Time to put on a happy face?

By John Maiden
Last updated : 14 October 2008
It becomes a bit more difficult when the face in question has been painted Yellow and Green with a Canary on one cheek. A few weeks ago, whilst on my way to the Carrow Road press box I saw such a face and recognised it almost immediately as the face of the Canary fan at the top of this page.

I discovered that the painted face belongs to Claire, who now knows that she has a claim to fame as the official face of the Unofficial Canaries website. Of course she shares that honour with Captain Canary, but his first name I know not. What I do know, however, is that neither the Captain nor Claire appears to be smiling.

No surprise there, you might think, when the Canaries are so perilously close to the drop zone; but this leads me to wonder why the team has had such a disappointing start to the season? The answer given by more than one player during the international break seems to focus on the time it takes for new players to gel with the rest of the team. In other words, while individually the players may have the quality to do well in the Championship, it appears that the team as a unit does not.

In this context, two weeks without a game may help the team-building process, which is vital for success at all levels in any sport. Every manager and every fan knows how disruptive it can be when wholesale changes have to be made to a team because of injuries or suspensions. The incredible success achieved fifty years ago by the players who took Norwich City to an FA Cup semi-final replay owed much to the consistent line-up fielded by manager, Archie Macaulay, week in and week out. I can still reel off the names in that team from memory, but I have more difficulty with any team since then, except for the players who won the Milk Cup in 1985.

Perhaps these past achievements, together with more recent success under Mike Walker and Nigel Worthington, make the current situation harder to accept than might have been the case had the club not been playing and actually beating Manchester United in the recent memory of so many current supporters.

How then are we to bring back the glory days and put the smiles back on the faces of Claire and Captain Canary? Quite obviously a load of money injected into the club's coffers would help, but Christmas is still two months away and we may have to wait longer than that for a millionaire to play Santa Claus at Carrow Road. In the meantime the best bet for an upturn in the performance of the team might lie in the hands of the fans themselves. Those who can afford to do so have already suggested ways of putting more of their money into paying the wages of players. Perhaps some of Darren Huckerby's many fans should have offered to contribute to his wages for another season?

There is another way, however, which could involve every Canary fan and not just those with spare cash in their pockets. Instead of waiting for a goal to be scored before bursting into rapturous applause - accompanied by the rhythm of Samba De Janeiro played at full volume over the public address system - why not greet the kick-off at every game with an optimistic crescendo of sound? In the words of the song: "Grey skies are going to clear up, put on a happy face!" After all, we did get August weather in October this year, so perhaps smiling faces at matches might just produce the results on the pitch we should have had two months ago.

Before there is a chance to try out this cheery routine against Wolves at Carrow Road next Tuesday, the Canaries face the daunting task of getting back to winning ways on Saturday at Ashton Gate, where Glenn Roeder and the travelling fans will be hoping for a better referee than Andy D'Urso, who robbed them of a point on their last visit by awarding Bristol City a controversial free kick in stoppage time. That was nothing to smile about unless, of course, you had a robin painted on your face, or simply supported the other City...

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