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29 October 2014

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Delia Smith
Delia Smith supporting Norwich City

Delia Smith interview

Norwich City's joint major shareholder Delia Smith has given an exclusive interview to BBC Radio Norfolk to talk about her outburst at the Manchester City game.

Delia Smith's outburst on the pitch at half-time during Norwich City's match with Manchester City has provoked outrage and admiration in equal measures. She's been splashed across the front pages of national papers and has made it on to the country's news bulletins.

The TV cook and club's joint majority shareholder took to the pitch, with a microphone in hand and Sky TV cameras in tow, to tell fans the side "need their twelfth man." "Where are you?" she cried.

In the end it had little effect and Norwich lost the game in the dying seconds. But was Delia right to question the level of support?

Delia gave an exclusive interview to BBC Radio Norfolk about her outburst on Monday when she spoke to Drive Live presenter Chris Goreham.

Have you seen the TV pictures and the fall-out that's followed from this? Are you embarrassed by what happened?

No, I'm not embarrassed. I'm concerned if people thought if I was in any way being critical – I wasn't being critical. All I was trying to do was express my concern that everybody was quiet.

I think what lead up to that was the fact that when we played Middlesbrough and we were 3-1 down, the crowd suddenly really got behind the team and it was a really big loud crescendo - and three more goals went in.

So really I was desperate. I do feel that I am a supporter and that I am one of the supporters. I didn't feel that people would find anything wrong with it - it was a plea really.

It's certainly suggested in a lot of this morning's papers that alcohol may have played its part in what happened.

I love it, I just absolutely love it! All my working career they called me a saint. Suddenly now I can only speak under the influence of alcohol - absolute nonsense.

All the people who were having dinner with me will tell you. We had some wine with the meal, I never drink wine during the match. At half-time, because I'm always shouting so much, I'm very thirsty and I always have two glasses of fizzy water lined up ready for me.

My feeling I suppose, is that forgetting that Sky were there. You're not really aware of their presence. I just forgot. I was just really, really caught up in what was happening with the football.

We got two goals and we were two up. Suddenly we were equal, I just felt that if the crowd could really get behind the players - because I've been told that it does make a difference. The players can sense nervousness and when there is big crescendo of support it really does help them. It was just a plea from one supporter to another.

You did have a TV camera right in your face in front of you.

I did realise, but only in the last minute. When I went in at half-time, I called the operations manager and I said, "Could we get something on the scoreboard? Could we just get a message to the supporters?"

They said "No, it's not technically possible." So I said "What about the loud speaker system - can't I just address them on the loud speaker system?" and they said "No." They suggested that I went out on the pitch – they said that was the best way.

Now maybe, because of all the problems, it wasn't the right thing to do. But quite honestly I can't help being a passionate football supporter. If that's my sin, I'm guilty.

A lot of people have said what a great thing for you to do it shows just how passionate you are, but on the other hand we had a lot of texts and phone calls from fans who felt that you were calling their loyalty into question. What would you say to fans who feel upset by what happened?

Don't be upset because I wasn't calling anyone's loyalty into question. I don't think anybody could love the football supporters more than I do. Everything I've done ever since I came on board has been for them and it's not just money. I've worked very, very hard.

If they think that I'm accusing them of not being loyal, that is totally and utterly incorrect. They are the best football supporters in the world and I preface what I said by saying that.

Do you think sometimes they don't sing enough?

I think there is a nervousness that sets in and I think that's the time you really need to shout and scream and let the players know.

It does help. It's energising for the players as they're part of the team in a way. When the Middlesbrough incident happened everybody was saying, "We had a twelfth man there." That's what they were saying and we needed a twelfth man on Monday evening.

Has Nigel Worthington said anything to you about the incident?

No, because yesterday I had back-to-back appointments and I didn't talk to anybody. I frankly don't really know what all the fuss is about.

Any supporters who think that I think they're disloyal, I think they've got completely the wrong end of the stick – I love the supporters and they are the best supporters in the world and I'm one of them! That’s what I am.

How does it make you feel when you see some of the things that are in the papers?

I have not read any newspapers today and I won't be reading any newspapers today and I can tell you why I won't be. In 35 years of being in the media, I've had all this mud flung at me many, many times. It's not the first time. It's nothing unusual. I've been through it all before and the best way to deal with it is not to read them.

Some of them are saying that you brought the game into disrepute.  That’s all water off a duck’s back, is it?

How could I have brought the game into disrepute? You tell me how I could have done that?

Well the suggestion seems strange but Oliver Holt in the Daily Mirror said your rallying cry at half-time was worse than what Jose Mourinho did in Cardiff when he made the 'shh' gesture to Liverpool fans.

I sometimes feel appalled at the way the national press just writes off small football clubs. But what I can tell you is that no other incident has got green and yellow on every national newspaper in the country before, like this and that's great! It's good – Norwich is on the map!

If Norwich are 2-0 down to Chelsea on Saturday, at half-time will you do it again?

No, I won't do it again because obviously people are sensitive so I won't do it again. But I will still be a passionate football supporter and that won't change.

And you're planning to sit in the Barclay end on Saturday with the supporters?

Well I have a season ticket in the Barclay end and I go in there from time to time.

Finally, the result on Monday wasn't great from a Norwich City point of view either. Five points adrift from safety in the Premiership. Are you confident we can be a Premiership team?

I'm not confident about anything because football has strange ways of twisting and turning and actually nobody really knows. At the end of the day it is unpredictable and if it was predictable we wouldn't be going and it wouldn't be so exciting so I'm not making any predictions at all but I'm filled with hope.

You can listen to the interview by clicking on the link on the top right-hand side of this page.

last updated: 30/03/07
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