotion chances asking the likes of Shaun Derry to battle on through all that football, lots of it played with ten men, and the money it costs to get to and from these games in such a short period of time when other loved ones selfishly want presents buying and things, New Year’s Day is for hangover recovery.
When I was younger I used to love all the football at this time of year, and never really understood the gruff and unshaven faces in our group complaining so bitterly about getting up early on New Year’s Day to go and watch QPR play. What could be better? Well, now I’m old enough to understand, plenty of things. At 1am on New Year’s Day I was doing that silly linked arm drunk jigging thing people do to Come on Eileen by Dexy’s Midnight Runners while dressed as a Mexican. I was still dressed as a Mexican, and still awake, at 4am, which meant the alarm came as quite a shock when it sounded at half seven. “People have been sectioned for less than this,” said Lindsey as she rolled over and went back to sleep. Owain was similarly unsympathetic, although unfortunately for him he’d already purchased a match and train ticket so had to get up too.
We arrived at Kings Cross in good time – I felt an evil combination of tired, sick and cold as we waited to see if indeed any of the First Capital Connect drivers were intending to turn up for work. With a variety of trains clicking round to ‘Cancelled’ due to a driver shortage ours steadfastly remained, had it been cancelled we would have had a decent excuse not to go but the bloody thing insisted on running. Owain had a bacon sandwich and I had a packet of Trebor Mints which, for future reference if you see me scoffing a pack, means I’m quite likely to vomit at any moment. I find the chalky texture and refreshing taste settles my stomach, although there have been notable incidents where this has failed. All over Sheffield Super Tram conductors for instance.
Anyway not only was our train running, but it also did that really, really, really convenient and not at all irritating thing where it sits at the platform ready to go for 20 minutes before we were actually allowed to get on it. When the platform was called, some five minutes before departure time, staff started shouting and telling us to rush to board as it was ready to leave. Why do train companies do this? Why do they leave them sitting there empty until the last possible minute and then force everybody to rush to get on? What is achieved other than mass irritation? “It’s to allow them to be cleaned” said a platform attendant as I grumbled my way past him before boarding and picking up a copy of the Metro from December 22 just to render his laughable point utterly, utterly worthless. There was something floating around in the toilet that looked like it had been there a lot longer as well. The Swiss would laugh at us if they knew we ran a railway like this. Bastards.
Railway companies that is, not the Swiss, they’re tremendously tolerant people.
Because this was a match at a holiday period, and nobody wants to travel in a holiday period, Liverpool Street station was closed while some men failed to clock in and dig up the lines. Rather than tackle the network of replacement bus services where even the timetable looked like one of the more challenging levels from the Krypton Factor we decided to go from Kings Cross, change at Ely and then across.
Ely, as it turned out, was closed – the whole town that is, not just the railway station. We stood on the platform for half an hour and stared out across the rain sodden flats leading out across the seventh level of hell and contemplated where it had all gone wrong. Then the Norwich train arrived.
On the way back we were left to wait for the train for sometime on Norwich train station where, by the looks of the track, they’d successfully cleared the toilet from our earlier train with spectacular consequences. It was a change at Cambridge this time – an odd station with only one through platform stretching three miles through the town centre and a number of bay platforms. You can connect almost immediately with a London train here, although in their wisdom they put the Norwich train on a platform at the north end of the station, which is actually closer to Kings Lynn than Cambridge, and the London train leaves from the south end down near Stansted Airport. We ran, but we missed it. A Norwich fan who ran with us swore quite passionately as he saw the London train disappearing off into the distance – he’s been doing that sprint every Norwich home game for 12 years he told us later, and never made it once. You’ve got to admire the guy’s optimism for still trying.
I’d like to say that I fell soundly asleep on the London train, but the only seats left were next to the dividing doors in the middle of the train that opened with a loud hissing noise whenever somebody approached and remained open, and hissing, until they were physically man handled shut. That, it turns out, was the job of the person sitting in my seat but after the first three quarters of a million times I gave up, pulled up my hood, closed my eyes and prayed for some sort of hideous train wreck that would put us all out of our misery and leave the swines at First Capital Connect faced with a massive compensation claim that would keep my family comfortable for the rest of their lives without me.
