Here at last then is the complete version of Pete Sixsmith‘s account of his visit to Norwich for the Carling Cup game on Monday, a night when several players did their to show Steve Bruce they deserved tio break into the Premier League squad …
Noel Coward once described Norfolk as “very flat”. After our bruising battle with Blackburn, I feared that our performance might echo the words of the Master. Last season, they probably would have done. This season, there was nothing to worry about.
It was a pleasure to re-acquaint myself with the fair city of Norwich. A pleasant drive down (despite the sheer bloody awfulness of the A 17), the B and B found with the minimum of fuss and a pleasant afternoon spent in Norfolk’s only city.
It seemed a city at peace with itself. There have been changes since my last visit in the 80s. Norwich Union has become Aviva, Mackintoshes have shut their chocolate factory and the football club have slid into the third level of English football with barely a whimper. Life is slower here. The accent is gentle and easy going and although the ghosts of the Singing Postman and Sale of The Century reinforce the Partridgeisation of the place, it has a hell of a lot going for it.
Carrow Road is as good a place to watch a football match as you will find. The new stand, which, according to the landlord of the excellent Red Lion, has crippled the club, is impressive and fits the ground well. The pitch is good, the support is loyal and the view of Norwich’s skyline from Row HH is brilliant.
The Brucester made nine changes, retaining only McCartney (so much for my prediction after Saturday) and Kenwyne, who clearly fancied forging ahead of Bent in the goal stakes. Da Sousa made his debut , Tainio came in from the cold (easy for a Finn) and Carlos started at right back.
Norwich passed the ball well, ran around well – and tackled as if they were made of paper. They did not commit a foul until the 50th. minute. I don’t see Cana settling into their midfield! Three good goals in 10 minutes, including an excellent chip from Slimline Andy Reid, finished the game by 8.20. Norwich came out well second half, scored a goal and then gave away a comical own goal, before folding again at the end after Mickey Spillane was sent off. Substitutes Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett tried to get on, but no dice.
What do we learn from this comfortable win? Well, Craig Gordon is a better keeper than Marton Fulop. He made some good saves and looked in control of his box. He’ll be in at Stoke.
Paulo de Sousa reads a game well but is relatively small and needs time to bed in. He won’t be playing against the Potters this weekend.
Carlos is not a full back but he can destroy lower league teams with his pace. I wish he could do it in the top league; it’s a long time since I liked a player as much as I like him.
Frazier Campbell is good. His volley that hit the bar was stunning and he would have scored if Mike Hammer – sorry, Spillane, had not pushed him into Ben Alnwick, thereby spoiling the wannabe porn stars good looks.
So, an encouraging win and a break now before we head for the roughest, toughest team west of the Pecos in Stoke City. There may be another centre half in by then and he will need a tin hat and a bayonet to repulse the Barbarians at the gate.
Incidentally, I am writing this in Cromer. If you haven’t been there, make plans immediately to spend some time in what is a perfect example of the English seaside town. Stephen Fry worked here as a waiter and they still have summer variety show in the Theatre on the end of their splendid Pier. You don’t get that in Hanley, Burslem, Fenton, Longton and Stoke!