Canaries urgently need points against their bogey team
9 April ~ In 35 years of supporting Norwich I’ve never met a fellow Canary with fond memories of Selhurst Park. We have an appalling record there and it's our number one bogey ground. Our last win at Palace was 20 years ago and we’ve taken only five of 42 points from the 14 games played there since.
Despite that, thousands of Norwich fans still go. If anything, the fixture has turned into more of a social occasion where friends and family normally parted by the A11 get to catch up. It's a good chance for our sizeable expat community, the Capital Canaries, to see Norwich play in London and the atmosphere created by both sets of fans is raucous even though the games are always dreadful.
In my lifetime, the experience has never been a pleasant one. Invariably we’ll play badly, however good previous form has been; Selhurst is a pig to get to – the first time I visited the traffic was so bad we were 20 minutes late and arrived just as the first of five goals was being scored against us; I bought my young nephew his first half-time burger at his first away game there and it was truly disgusting. He's since become vegan. My family and friends based in London insist on going each year and that each year it will "break the curse". They still haven't seen us win. The list goes on.
So today's visit is all set up to be underwhelmingly familiar. The signs are there: we're unbeaten in three games, won the last two, we’re four points above 18th, on a high from Saturday’s last-minute winner against relegation rivals Newcastle and finally starting to look like a team. So the rule-book says a visit to Palace will stop all of that and we’ll find ourselves right back in the mire.
But hey, if we don't have hope, what else is there left? Manager Alex Neil is pretty shrewd when it comes to crunch games and he's starting to make us hard to beat. Our squad is as confident as it’s been since we won the play-off final last year. And Palace’s terrible home form might be the helping hand we need. Surely this is the one? I won't hold my breath but rest assured if we do win you’ll hear 20 years’ worth of pent-up frustration releasing itself right across London. Paul Buller
Photo by Simon Gill/WSC Photography: Norwich win last season’s play-off final to set up a probably fruitless trip to Selhurst Park