Pete Sixsmith: Real Betis, real close to home, real football

Pete Sixsmith: a long way from home

  • And so it came to pass that the 11 hours spent on a coach was worthwhile after all.
  • And that the 2,500 disciples shoehorned into the corner of Carrow Road were loud in their praise of The Great God Sam and his angels and archangels on the field.
  • And there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the followers of the home team, who vented their fury by renting their garments and hurling their clappers and plastic canaries onto the Holy Ground of the aforementioned Carrow Road.
  • And there was much gaiety and joyfulness on the long and (not very) winding road back to the Land of Milk and Honey that is known as County Durham.


NORWICH (a).

It was a very good result and a performance that showed that when the going gets tough, Sunderland AFC get going. Here was a game against the one team who could outstrip them and who could play a major part in consigning them to the nether regions and ruin Sam Allardyce’s record as a manager who has never been relegated from the Premier League.

As it was, a solid team selection, two excellent substitutions and a considerable amount of commitment and no little skill saw us home and put Norwich into serious trouble.

The trip down saw darkness, sunshine, snow in Lincolnshire, rain, sleet and a stop at a wonderfully kitsch farm café west of Kings Lynn. Norwich was hit at 10.30, papers were purchased and pints were taken in the excellent Coach and Horses, home of the equally excellent Chalk Hill Brewery. No Stewards and Pattersons here, although a pint of wonderful Watney’s Red Barrel would have gone down well. (Cut the sarcasm – Ed).

A pleasant walk to the ground along the banks of the Wensum, past Bella Pasta, Wetherspoons, Nandos and all the other accoutrements of modern life that make it so wonderful, and we were tucked up in a corner of Norfolk that will forever be County Durham as the rain began to pour on the assembled multitude.

Lens hasn't lived up to his price tag - yet!

Lens hasn’t lived up to his price tag – yet!

Same team as last week but neither Rodwell nor Lens made it on to the bench. Both have limited futures at Sunderland and I suspect that neither will be with us next season. Lens will get fixed up somewhere but Rodwell must be worried about where he ends up. Aston Villa perhaps?

 

As most of the readership probably saw on the box, the opening was frantic – but Norwich doesn’t really do frantic. Off the pitch, they are just too nice and on the pitch, although the stadium is tight and quite oppressive, they never seem like a team that will bully you.

The push by Brady on Yedlin started a contretemps on the far touchline, with even Paul Bracewell getting out of his seat (although that may have been to avoid being sat on by Sam) and it was followed by some general pushing and shoving all over the pitch.

Norwich had the better of the opening twenty minutes and Mannone made a couple of smart saves, but City had clearly decided to eschew skill with physical power, as both Redmond and Hoolahan were named as substitutes. Jarvis and Brady did nothing; an error by Alex Neil perhaps?

Don Vito Mannone: once again a hero,

Don Vito Mannone: once again a hero,

Not as great an error as the one perpetrated by Andre Wisdom in the 41st minute though. We had already missed one good chance with Defoe inches away from an excellent low cross from Borini, when Defoe reciprocated and Borini took the ball in the box. Wisdom clattered into him and Andre Marriner (about as popular with this writer as Mike and Bernie Winters) pointed to the spot.

It happened at the other end to where we were located, but Marriner seemed certain and there was not a great deal of complaining from those with the clappers sat in the River End. Up stepped Borini to put a cracking shot past Ruddy and just inside the post. Subsequent texts confirmed that Marriner was correct and that had Wisdom’s foot been a fraction higher, he would have been in the dressing room and Fabio would have been in the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (with thanks to Merv, in Comments below, for the corrected title – Ed), with a broken tib and fib.

A goal ahead at half time was what we would have hoped for but our current record of holding onto a lead is not great. So, an anxious 45 minutes beckoned as fingernails were gnawed and worry beads were counted.

Norwich made two huge tactical changes in the second half. Off went the ineffectual Jarvis to be replaced by Redmond and Mbokani decided that he would try to level out the penalty count by falling down in the box every time Kaboul came within three feet of him.

Fortunately Mr Marriner was not to be suckered in by this blatant cheating and he was equally able to identify a good tackle as Kirchhoff took the ball off Bassong, threaded it down the wing to Borini who laid on a superb low cross for the admirable Defoe (another man who does not want a relegation on his record) to turn in at the far post.

Norwich pushed forward and left gaps. Watmore, on for a tired looking and ineffectual Khazri, galloped through twice and delayed his pass causing the increasingly anxious/delighted Red and Whites to praise and curse in equal proportions.

A welcome return

A welcome return

When it got to 80 minutes, a feeling of calm and tranquillity fell over me, similar to those that the late Mr Howard Marks felt on numerous occasions, as I realised that Norwich were shot. The arrival of Seb Larsson had tightened us up and the third goal from Duncan Watmore was the icing on the cake and saw a mass exodus and terracing full of redundant clappers. Hooray for that.

outstanding

outstanding

It was a very important win and there were some excellent performances from Mannone, Kaboul, Kone, Kirchhoff and Borini but the outstanding players were Cattermole and Defoe.

The former remains a player who I can praise one week and criticise the next but he was simply magnificent here. His leadership was exemplary and the two clearances he made off the line and his reaction to them showed that he could be a huge factor in our staying up. He looks much more effective playing further forward and it allows Kirchhoff to pick up the ball in the midfield areas where Cattermole usually gives away free kicks and gets booked.

