Of the many lessons imparted to us by the frenzied 48 hours last week in which the European Super League was founded, roundly condemned and then disbanded, one stood out: that supporters do not have to be in stadiums to have an impact on the game they love.

The protests outside grounds across the country were a precise and very public display of the power that fans can wield and the impact they can have, not only on the clubs they support but on football as a whole. …


I’ve always felt it was too obvious to have a striker as your favourite player. How boring, I’d think, how basic, to like the player who scores the goals, the one who wants all the glory to themselves! Instead I loved brick-headed centre backs, valiant goalkeepers, midfield powerhouses — anyone but a striker.

Then came Teemu Pukki. It’s hard to know when, exactly, he won me over, but somewhere between his arrival in July of 2018 and November of that same year, when he emerged as the leading light of our promotion charge, I realised that he was different.

Level-headed…


As I write this, Norwich City have won eight games on the spin, are sitting comfortably at the top of the Championship table and have 79 points, ten clear of their closest rivals, having won four more games than any other side.

But remember: we must not be lulled into thinking that what we are doing this season is easy, just because that is how this team makes it look.

Only seven relegated sides have secured an immediate return to the Premier League in the past ten seasons, and only two through automatic promotion: Burnley in 2015–16 and Newcastle in…


When it became clear — some time between March last year, when football stopped, and when it resumed in June — that the season would be starting again without fans in stadiums, we were introduced to the concept of “ghost games”, from the German word Geisterspiele. It is how they describe matches played in empty grounds, and it was an image everyone immediately understood, not least because it seemed to articulate that feeling we all had: if there is no one there to watch a game, did it really happen at all?

We learnt last week — which marked a…


Despite ten years of Catholic education and an Irish mother who lights a candle at the cathedral any time she needs a favour from the Big Man, to me, football is still the most convincing evidence of the existence of a higher power.

The most compelling case study right now is surely the Premier League travails of Sheffield United. As I admitted in a column last season, they are a team I’ve taken against for the flimsiest of reasons — and, on a very basic, petty level, I didn’t enjoy seeing them succeed while we were not.

This campaign, though…


In the summer of 2019 I stood in a packed London pub to cheer on England in the semi-final of the women’s World Cup and thought about the first time I saw a women’s football match on television, when I was a kid. Such public, collective support for the women’s game seemed unimaginable back then.

It was a stark illustration of the progress made in football, which I’ve seen firsthand: I went to my first Norwich match when I was six, meaning I have been around the sport, as a player and a fan, for more than 20 years.

But…


When you become a fan of a football club, it involves another, twin pact, one written in the small print, implicit but not articulated: you get a new enemy, too. And whether we like it or not, our own fortunes are, in a way, tied to theirs.

Every team will have one, and some will have several: a nemesis, usually chosen by geography, though there are other reasons rivalries develop. Few footballing grudges are as fierce as that held by AFC Wimbledon towards MK Dons, for example, the team created when their old Wimbledon side moved to Milton Keynes in…


Cometh the hour, cometh the Krul. No, I’m not referring to the moment when Louis van Gaal chose to sub on Tim Krul for the Netherlands just before their penalty shoot-out against Costa Rica in the 2014 World Cup quarter-final, which paid off handsomely when Krul saved two of the five spot kicks and sent his country through.

I’m talking about right now, about this mad, sad, strange year. …


This piece was published in OTBC, the Norwich City matchday programme, for the Premier League game against Brighton & Hove Albion on 4 July 2020. Subscribe to OTBC here.

There is a footballing phenomenon that I’ve often witnessed but never tried to articulate until I saw it perfectly demonstrated after our loss to Southampton, as we looked ahead to Everton, and then our FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United a few days later.

After an initial outburst of frustration, the traditional post-defeat fans’ lament, the dust settled, and then… optimism. Again. …


This piece was published in OTBC, the Norwich City matchday programme, for the Premier League game against Everton on 24 June 2020. Subscribe to OTBC here.

During months of lockdown, like many of us, I’ve had time to reflect. When I learnt that the Premier League was resuming, and therefore these columns would, too, I went back through what I’d already written, to reacquaint myself with a time that already feels like the distant past.

“Well this is weird, isn’t it?” is how I began my first OTBC piece, which, well, is weird, isn’t it? It could describe not just…

Hannah Shaddock

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