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A day out at Norwich

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Dan Walker | 12:55 UK time, Thursday, 20 October 2011

The last time I went to watch Norwich City, Darren Huckerby was marauding down the wing for the Canaries. Last weekend, he was sitting in the stands as his former club prepared to take on Swansea in the Premier League. It's all going very nicely on the pitch for Paul Lambert's side at the moment, while the Norfolk welcome is as warm as ever.

The day before Saturday's game at Carrow Road, which is where Football Focus came from last weekend, I got the opportunity to promote the programme on BBC Look East and BBC Radio Norfolk's Football Show.

A very friendly taxi driver, who also a big Norwich fan, delivered me to my destinations. He had an in-depth knowledge of the team's tactics and recent results but couldn't remember the names of any players.

"I thought the keeper would be a liability but he's been solid," he said. "You know... what's his name? The big fella."

"Ruddy," I replied. "That's your man... the big fella," he said.

We went through the whole squad in a similar fashion.

"That dude in midfield - the boy we got from Leeds... he's been a bit tasty."

"Bradley Johnson?"

"Spot on."

 

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The only one that rolled off the tongue without any encouragement was Grant Holt. "I love that kid," he said. "What a player. You can keep Torres and that kid at Manchester City [I think he meant Aguero]... every team needs a Holty."

After my local radio and television appearances, Friday night was spent slaying some pasta with Mark Lawrenson and putting the final touches to the show while occasionally glancing at the Carrow Road pitch, which was visible from the hotel we were staying in.

The weather on Saturday was truly immense. The locals were telling us it never rains in Norwich but even they were surprised by burning sunshine in the middle of October. Lawro even had to dispense with his winter coat!

I thought Focus guest Iwan Roberts was excellent, even though he was thoroughly gutted by the Welsh defeat at the Rugby World Cup that morning and the sending-off of Sam Warburton. It was also a real pleasure to meet another former Norwich player, Jeremy Goss. I was part of the generation that stood in awe at the quality of his volleys.

The one thing that really struck me was the affection the Norwich fans had for both of them. You can still see that both Roberts and Goss have a deep relationship with the club, too. If you don't believe me, watch this week's Focus Forum.

FOCUS FORUM

I found Goss quite an inspirational character if truth be told. He was kind, genuine and gracious, spending a vast amount of time raising money for charity. He's recently returned from a bike ride around Europe, retracing the steps of Norwich's run in the Uefa Cup in the mid-1990s. His next project is preparing to run the Norwich half-marathon wearing a blindfold.

I mentioned on Twitter on Saturday that I was considering starting a campaign to make Goss the new 'King of the United Kingdom' and got a startling amount of support.
I stayed to watch Norwich's 3-1 win over Swansea with one of the football chiefs at the BBC. Over our half-time brew, he brought up the fact that he had visited more than 50 of the current 92 grounds in the Premier League and Football League.

I called up the football tables on my phone and started ticking off the clubs I had been to. From 1999 to 2003, I was a full-time commentator travelling to far-flung corners of the country, while I used to cover matches for Final Score every week from about 2003 and 2008.

After a couple of minutes, I'd got up to 88 out of the 92, a figure that both surprised and disappointed me because I thought I was going to get the full set until I got to Peterborough.

The only four clubs that have currently escaped me are Peterborough, Exeter, Shrewsbury and Hartlepool. I was due to go to Victoria Park a few seasons ago but got diverted to Sunderland at the last minute. I don't know if anyone out there has done the full 92, or maybe you are in single figures, but it would be good to make this week's blog comments a tribute to your trips across the land.

In terms of this week's show, we'll be covering the only four teams from the 92 that are still unbeaten. Manchester United and Manchester City face each other at Old Trafford on Sunday, so we'll get the low down on that game from Vincent Kompany and Javier Hernandez. Steven Taylor will talk about Newcastle United's surprising start to the season in the top flight, while Focus reporter Mark Clemmit visited Huddersfield Town, who are second in League One.

