Dave Gooderham: Norwood is a refreshing tonic at a time when fun is needed
PUBLISHED: 06:00 29 August 2019 | UPDATED: 11:52 29 August 2019
I still remember my first game at Portman Road and how chicken pox almost scuppered my dreams of live football. I ended up sitting in the stands spotty, writes Dave Gooderham.
I remember my Dad, God bless him, taking me to Portman Road to initially watch the likes of Ian Wright and Eric Cantona.
And I remember the first time a random Ipswich Town fan hugged me in sheer delirium and delight. Thank you Gary Megson for making that happen and making me an Ipswich Town fan until the day I die.
Strip it back and football really is a beautiful game. One of passion and skill, tears of joys, tears of despair. We can all relate to a recent Twitter video of a young Everton fan seeing Goodison Park for the first time.
So no genuine football fan should take any joy in the demise of Bury and the remaining threat hanging over Bolton.
I'm not a particular fan of either. I actually only know one Bolton fan, dear Jan, who must feel likes the days of Djorkaeff and Okocha - oh Jay Jay - are a distant memory.
As one Bolton fan said on the radio yesterday, he would take being bottom of League 2 this time next season, if he meant he still had a club to support. Bury have not been so fortunate and many, too many, must hang their heads in shame.
Just imagine that for a minute. Portman Road shut down, no team to cheer on a Saturday afternoon, no discussions over selection or tactics in the pub or on Twitter. It truly is unthinkable and has placed a stain on League One, the EFL and across the whole of football.
For Ipswich Town's part, all they can do is concentrate on themselves, beat who is front of them and keep bringing the feel-good factor back to Portman Road.
When manager Paul Lambert was eying a move for striker James Norwood, and we are led to believe this was a few months before the end of the season, he knew he was buying goals.
He would have also done his background checks and knew that he was bringing a character into a dressing room that seemed a little bereft of voices.
What he may not have known about is Norwood's desire to enjoy every single aspect of his life as a professional footballer. Oh, and his love of World Wrestling Entertainment.
We have surely all now seen Norwood's digital goal celebrations going global - and a tip of the hat to Town's social and digital media manager Grant Pringle for his sterling work in uniting ITFC with WWE.
First, we had our Lord mimicking Stone Cold Steve Austin, quickly followed by a homage to The Rock. This wonderfully led to Dwayne Johnson, as he is known, tweeting his appreciation to Norwood. It just gets better and better.
These are wrestlers I grew up with. Indeed, I once thought a cool celebration would be to leap into the goal and grabble the net, Ultimate Warrior-style. The thing is I wasn't brave enough to do that while playing for Steeple Bumpstead in front of three men on a bench. Norwood is happy to do it to a cast of millions (and still counting).
The main thing is that our main man has hit the ground running, the GIFs are a sideshow.
But, to the delight of Lambert, I'm sure, they are also maintaining a sense of fun which has been a real highlight of our infant journey into League One. Norwood is clearly relishing every moment of life as a professional footballer. He's gone down to go up and won't take anything for granted. Such a refreshing and fun attitude for a footballer should be applauded. And surely fun has never been more needed in football.
I leave today with two asides that continue to show my club is heading in the right direction. My boys were fortunate enough to play on Portman Road last week for a Junior Blues football festival.
As they were attempting their Cruyff flicks, out stepped the imposing frame of Tomas Holy onto the pitch. Not content with the usual meet-and-greet, the towering stopper even allowed each and every boy and girl to take a penalty against him. Brilliant.
Then there was the campaign led by this newspaper, alongside Radio Suffolk and TWTD, to fundraise for a statue of Kevin Beattie - an appeal that was declared successful this week.
Beat was one of the best, both on and off the pitch, and his memory and legacy has continued through the hard work and generosity of so many.