Defoe was brilliant. His positioning and running were far too good for Bassong and Bennett and, if a donkey like Andy Carroll and a colt like Marcus Rashford can be touted for the Euro squad, what price a real thoroughbred like Jermain Defoe?

And now here is something you would not expect to see in a Sixer’s Soapbox column – praise for Andre Marriner who refereed the game very well. He is by no means my favourite whistler but he understood the importance of the game and refused to be “intimidated” by the almost hysterical Norwich crowd who seemed to think that every tackle was a foul and that every foul should be followed by either a yellow card, a red card or a ritual disemboweling in the grounds of the Cathedral. Well done Andre and keep it up, as I used to write on countless reports.

Pete Sixsmith

Pete Sixsmith

The journey home was a long one, not helped by the fact that visiting coaches have to park fifteen minutes’ walk away from the ground and then are expected to join the free for all that is the Norwich traffic system. An hour and a quarter after the game, we were sat outside the main stand admiring the team coach as the Newcastle-Swansea game reached half time. No escort from the Norfolk police (too busy chasing turnip rustlers I expect) so if we play City next season, I suggest parking their coaches at Ryhope and then directing them through Seaham, Easington and Horden before putting them on the A19.

The A47 and the A17 were interminable although the large village churches on this route make me think of an England before the Industrial Revolution when nobody ever left their home village and had never dreamt of the wonders of Costa Coffee and Frankie and Benny’s. After 11 hours on a coach, my aching knees and legs were suggesting that I might have been better off staying at home and watching it on the box.

But aching knees and a throbbing leg are but little discomfort after a wonderful 3-0 win. Keep the Faith and Ha’way The Lads.

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10 Responses to “Sixer’s Norwich Soapbox: Catt’s Cats calm Canaries’ clappers” Subscribe

  1. Tom Lynn April 17, 2016 at 4:11 pm #

    Song of the day: ‘You can stuff your *******
    clackers up your arse”.
    Crude but so right for the moment after Defoe
    put us 2-0 up!
    Say no to clackers. Say no to plastic canaries
    and any other such creations. Say no to Mexican
    waves. Say no to half and half scarves. Say
    no to music being played after a goal.
    Say no to the hideous, plastic Americanisation
    of English football.
    Say yes to passion and SAFC’s magnificent support
    which was as superb as ever with another sell
    out away following at Norwich.

    • david miller April 18, 2016 at 8:22 pm #

      Hello Tom, I assume you’re for brexit too?!

      Great to see your name crop up here.

      All the best.

  2. Mike Sixsmith April 17, 2016 at 4:21 pm #

    Tom, you have just said it all.

  3. malcolm April 17, 2016 at 4:29 pm #

    The talk on the telly was that Rodwell was ill and Lens was injured. The talk on the radio was that Wes Brown was with the players showing his support for the cause.

    The former may have been true otherwise why was Toivonen on the bench? The latter certainly was true and I hope the club can offer some sort of position to Brown (and Steve Harper) if they are looking to to do their coaching badges.

    Both Watmore and Larsson looked more up for the fight than Khazri. Let’s hope his dip in form is just temporary and not a reaction to our league position. We need battlers and we know that’s what Seb is. Maybe Sam is beginning to recognise that too.

    Assuming Allardyce is still in charge next season I can see a change in recruitment policy where we sign more players who will give 100% and play with passion and fewer who come on high salaries and the recommendations of third parties. It will also sound the final death knell for the Director of Football model which has served ourselves, The Mags and Aston Villa so well this campaign.

    Finally, Can I suggest the F.A. impose points deductions on all teams who have to gee up their fans with cardboard clackers, plastic inflatables and drummers and consign them to the CBBC Family Friendly Football Combination.

  4. Rob T April 17, 2016 at 5:32 pm #

    That was one of the best away games I’ve been too, the whole away end was bouncing. Nice for the fans to finally see a bit of passion and commitment from the players and of course a bloody win! Its a cliche and all clubs say it but I genuinely believe we have the best fans in the country. Which other fans would put up with the dross we have these last few years and still sell out away trips week after week?

  5. Phil D April 17, 2016 at 5:59 pm #

    Superb article, and I agree very much with Tom’s sentiments too.

    It was a 6.45 am kick off here in Mexico but it was well worth getting up. I couldn’t go mental when we scored as Mrs. D was still in bed.

    (My older brother lives in Seattle and he was up at about 4 am for a 4.45 am start. About the same time as Sixer?)

    I get up for all of our matches, as every PL match is shown live on telly. The problem is evening kick offs, when I am still at work.

  6. Merv April 17, 2016 at 8:23 pm #

    Good to see writing with a bit of humour clearly written by someone with a bit of personality, unlike so many dreary blogs. One small point of order, the hospital is the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. That apart well done from a Norwich fan.

    • Pete Sixsmith April 17, 2016 at 9:16 pm #

      Thanks Merv. Kind and generous words. I just wish you Norwichfans weren’t so bloody nice.

  7. Drummer April 18, 2016 at 10:36 am #

    Ok , I think some one should call the police . Who was that imposter refereeing the game and what has he done with the real Andre Marriner ?

  8. Pete Horan April 18, 2016 at 11:10 am #

    As Pete knows only too well, I do not travel too well on a bus. The eleven hours on the Durham branch supporters bus I view as a good old fashioned catholic penance. I prayed on the way down and rejoiced on the way back. Dominus vobiscum.
    Thank you Pete for being my mate.Thank you Stan for running the bus. And thank you Sam for giving us, at last, a team of battlers. We need to ( the fans) make the biggest din ever at the SOL on Sunday, using just good old fashioned passion.

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