Things we sort of learned - Leeds United (a)

It started out as an unlikely quest to spoil Leeds’ party, but this game ended up being much, much more. Zoë Whitford toddled up the road to her local ground and had a surprisingly excellent time.

When Steven Naismith thwacked the ball into the net from distance to put us 1-0 up, it was quite wondrous. Well, it was for me anyway, but not for a man stood a short distance away. He declared loudly and with language unsuitable for kissing one’s mother that he was refusing to celebrate as Naismith had been awful all year, and one good goal does not a season make.

First of all, imagine paying £37 to be rammed into a tiny space and with a restricted view of the pitch AND STILL refusing to be happy when your team took the lead? I have a suggestion for those people: FIND A HOBBY THAT MAKES YOU HAPPY.

Secondly, I take massive umbrage with the idea that Naismith has had a terrible season. When he is playing well, he is one of our most valuable players. His voice is heard constantly. He is wily, and canny, and talented. Perhaps unlucky to get injured during his best spell of form, he hasn’t been a constant force over the course of the year, but then who has?

There is the possibility as Stuart Webber prepares to wield his axe that after his debatable red card, we’ve seen the last of Naisy in a yellow shirt. That would be a shame. I believe that if we are to evolve a younger squad, his experience and nous would be invaluable in teaching the bairns a thing or two.

£37, you’re having a laugh?
It’s election time (again), which brings with it the time-worn phrase ‘if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain. That’s the unfortunate situation Norwich City have got themselves in regarding ticket prices.

Having to spend £37 to be rammed into a tiny space with a restricted view of the pitch is enough to put anyone off travelling to away games, especially when they have very little riding on them. It’s too much to pay for a match in the second tier of English football, too, and it’s no secret that Leeds have been charging their own fans an obscene amount for tickets - it’s not limited to visiting supporters.

However, we have absolutely no right to complain when we’re charging away fans a similar amount to come to Carrow Road. Indeed, as long as we continue charging so much, we deserve everything that’s coming to us. Change won’t be forthcoming until everyone’s willing to get on board with it.

It’s always exciting, walking to a different ground, and taking in the nuances that differ from your own usual experiences. It’s not a great walk, though, from Leeds city centre to Elland Road, and it certainly doesn’t do the city itself much justice.

However, one of the most striking things about the thronging erstwhile champions of Europe was how few women were among the masses. It can be taken for granted, the percentage of ladies who watch Norwich, and it was only when we turned the corner to the away fans’ section that the crowd became a lot more balanced.

Proper Football
It’s been a rum old season hasn’t it? Away disappointment, somewhat inevitable yet uninspiring home victories, sackings, unrest. A few months off have been a long time coming, especially since the defeat to Villa.

Since then, there’s been the win against Reading, which may have been a startling, heartening romp but it was never a contest, instead a nutty procession.

But, but. This utterly bonkers 90 minutes with 6 goals, a fight, a red card, some terrible defending, some beautiful attacking, it was the best of the Championship, it was the best of football. It beats losing 1-0 at home to Stoke and West Brom all day long. It was dreadfully magnificent, or magnificently dreadful. Either fits. It was played at a million miles an hour. It showed the scars this relentless league can leave - one team overwhelmed by the pressure to win, the other too used to conceding simple, early goals. If they’d have played all night, both teams would have found a way not to win.

And there it was, the feeling I’ve found lacking throughout this most underwhelming of seasons - proper, heart-pounding, buttock-clenching excitement. There was nothing riding on the game for Norwich and yet I was more nervous during the 6 minutes of injury time than I have been at any point all year.

It was nuts, it showed Norwich at their best and their worst (has anyone considered that instead of worrying about playing Pritch and Wes in the same team we might have just tried to avoid playing Martin and Bennett in the same team?), but most of all it was great fun. A timely reminder, as we head into a break with mostly disappointment on which to reflect, just how brilliant football can be.