There will be plenty more to keep you entertained so make sure you join us at 1215 BST on BBC One and online this Saturday. In the meantime, get your comments and questions down below and don't forget you can follow all the build up to the show on twitter at www.twitter.com/danwalkerbbc

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Following Saints fall and rise through the divisions over the last few years, have seen me get to 59 of the 92 so far. Was considering aiming for just 91 but finally succumed to the evil franchise last season. I've been to 3 of the 4 you haven't, so combined we're not doing too badly! Just need a Shrewsbury fan to complete the set!!!

  • Comment number 2.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 3.

    Norwich have gone about their business in a quiet but well thought out manner. Their re introduction to the top flight has been good for football.

    The money men though are circling. With calls to banish relegation and individual TV rights package deals, things may change for the smaller teams in the future.

    There are some views to the contrary though. www.arlombardi.com

  • Comment number 4.

    Dan..well done on a blog talking about Norwich without mentioning Delia (darn) ;)

    Regarding your taxi driver not knowing the names of the Canaries players it never did Jack Charlton or the great Brian Clough any harm I guess? I reckon Mr.Capello forgets who half his players are most the time and that's why so many caps are handed out nowadays. A lot of Prem players don't even use there given names eg. Charles Joseph John "Joe" Hart. Motty should try commentating with their 'birth' names - you'd be suprised.

    Wonder how many of the clubs you've visited over the years still play in the same stadium..football has changed so much - are we talking the current '2011' 92?

    I saw a great stat for your guests on footie focus on Sat 'Only 1 team in the 1966 World Cup did not play in Umbro kits - Can you guess who were the odd ones out?' I'll leave it for you to supply the answer.

    Stevie G, Cashley, Lamps, Carra, The Kid (Theo), Jar Jar Binks, SWP

  • Comment number 5.

    Ummm,its only October. Where were Blackpool this time last year? Or Burnley the year before that? Ive seen Norwich in the flesh only once and they lost (to West Brom). I would suggest they will be in the bottom 3 come May Im afraid because they rely heavily on few players and lack strength in depth. They (and Swansea) play good football but thats rarely enough.

  • Comment number 6.

    I liked the way Iwan Roberts whistles as he talks, maybe he must have a new set of teeth in.

    Goss is a legend, they really do not make gentlemanly footballers like him any more. Never blessed with brilliant ability, but if a ball was boucing in at knee height, Goss is man you'd want connecting with it. I remember a good goal he got at anfield too.

    Perhaps we should look at average players who do above average things. Goss volleys would feature heavily, An Ian Woan firecracker, and Chris Marsden's Maradona goal vs Ipswich.

    Sgt. Angel Batista

  • Comment number 7.

    I hear Jeremy Goss is now on his way to Greece to sort out the financial crisis. He likes to keep busy.

    I'm a Scot who has attended games at 8/92 English league grounds.

    Kenny Crawford

  • Comment number 8.

    9 is my count.

    Etihad Stadium (Manchester City)
    Old Trafford (Manchester United)
    Goodison Park (Everton)
    Fratton Park (Portsmouth)
    Ashton Gate (Bristol City)
    Hillsborough (Sheffield Wednesday)
    St James Park (Exeter City)
    The County Ground (Swindon Town)
    Memorial Stadium (Bristol Rovers)

    but that's not including Ninian Park, cause Cardiff have since moved. Been to quite a few Scottish grounds though, Celtic Park, Doubletree Dunbane Stadium (Striling Albion), Stark's Park (Raith Rovers) and been outside a few grounds, like Anfield, Brammal Lane, Madjeski Stadium and Liberty Stadium. Would love to visit more.

  • Comment number 9.

    Interesting interviews Dan. As a neutral I thought the whole thing would be rather boring, but I was quite wrong. Nice, bread and butter, run of the mill kind of interview.

    How tall is Iwan Roberts? Its hard to tell on the footage.
    Also want to share my grief at Cardiff's result on Tuesday but my relief at the Gunners score line on Wednesday.
    I have been to two of the 92 league grounds. CCFC and AFC no surprise there.

