Monday, 14 September 2015

Norwich City - a great day out and a game to forget!

I tried to give Cherry Chimes readers a heads up on this article last week. Tim Aston who sits just in front of me and my boys in the Family stand has been kind enough to give us an appraisal of what it was like to go and watch the Cherries play Premier League football at Carrow Road, Norwich. Apart from needing a tracker device to seek and locate a Norwich matchday programme, he seems to have gotten on pretty well.

You can follow Tim on Google+ +Tim Aston and on twitter @Timaston77

Our first real view of Carrow Road.
When the Premier League fixtures were first published back in June, with trips to Anfield, The Ethiad, Stamford Bridge, Old Trafford to name a few, I think most Cherries fans will be forgiven for not picking this fixture out immediately. It’s a measure of how far AFC Bournemouth has come in such a short space of time. However, if we are to remain a regular feature on the Premier League fixture list each year, games like these could play an important role in our survival.

There are more pictures on MatchDayGallery
Refreshments in Las Iguanas. Not sure which hand
to drink from first!
The walk back from The Riverside back to Carrow Road.

Having failed to convince my wife and boys to join me on a day trip to East Anglia, friends Alex and Darren were easily persuaded otherwise. So the stage was set for a lad’s day out to Norwich! Immediate thoughts turned to just how far away Norwich is and the now seemingly endless sets of roadworks between Bournemouth and the M25. So an 8.30am departure was agreed, and the opportunity to get a new ground under our belts began. With impressive away performances at Anfield and Upton Park already this season we left the south coast with justified optimism.

Carrow Road comes back into full view
Thoughts soon turned to the ‘shenanigans’ between the two clubs over the recent transfer window, Lewis Grabban won’t be involved today, surely? With the Spur Road and M3 negotiated with consummate ease (lots of cones, and no sign of any action) we soon joined the M25 and then M11 and an opportunity to stretch our legs at the Birchanger Green Services at 11am prevailed, where we found ourselves in good company as many travelling Cherries fans did likewise.
Carrow Road selfie opportunity.
Back in the car and as the landscape flattened we rolled into Norwich at around 12.30pm, and with no prior thoughts our attentions quickly turned to parking. We soon found that all suitable side streets were ‘residents only’ so without wanting to waste too much time we swerved into the City Hall matchday car park and acquainted ourselves with a friendly Norwich City fan (I’m not sure if Geoff was his name, but we’ll go with this anyway) who accompanied us to the ground. Our first impression: friendly fans and a nice city.

Once at Carrow Road, Geoff pointed us in the direction of the Riverside Complex which was home to lots of bars and pubs and we went our separate ways. He did tell us to look out for him as he sits in the stand adjacent to the away fans.

We followed our noses and soon ended up at the Riverside and were made very welcome in Las Iguanas restaurant where a 20% matchday discount on our food bill made our burgers and chilli taste that little bit better.

A 2.10pm ‘team check’ on twitter left us a little surprised, but ‘In Eddie we trust’. This was our cue to get to the ground as we followed the swathes of yellow and green back towards Carrow Road. With a few photo opportunities duly taken outside the stadium, we embarked on what soon became a quest for a programme! Strangely at 2.20pm the first two programme kiosks we came across were all out of their matchday publications and at the third attempt we succeeded, they must produce a good matchday read in East Anglia?

From the outside Carrow Road looks impressive and is equally so inside, we’re Premier League of course, and should expect no less on our away days this year! A far cry from the modern, albeit slightly bland stadia (St Marys and Leicester’s KP Stadium immediately spring to mind), Carrow Road is, as expected, traditional yet well presented. It is also perhaps the only stadium that I know of with a Holiday Inn in one corner of the ground. Could our cumulative £120 spent on tickets have been reduced by booking a vantage point from one of their pitch side rooms? We soon picked out our new mate Geoff in the home end and he gave us a suitably errr friendly greeting (I’m not sure if the photo will survive the editor’s chop!)
A friendly greeting from our new Norwich mate Geoff.
Onto the game…I’ll leave all the technical analysis to @PeterBell19, he’s far better at that than me [Ed - not sure about that], but this was by far one of the most disappointing performances from the Cherries of recent times. With the Cherries looking resplendent in pink (I know my view is not shared by all!), it was a shame their collective offerings on the pitch did not match their striking new attire. If Norwich shaded the first half, we surrendered in the second. I don’t think we’ve missed the drive and tenacity of Harry Arter more so than today and if Charlie Daniels is nearing full fitness, it can’t come soon enough. This is a game for the players and fans to put behind them and I guess for the management to critically reflect on. Fans around me were likening this performance to that of Blackburn away last season, which being well over a year ago now just goes to show how consistently well treated we as fans have been over recent times. To my mind our display on Saturday was not dissimilar to some our early Championship offerings in 2013, we moved on then, we’ll do the same now I’m sure.
2000+ loyal Cherries fans in Norfolk
Interestingly, Coach Simon Featherstone’s vantage point of the game was from the corner of the ground between home and away fans, who appeared to be in frequent contact with the away bench?

I’d take two (small) positives from this game. 
1. Steve Cook nets his first Premier League Goal 
2. We were playing (and with no disrespect) Norwich, if our opponents were of the calibre of Manchester City yesterday our goal difference could have taken a severe battering!
Simon Weatherstone’s vantage point for most of the game,
was there no room for him on the Cherries bench?
Ref watch: - Having been on the wrong end of some terrible performances against Leicester and Liverpool, referee Martin Atkinson restored some credit to the Premier League group of referees by largely slipping into the background in this game. Asides from perhaps Simon Francis being fortunate to have stayed on the pitch, this was a plumb game for a ref with few contentious decisions to preside over. I’ll go for an 8/10 [Ed - high praise indeed for the man in black]. Why not 10? This must have been an easy one for him, with few ‘big calls’ to prove that he can get it right when it matters!

After a brisk walk back to the car it took a respectable 20 minutes or so to negotiate our escape from the car park and we were on our way at 5.30pm. A non-stop journey back to the south Coast was finally broken as I pulled up outside my local Chinese takeaway at 9.05pm!

Thanks Tim for a good report on what it was like on your lads day out to Carrow Road. I hope we get a few more reports from readers this season like that only with a better score line for the Cherries.

That reminds me - if anyone is going to Deepdale for the Preston NE Capital One Cup match and fancies writing a similar report of their trip on the road, by rail, boat, plane etc, feel free to have a go but drop me a line to let me know before hand. 

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