Norwich City’s wonder goals provided me with a nice problem
07:14 14 February 2017
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N orwich City’s thumping win over Nottingham Forest provided a particular problem for us commentators; how to find the right words to do justice to the spectacular goals which lit up Carrow Road at the weekend?
When a player launches a thunderous volley from 20 yards and sends it crashing into the net, the impulse is to yell something along the lines of “ What a goal!” into the microphone.
It’s difficult not to lapse into the sort of cliché of a commentator that made Alan Partridge famous in his early days as a sports broadcaster on The Day Today.
As with most successful comedy creations, it is the uncomfortable element of truth in his lampooning that makes it work so well. The challenge was to get across to a listening audience just how wonderful Jonny Howson’s strike was while riding the crowd noise in the background which helped to give the impression that the goal we had all just witnessed was something out of the ordinary.
But one can get too excited about a goal, even if it was as good as Howson’s. That effort arrived just 10 minutes into the game.
I have learned from bitter experience that getting carried away by an early Canaries goal can sound very silly when it’s replayed after the match if City have gone on to spurn such a promising start.
The other rule that applies to football commentary, as well as many other aspects of life, is that you always need to leave yourself somewhere to go. Some football reporters will never give a player 10 out of 10 in the paper on a Monday morning for fear that the same man could perform even better in the next game. What do you do then?
Carrow Road had only just calmed down from Jonny Howson’s wonder strike when Josh Murphy justified his selection in the starting line-up with a well taken finish of his own and then, within seconds, Wes Hoolahan attempted to steal the show.
Having already threatened the Partidge scale with a description of a 20-yard volley, I now had to try and explain how Hoolahan had managed to lob the stricken Forest goalkeeper Stephen Henderson from 35-yards with a moment of pure inspiration. The dog-eared thesaurus of football-based superlatives that I keep in my brain was taking a battering.
Popular opinion seems to be that Howson’s goal was the pick of the bunch and should be remembered as one of the greatest efforts Carrow Road has ever seen.
Those claims are justified but I enjoyed describing Hoolahan’s goal more.
The opener had been from a corner so there was a mood of anticipation that a chance of a goal may be in the offing.
Wes’s came out of nothing and because it put Norwich into a commanding 3-0 lead and came so soon after Murphy’s, that was the one which, at the time, seemed to really get the ground jumping.
Match of the Day can keep its Goal of the Month competition for February, we were having our own ‘Goal of the Match’ contest at Carrow Road.
At the time of writing I haven’t had a chance to listen back to whatever it was I did shout for those two goals.
Moments like that are always a blur as my internal word search collides with trying to control the emotions that come with watching Norwich City either score or concede a goal and usually the need to work out where I put my pen so that I can note down what’s just happened but I do hope we did two such Carrow Road classics justice on BBC Radio Norfolk.
It’s a nice problem to have. For every Canary wonder goal there are several goalless draws which also need to be described in as honest and accurate a fashion as possible.
I imagine Saturday’s commentary will be replayed more often than the one I did in September 2009 on the 0-0 draw with Walsall in League One.
A race to 50
Wes Hoolahan’s memorable goal against Nottingham Forest took his tally of goals for Norwich City to 48.
But he faces some competition in the race for the next Canary half century.
Alex Tettey is back in contention for tonight’s clash with Newcastle United after suspension.
The Norway international missed the games against Wigan and Forest after collecting his 10th yellow card of the season in the hard fought 1-0 win over Cardiff.
The midfielder is another one closing in on a landmark. Since joining City in the summer of 2012, Tettey has been booked no fewer than 45 times.
That statistic is not meant as a criticism. I am sure some of those yellow cards have been avoidable but, in a way, that’s exactly what he is in the team to do.
If players like Hoolahan, Alex Pritchard or the Murphy boys want the freedom to cause havoc amongst opposition defences then they need someone who is prepared to take care of the heavy lifting in midfield. Getting on first name terms with referees is an occupational hazard of the crucial role that Tettey plays.
Neither is it fair to suggest that all he does is go around kicking people. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Alex Tettey’s Norwich City career to date is that he has never been sent off.
He must play with such control to sail that close to the wind without ever being totally blown off course, especially when a lot of refs need very little encouragement to show their red cards off.
Tettey is an important player for Norwich City, Alex Neil has said before that he is the first name on the team sheet when fit and not suspended.
Given that he’s reached 45 cards in four fewer years with The Canaries than it’s taken Wes Hoolahan to score 48 goals, the first to half century is a close one to call. Will Wes be raising his bat to the pavilion before Tettey completes his 50 shades of yellow?