  • Comment number 10.

    clearly #5 'oldwoodman' above is going to get a shock when he/she realises that norwich are here and ready to stay in the top flight. i don't know who you support but basing an entire season's prediction on one game of football you watched on tv would produce bizarre placings - norwich have overall been absolutely outstanding. your naivity when it comes to knowing who our players are and that we lack depth merely shows a lack of knowledge - we really do have some fabulously talented players - all british or irish too with an average age of just 24 - and our performances have been a delight. the club as a whole has a real buzz about it again - indeed it has ever since paul lambert walked through the door two and a bit years ago! for the record, i've been to 68 of the current 92 clubs... i've got to revisit some of them who have new stadia!

  • Comment number 11.

    ok, just noticed you went to the game rather than watch it on tv. in that case, you'll realise what an awful match it was. neither team turned up. you get games like that sometimes. you can't play great every game!

  • Comment number 12.

    visited all 92 football grounds for a recent charity event walking around the pitches at them all. didnt see a game at them all but been to them nonetheless

  • Comment number 13.

    SaintsStato....isn't it about time you moved on from 'the evil franchise' statement. The MK Dons are here to stay so get use to it move on and grow up!

  • Comment number 14.

    Not been to so many grounds, but a good mix...Rushden and Diamonds place, Carrow Road, Portman Road, Stade de le Beaujoire (Nantes, France-for the world cup in 98), outside the stadium in Yokohama in 2002 while the final was being played mixing it with the brasillians and germans, and the Viking Stadion in Stavanger, Norway. That makes it 7ish by my count.

    Hidetoshi Nakata

  • Comment number 15.

    Paul Lambert is a terrific young Scottish manager, even if he does try too hard to be a mini-Martin O'Neill!

    I support Ayr United in the Scottish First Division and have currently been to 23 out of 41 Scottish League grounds, respectable considering I'm not 20 till December! Ambition to go to all of them by the time I'm 30...and I still manage to have a girlfriend! haha

  • Comment number 16.

    I'm a keen Norwich City fan of 29yrs, being a season ticket holder since 1988. I completed my 92 grounds in 2008 when I visited Morecambe's previous ground Christie Park. I top up the grounds each season. I have had to do Crawley, AFC Wimbledon and Brighton this season. I went to watch Crawley in Sept v Bristol Rovers. I'm hoping that AFC Wimbledon get a home tie in the FA Cup as its international weekend and City have no games. I have done 125 football league grounds this means old grounds and ex football league grounds. Very impressed by Footy Focus on Saturday. I'm confident we will stay up as we have young hungry players who will fight til the end. ON THE BALL CITY

  • Comment number 17.

    I've been to:
    White Hart Lane
    Selhurst Park
    The Riverside
    St James Park (Exeter)
    St James Park (Newcastle)
    Bramall Lane
    Hillsborough
    Vicarage Road (though that was to see Saracens, not Watford)

    I think that's it for England, though I've also been to Tynecastle to see Hearts.

  • Comment number 18.

    But why do you only get two? You get four of the others so why only two of these.

    They need help.

    They need your help.

    Yes, I'm talking to you, dan walker, you have the power to change this, balance up the numbers.

    Dan with your powers you can fight for the lemon jam tart.

    Wait, no, the lemon CURD tart.

    Jams aren't all that, they aren't even marmalade.

    This could be your martine mccutcheon dan. This is your moment.



    Jimmy

  • Comment number 19.

    According to Lee Dixon's Wikipedia page, he played at 91 of the 92 league grounds. Although I'm sure some of them have changed since he retired. The one he missed?

    Craven Cottage, apparently.

  • Comment number 20.

    Just working out my league grounds...
    Anfield
    St James Park, Exeter
    Plainmoor, Torquay (they were only in the conference at the time though)
    Home Park, Argyle
    Vicarage Road
    Elland Road

    Not bad for somebody who doesnt follow football,
    I've been to all the Rugby Premiership Grounds now, completed my set watching Exeter Ospreys on Saturday just gone at Sandy Park

  • Comment number 21.

