Bournemouth triumph just one part of an extraordinary seven daysIn the latest edition of his monthly blog, Senior Club Journalist Ben Mouncer reflects on an eventful week at Norwich City.
Saturday’s win at Bournemouth was my favourite of the season.
Right from when news came through on the south coast that Chris Martin had fired Derby to victory over the Ipswich in the early kick-off, we should have known that it was to be our day.
Yes, we have had memorable matches previously, not least our own 1-0 triumph at Portman Road, the crazy crescendo against Blackburn, our reincarnation at Cardiff and the goal blitzes inflicted on Huddersfield and Millwall, but this one trumped them all.
It doesn’t get much better as an away fan, and away fans we felt at the Goldsands Stadium, where the press box sat directly adjacent to the unrelenting swirl of noise and colour that was the Yellow Army.
City defied the odds time and time again, and got their reward.
For one, Bournemouth hadn’t tasted defeat in the league ‘where anyone can beat anyone’ since September 30. Eddie Howe was Manager of the Month and flavour of the month after guiding his team to the summit by combining style with substance.
Next, Matt Ritchie sneaked the Cherries in front after 18 minutes – alas, this was to be the first time Norwich had overturned a deficit to win since Blackpool 18 games earlier.
With the game firmly in the balance at 1-1 midway through the second half, a double blow: soon after Jonny Howson had seen red for a tackle on Yann Kermorgant, Ryan Bennett, who had stepped in for the unwell Steven Whittaker just seven minutes earlier, pulled up with his hamstring in one of those moments that has those of a yellow and green persuasion wincing.
Alex Tettey went to right-back. Cameron Jerome slotted onto the left side of midfield. City had ten men and over 20 minutes to hold off the top scorers in English football.
“We’ll win this,” I proclaimed to my colleagues with no hint of logic and all the optimism in the world. There was no justification for smugness when Jerome curled home the decider ten minutes from the end, nor when the final whistle sounded on an utterly compelling advert for the Sky Bet Championship – and a remarkable Norwich City three points.
All of this was of course watched, and at times overseen, by Alex Neil, our new manager.
Days have been a blur since Neil Adams, a man of impeccable character and with whom it was a pleasure to work, stepped aside a week ago.
Friday was the busiest: Alex’s appointment was at last confirmed through our official channels at 10:58am, but with a half-hour media briefing alongside David McNally in the diary for 12.30pm at Colney, there was no time to sit back.
Credit to our Communications team for speedily notifying our local and national colleagues in the media, all while us over in Content got together to record our first interview with the new boss before the convoy headed to the training ground.
Alex’s maiden press conference allowed us to see, first-hand, his qualities lauded by those north of the border: he was authoritative, well-spoken and honest, and clearly delighted to be given this opportunity.
An hour later, he was en-route to Bournemouth, a destination some 444 miles from Hamilton, his home for ten years, but sadly we couldn’t join him and the team at that point as originally planned for there was still much to be done.
It was worth it. Thousands upon thousands have headed to canaries.co.uk and Norwich City TV over recent days as the Club has been thrust into the news agenda. Thanks, and please keep visiting!
It has certainly been a week, for all sorts of reasons, that will stick in the memory.