Scores >>> Journey 4/10 >>> Cost 4/10
In the pub
Against our better judgement the Northern R’s did indeed brave a public house when we arrived in Norwich. Angered by the lack of Sky and ludicrous policy of serving drinks in plastic glasses by steaks with steak knives at the Compleat Angler we agreed to look elsewhere this year and fortunately Colin and Nick had arrived before us and sussed out the Coach and Horses just around the corner from the station. Paul and I had tried this place a season or two back and found it to be accommodating but lacking live football so it was a relief to find the West Brom v Man Utd game live on a number of screens around the place.
The first Becks did little for me, although a really quite tasty and well priced chilli burger did settle me down a little bit. Owain spent the entire pre-match ensconced in the toilet praying so he was beyond help by this stage. West Brom were a bit unlucky in the game I thought, although that could be a complete load of bollocks to be honest because having assumed what looked to be a perfect position at a table in front of the screen three very large Norwich fans then came and stood in front of me, and then moved to stand in front of me again when I changed sides of the table. I don’t think they were doing it deliberately – I think they were probably just thick, selfish pricks.
I’ll nevertheless give the place good marks. The food was good, there was a wide range of drinks and it was all well priced. It’s taken us a while to find a good pub in Norwich but this one might just be it.
West Brom were a bit unlucky in the game I thought, although that could be a complete load of bollocks to be honest because having assumed what looked to be a perfect position at a table in front of the screen three very large Norwich fans then came and stood in front of me, and then moved to stand in front of me again when I changed sides of the table. I donβt think they were doing it deliberately β I think they were probably just thick, selfish pricks. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
No - they were probably doing it on purpose because you're a fatuous and arrogant northerner!
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Pure hilarity...we're the camp ones? You're the ones called Queens Park Rangers! Not only is it the campest of all names in the football league, you also have a stadium you can't fill so how can you be more intimidating than us (I bet all the players love playing in front of a 3/4 full stadium when they couldn't be in a better position in their current league...very inspiring)?! I thought your article was ok prior to your visit...now you've just shown why you can't make it as a decent journalist by allowing disappointment to cloud your judgement. 1-0...which have been more, and we should have beaten you on your own turf.
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"...just shown why you can't make it as a decent journalist"? Are you mad? Read the match preview and report if you want to see why Clive's considered a decent journalist. It's an opinion piece on an experience of an away day from the perspective of an away fan who's paid a lot of money and incredibly hungover. Losing or otherwise, as someone who was at that game too, I agree that the "on the ball city" song is a pretty weird one, lyrically, to be sung by people looking all angry - I went to the game with a Norwich fan who thinks the exact same thing. No idea why you've taken it so personally.
And it's pretty weird for you to make that point about attendances. If you actually go through the message board or previous reports here, you can see a range of opinions about our fanbase, whether we make enough noise, querying why we aren't packing the place when we're top of the league etc. But the most brute point about it is that we're a West London club a few miles between Chelsea, Brentford and Fulham, who charge silly prices for tickets considering there is Premiership football/cheaper lower division football on our door step. Now compare that to Norwich - you have your derby game with Ipswich which is just under 40 miles away. You have a gigantic catchment area, it's like being a Leeds or Newcastle fan. It would be a disgrace if you weren't getting the attendances you do.
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I haven't taken it personally, I wrote that giggling at how poor this piece is...you've said yourself he's a good journalist and then proceeded to say it was a piece of work written when incredibly hungover...interesting concept.
That's the beauty of our song...it's the oldest song in football...it's pure tripe and no one knows the words properly (and we all know it, hence the conviction).
PS. We have 150,000 in Norwich,...you have 12.5million in greater london. Now your point about attendances is pretty stupid.
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Its at times like these that I am embarrassed to hail from East Anglia. Why are you getting so annoyed? Its a piece of journalism written from a QPR fans perspective which is both funny and from our point of view accurate. If you don't like it that isn't our problem!
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The awayday reviews are simply a lighthearted look at life travelling around the country watching a crap football team from a miserable bstrd's point of view. They're colour pieces and not to be taken too seriously.
I've had a scan read of this piece again and really the only things I can see that I've said negatively is that three fat selfish pillocks spent two hours in the pub doing their best to stop me watching the TV game and On The Ball City is a bit of an odd chant to be bellowed in such an aggressive and passionate way. I know it's been around for 100 years and whatever but I wasn't questioning the history of it, I was just saying it's a bit of an odd one. You say yourself it's pure tripe, how have I said anything different?
