I was once a terrible football hooligan.
I'm not proud of the fact -not because I used to hack at complete strangers with a Stanley Knife, or chuck bricks through windows in random shopping centres in strange and alien towns.
Oh no, not me.
I didn't do that.
This is not a 'Once upon a time I was a very bad man' story.
This is a 'Once, just once I was a hooligan at the football.'
And not terrible as in 'I maimed and assaulted', terrible as in, 'I made a really shit job at it.'
I've already established the pre match ritual for a discerning Cringleford lad. After legging it from McDonalds we would make the happy pilgrimage to Carrow Road in order to be at the turnstiles when they opened at 1pm, ready for the 3pm kick off.
To sustain our growing bodies during this 2 hour wait (as if the cockles & mussels, McDonalds sans gherkins wasn't enough), we'd call into the newsagents close to the ground for a few packets of Soccer Shields.
Soccer Shields were the boys equivalent of Love Hearts in the 8o's. Made by Swizzles, they had a football teams name, and their nickname on each sweet, and had a club sticker on the inner packaging. I can't find any pictures online, but as I finished the wallchart that the stickers went on, I reckon it would be worth a few bob these days. And a great way to learn all those club nicknames, particularly the obscure Scottish ones.
The appearance of Norwich (The Canaries! -oh yes - he's still got it - even the little clubs), would be lucky, and herald the imminence of a goal if produced mid game.
But on the 21st March 1987, the red mist came down, and it all went wrong....
I don't remember the exact date, but I think Norwich were at home to Luton, I'm pretty sure I was in the 3rd Year at High School, and positive it was around my little sisters birthday, so that's the date that seems to fit the bill. I'd been shopping before the game, that's how I can be sure of the date. I'd bought something I needed for school for a class I dropped in 4th year, and a birthday present for Bec....
So there we were, with 2 hours to kill, standing behind the goal in the River End, taking it in turns to squash whoever it was that was closest to the side rail in the little penned in area behind the advertising hording.
Starting to have a bit of a sugar rush from all the Root Beer and Soccer Shields, I thought I might see if I could hit the helmets of the two passing policeman with said sweets as they circled (or is that squared?) the ground.
I was getting pretty good at it, but unbeknownst to me, the rozzers were well aware of my bit of fun, and were about to put a stop to it.
After a clean shot to one of the Bills helmets, the Soccer Shield bounced off his shoulder, and was neatly caught in his black, leather gloved hand.
Turning quickly on one heel, he just raised a solitary finger and pointed at me. If he'd squealed like Donald Sutherland at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, I don't think I could have been more scared.
Except I didn't show it. I just stood there grinning like a loon, high on sugar.
He asked me if I'd thrown it, to which I naturally shook my head, still grinning.
I don't think he was convinced, as his response was 'Yes it was, and you've been doing it every time we walk past.'
Next thing I know, I was being dragged over the hoarding, and frog marched towards the exit.
I think I was lucky that they didn't clock me for the hardened criminal that I was, and just ejected me out of the ground. Lucky they didn't check my carrier bag and find what I was packing.
Because these are the objects that not only date the event, but have caused me grief from friends over the years whenever this story crops up, and would have caused me so much more had the police revealed them in front of the terraces.
It was my 3rd year at school, because we were still doing Home Economics, and that meant needle work, and as part of a 'project' I'd bought a length of shiny pink material.
And Becs birthday, because I'd bought her (not Farmyard Animals Matt!) a set of 'Sylvanian Families.'
Little mice dressed to look like people.
If those items had been produced in front of the Norwich massive, I'd have never lived it down, and barely do in some circles to this day.
The record shows that the score was 0-0, so I didn't really miss much.
Yes dear reader, I was once a terrible football hooligan. Just once, and a really terrible one at that.