    In the beginning Chuck Norris created Ipswich and Norwich.
    Now Norwich was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of Carrow Road, and the Spirit of Chuck Norris was hovering over the Wensum.
    And Chuck Norris said, “Let there be Jeremy Goss,” and there was Jeremy Goss.
    God saw that Jeremy Goss was good, and he separated Norwich from Ipswich.

    True story

    Chuck Norris

  • Comment number 22.

    I am off to Bournemouth this weekend with my wife for a romantic break...and so I can tick another ground off my list. Passed the half century in September at Tranmere. It's a great way to see the country as it takes you to places you wouldn't normally dream of going, although it's not so great when you end up in Middlesborough *shudder*

  • Comment number 23.

    Out of the current League Grounds i have 50 out of the 92 with about 6 to do this season without cup games as well as a few non league grounds and International ones following England

  • Comment number 24.

    I've sat in all four wondrous, hand crafted stands at Anfield (although it was the old Anfield Road end for Alan Hansen's testimonial),
    The Old Wembley
    Millenium Stadium - best ground I've been to by a country mile
    Ewood Park
    Turf Moor
    Old Trafford
    Goodison Park


    #4 With regards to managers forgetting names, here is the best football story I've ever heard - I hope it's true.
    Lomana Lua Lua was with the England Under 21's, when the manager asked him if he had a nickname as it would be easier than using his full name all the time.
    "Don't have one" came the reply.
    "You must do"
    "No".
    "What does Bobby Robson call you up at Newcastle then?"
    "Carl Cort".

    Ian Brown

  • Comment number 25.

    hey just letting you know after watching sheff united from 78 to 95 i got to many grounds.
    Too young in the 70s n 80s but watched them in the premier and division two at every ground.
    Got bored with the premier and as i was lomg distance truck driver usee to fgo n watch two ganmes a week.
    I did all 92 up until places like roker ayresome baseball burnden goldstone the dell dissaperaed.
    Did all them and then went onto the ryman l;eague as i was driving down south a lot.
    I maqnaged to do 40 rymans 25 unibonds and 30 whatever the southern league was called then.
    Being a truckie was great the gateman even got to know me art woking dagenham and gravesend.
    Watching the non league was great it made a grteat change to the upper leagues with the biggest crowd n game i went to being dagenham and boston in boston's promotion year.;
    I managed 30 scottish grounds too in my travels.
    Being a bit anal and needing proof i got a mug or badge from every ground i went tyo.
    I'M coming to england in the new year and need to go to fleetwood miltoin keynes and all the treams with new grounds since 2000 so maybe i could join the 100 league club ey.
    It was expensive but great fun doing it .as watching one tream became a drag after 20 years..
    I loved plough lane and elm park reading they were reall footy grounds not loike the plastric stadia now.

  • Comment number 26.

    Saint Marys (Southampton)
    Adams Park (Wycombe Wanderers)
    City Ground (Oxford Utd - used to be in the FL)
    Emirates - By far the best fans, team and facilities :-)
    Dean Court? (AFC Bournemouth, worst ground, worse supporters)
    MK Dons (Good game, crap stadium, worst so called "fans")
    Wembley old and new (Not FL i know!)
    The Hawthorns WBA (FL when i watched them years ago)

    Pretty poor show actually but then i only watch live football a couple of times per year.

    Must try harder

    Effen Ekoku

  • Comment number 27.

    Sorry Oldwoodman but you clearly have no idea what you're talking about- you've just rolled off a couple of cliches for the sake of it!

    Yes were were poor against West Brom, yes we may well finish in the bottom three...

    But it won't be because of lack in strength of depth... That's the one area we DON'T have any problems! We have plenty of cover and could pretty much put two first teams out...

    The issue is whether those teams, made up almost exclusively of Championship/ League 1 talent are good enough to win games- and whether we lack the cutting edge a few big name signings with premiership experience would give us...

    Lambert has chosen to spend his money building a squad, rather than on a few big name signings, as he's obviously seen that strategy fail for newly promoted teams in the past...