The only thing I regret not writing here is that I gave the QPR support 7/10 despite it being rather quiet because Norwich charged us Β£33 a ticket, plus the Β£3.50 booking fee at our end, meaning it was roughly Β£70 for me and my mate to go and watch Championship football and with no direct trains either I think any QPR fan who actually did that on New Year's Day is a hero.
I also note with interest that it's not such a horrendous piece to stop you spending a couple of hours commenting on it.
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You're missing my point about it being from a hungover perspective - I meant that it works because it's a realistic opinion piece, that's the entire reason it is different from the match reports, but it's a completely different type of journalism.
And that point about population doesn't really stack up - by using Greater London you are factoring in a huge area with loads and loads of football teams (I doubt you need me to list the amount of teams in London). People gravitate to London for work from allover the place compared to somewhere like Norwich, so a big lot of people there weren't necessarily born in the area they live, or even in the city at all, so don't necessarily have the compulsion to support their team (e.g. I grew up in West London, I now live in the East, where I have West Ham and Leyton Orient as the local teams - vice versa, I have friends who live half a mile from Loftus Road for work reasons from allover Britain who have no affection for QPR at all). Whereas Norwich have a catchment area of much of the East Anglian region - just like Forest's fan base spans out to places like Mansfield etc.
As a second tier club in a huge city, we also have a hell of a lot more competition for things to do locally than Norwich do, outside of better local teams than our own. If you're a young family living in Shepherds Bush, your options for stuff to do in the capital city is ridiculous compared to Norwich (which is a place I personally think is lovely). If you think 12.5million is a relevant catchment area figure, you must be mental.
Anyway, I have no idea why I've taken the time out to ramble about this - you said yourself that that on the ball city song is weird, you know it, we know it. Have a sense of humour, no-ones knocking your history or your (very impressive) home support, it's a pretty obvious observation. You must get a heart attack going on other fan sites.
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Keep getting drawn in as the editor of the Norwich forum, so here's my tuppence-worth. We aint journalists, we are supporters. Regardless of what our day jobs are. Try as we might to be factual, we are writing as supporters, and the views here are those of a QPR supporter. Why some people feel a need to resort to language not suitable for a family site is beyond me. Act your age and debate like adults. As for carrots, they are still quite plentiful. Whereas ells are said to be getting in short supply for all you Cocker knees.
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"the campest of all names in the football league" / "you've just shown why you can't make it as a decent journalist". You started the abuse, we just came down to your level.
Don't come on here and start slagging off a hardworking guy, who travels the length of the country to see his team play, and has time to write all of this quality content - unpaid - and then cry when we take exception to your comments! We were hardly going to take it lying down!
As for the comments on Norwich, I think anything about carrots and pigs is pretty light-hearted - same as with eels for cockneys.
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Oh Grow up the lot of you. Norwich don't pretend to be some crack/pcp fuelled hotbed of intimidation, try Besiktas for that
Even so, I would observe with interest any of you venturing into the derided Snakepit, so lets get real here....
fair Play to Warnock (cant stand the bloke) and QPR, its good football, so I'd rather see you go up than say Watford who still seem to thrive on the long ball retarded tactics of Graham Taylor even if Malky is still to this day a Norwich favourite (odd though if you'd read the message boards of his day slagging off his lack of pace).
As for 'On the Ball City', we're actually very proud of that song being the oldest in footy WORLDWIDE.. yes its bollox, but we like it, its our history/culture/identity so get over it
Its also true we have a commutable catchment area of just under 150,000. There are not many clubs who would sell out 25000 week in week out in league one so give us some credit, we've endured as much pain if not more than yourselves over the last few years. 20,000+ season ticket holders (again) regardless of whether they are asbo holding pit bull breading leccies or middle aged families with tartan blankets and thermos flasks, football at Norwich aint cheap these days thanks to our new chief exec McNumpty so commitment is commitment
Good luck to you hoops, you deserve a break. Maybe we'll trail Forest & Swansea and see you at Wembley...then we can argue about attendances....
You have some very good blogs by the way, better than any sites we've got....
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