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features, t'other side u't' fence

T’Other Side u’t’ Fence; Little Norwich

In the run up to Tuesday’s match with Norwich City we thought we would take advantage of one of our contacts and get an opposing fan’s perspective on the game. I will level with you though. The title to this piece is perhaps stretching the truth somewhat as I actually met the man behind Little Norwich about six years ago when we were both involved in the University of Lincoln magazine Bullet, and then subsequently played football for the same Sunday League team for five years. Still, this does at least represent the first time our blog sites have come face to face as his Little Norwich site was launched just this Summer.
As we’re both new to this cross-blog approach we decided to play it simple and take this preview down the basic Q&A route. So to give you a more rounded view of our forthcoming opponents here are the views of Sam of Little Norwich fame.
Name: Sam McDonnell

website: littlenorwich.com

Stand of choice at Carrow Road: I enjoy the atmosphere of the Barclay End but as these days I’m more likely to be there with my parents I’ll go for the Jarrold stand for its nice views.

How do you feel about Tuesday’s game?
I think it has the potential to be a fantastic game of football; as our away form has been good. Doncaster are a team who like to play as are we so it should be very entertaining.

How do you view Norwich City’s start to the season?
After the televised opening defeat to Watford there was a lot of negativity, but it has largely been lifted after some promising results and performances. Forest away was the big test, away to an established top championship side and we outplayed them. Seventh after five games is a great start.

Where do you think the City team is strongest?

Last season’s league winning side has been improved and has adapted well to the championship. Nobody has been phased by the step up and the team go into each game believing they can win it. Last season the teams ability saw them worthy champions, now there is a mentality and drive to fight and compete. One I’ve not seen in a Norwich side for a while. Our impressive fitness levels have meant our performances in the latter stages of games have helped us pick up points. Six of goals so far this season have come after the 85 minute mark so you won’t see any fans leaving early.

What do you view the weak point of Norwich as being?

Our formation is our own undoing at the moment. Lambert sets us up with Wes Hoolahan as the focal point, if teams get a hold of him we can struggle to get a foothold in matches.

Who’s the key player the Rovers should be daunted by?

Wes Hoolahan has the talent to dictate the game, and Grant Holt can dominate the league’s top centre halves. Chris Martin though is a terrific finisher and really looks at home at this level, he could make the difference assuming he plays. He has the small matter of a court appearance for a common assault charge to deal with this week.

Which Doncaster player are you most wary of?

Billy Sharp or Billy Shhhhhharp as we know him. City fans will be surprised to see him doing well, we assumed he was still over-celebrating the disallowed Sheffield United equaliser from Carrow Road in 2007. He seems to have really found his feet at Rovers and I’m sure he’d love to put one past us. I fear Doncaster and their football much more as a whole though, I’m a big admirer of the club and Sean O’Driscoll, a fantastic manager who I think any club in need should take a look at, certainly before they look at our boss anyway.

Who is Norwich’s current team scapegoat?

I’m not sure we have one at the moment, Russell Martin was getting some criticism for not impressing or inspiring as our only natural right back but has picked up well recently. The current crop really play for the shirt, and get respect from the fans.

Are you happy with Paul Lambert?

Delighted, about as happy as I could possibly be with a manager. I just fear the day our ambition can’t match his and he moves on.

Song/Chant to listen out for?

We may out sing a lot of teams on the road, but we are seriously lacking in creativity. The most popular one at the moment seems to be “We F***ing Love Grant Holt” (I know), I personally love (to the tune of London Bridge is Falling Down“Simon Lappin, King Of Spain, King Of Spain, King of Spain. Simon Lappin, King Of Spain, He Looks Spanish”. Brilliantly random.

Finally, match prediction?

Very tough one to call, I went to Forest thinking we would be found out so I’m going to optimistically predict a draw hoping we go one better. 2-2

Just for the record, and for an element of balance, here’s the answers I gave to be published on the Little Norwich blog…
Name: Glen Wilson
website: Viva Rovers

Stand of choice at the Keepmoat Stadium: Former Pop Sider now housed in the West Stand

How do you feel about Tuesday’s game?
Primarily disappointed that as an exile I’m unable to attend midweek home games and Norwich was one of those I was looking forward to this season. This could be a key game, yet its likely to get lost as most folk cast their eyes towards the impending visit of Leeds on Friday.

How do you view Doncaster’s start to the season?
We’ve only lost one league game in five and currently sit 10th so I am understandably upbeat though the League Cup exit disappointed. We’ve achieved this without playing above ourselves too so knowing that we’ve more to give puts us in a very pleasing position.

Where do you think Rovers are strongest?
Without a doubt midfield is our strongest area as we have a host of very capable footballers to choose from. John Oster has been reborn under Sean O’Driscoll and with support from Brian Stock, Simon Gillett, Martin Woods and Jamie Coppinger I wouldn’t swap our collective midfield for any in the division.

What is the weak point of the Doncaster team?
At current we are lacking pace in the centre of defence. Full-back James O’Connor played in the middle to provide that last season and hopefully once James Chambers is fit again O’Connor will resume that role. Until then its a significant Achilles heal.

Who’s the key player Norwich City should be daunted by?
Billy Sharp’s £1million plus transfer in the summer took the headlines, but our best piece of business was getting Oster to commit to two more years. He plays a point-guard role in our midfield with brilliant efficiency and represents more of a general threat than Sharp.

Which Norwich player are you most wary of?
Wes Hoolahan, Rovers have often struggled to deal with skilful players with a bit of pace, especially if they are afforded a bit of positional freedom. Grant Holt is an obvious threat, but at least you know where he’s likely to be.

Who is Rovers’ current team scapegoat?
Shelton Martis seems to have stepped into the position vacated by long-term scapegoat Lewis Guy in the Summer. Martis is nowhere near as bad as most fans seem to think, but then that’s the nature of scapegoats. For every dozen good touches he has tended to slip up once this season, and its that one out of twelve moment that most fans have seized on.

Are you happy with the Sean O’Driscoll?
Happy is an incredible understatement. Under Sean O’Driscoll I’ve seen Rovers reach their highest position in half a century playing the best football they’ve probably ever produced. In SOD we trust. The only thing stopping me from letting him sleep with my wife is the fact that I’m not married.

Song/Chant to listen out for?
Not heard often enough, but my favourite song for a while has been, to the tune of Sloop John B;
“We’ve won it one time
We’ve won it one ti-i-ime”
Johnstone’s Paint Trophy
We’ve won it one time”.

Finally, match prediction?
We’ve learnt how to score this season, but have also learnt how to concede, so a scoring draw looks most likely. That’s as bold as I’m going.

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About glen wilson

Former schoolboy, Glen Wilson writes on football and travel and has been editor of the award-winning popular STAND fanzine since before the award.

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