    Whether it will work or not we are yet to see- but I do wonder why you've even bothered to comment on this article when you clearly haven't got the faintest idea what you're going on about!

  • Comment number 28.

    tommy2010

    Theres one thing disagreeing with someone and another saying they dont know what they are talking about.

    I think what Oldwoodman was trying to say was that given the past history of the premiership, some of the new boys come in start well pick up points with enthusiasm, ability and a bit of luck then come january they tend to struggle to keep up, whether that be because of strength in depth (something that you have adressed previously) or lack of quality etc.

    I wish Norwich the best of luck for the rest of the season, Im a fan of Your manager....whats his name....the big fella :)

    Hope to see you guys still doing well in 6 months.

    Signori

  • Comment number 29.

    Oh and i have been to only 7 of the grounds in the UK but i have been to 13 different Italian club stadiums. sorry if thats slightly off topic.

  • Comment number 30.

    71 football league grounds for me, but that will have risen by at least 6 (depending on cup runs) by the end of this season.

    Delighted to see Norwich doing well, but depressing at the same time as not even 2 years ago we (Huddersfield Town) were only a few points behind them in League One, and now we're still there while they've already played at Old Trafford this season! They also have Anthony Pilkington from us who I'm tipping to make the Eire squad for Euro 2012.

    One last thing, we're not just unbeaten this season, we're unbeaten in 38 league matches, an all-time football league record, and only 12 behind the record set by Arsenals invincibles!

  • Comment number 31.

    I suspect that Lambert will quickly walk away if Norwich end up struggling this season. If they do well, they might get another season out of their manager. Looking at his CV he's not exactly one for committment and devotion to a club.

  • Comment number 32.

    Hi Dan. I went to school with a lad who's older brother was fixated with the thought of being able to claim he had visited all 92 league grounds. He did it too (I think while he ws still in his 20's). His name was Tony Incenzo and I think he went on to work for capital gold in 1990's when Jonathon Pearce was the main commentator. Good Blog keep up the good work rgds johnnyhtospur

  • Comment number 33.

    So far have only been to 14 Football League grounds:-
    Chelsea, Fulham, QPR, Sunderland, Tottenham, Palace, Reading (both Elm Park and the Mad Stad), Brentford, Charlton, Colchester, Wycombe (both Loakes and Adams Park), Kingstonian (now a football League ground AFC We're Not From Here), Oxford, Darlingtons old ground when they were in the league.
    Also been to both the old and new Wembley, Hearts and Dundee (though only the club shop!).
    In Europe have been to Sparta Prague for the derby v Slavia, the T'Qali in Malta for an international v N Ireland, the Camp Nou and Amsterdam ArenA for stadium tours, and APOEL Nicosia, Anderlecht and Ferencvaros (although again, only to go to the Club Shops, not to see a game).
    Have also wathed a match at the Antigua Recreation Ground, and been to far too many non - league grounds to remember, let alone mention!!

  • Comment number 34.

    Dan. You would probably enjoy www.doingthe92.com You can keep a record of each game you've attended and add detail as you wish. You will also see many other dedicated followers of the game who have either completed the set or are actively trying to....

  • Comment number 35.

    I'm a Spurs fan aiming to get to all 92 grounds, done around 40 so far, only go to Spurs away games though so it's hard to increase the numbers - only getting 2 or 3 new stadiums each year depending on who gets promoted and who we draw in the cup! Might have to start doing Colchester away games too, which is my closest league team! Also been scuppered by the new build stadiums, eg went to Highfield Road and Filbert Street, but not Ricoh or Walkers...

  • Comment number 36.

    So many different stadia visited!!!!

    But... Lads n Lasses.... don't forget.. next time you are on holiday or working in Europe.. go and see some football over there too!

    I've been to a half dozen grounds in Sweden, one in Denmark and a few elsewhere (outside the UK).

    It's a really good experience to visit grounds in other countries.

    But I've yet to find anywhere outside of the UK where you can buy a balti pie!

 

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