Something on the pitch – but is it offside?

There was something on the pitch. All right, there was a ball and there were 22 players – all moving around at various speeds and not achieving very much, especially the ten in yellow and green and their goalkeeper in pink. The additional man in black seemed a bit put out to be there and kept running round and awarding free kicks, which is what you would expect. It was a normal match day at Carrow Road.

But there was something else on the pitch, and an official-looking man ran on to try and get rid of it. He failed, rather miserably. It was a feeling Norwich City supporters knew well.

There was a blackbird on the pitch. It was near the Barclay End, and it wasn’t doing much, although it was in plenty of space. No-one kicked the ball in its direction for a long time; in fact nothing much was happening at all. Supporters in the Barclay End were growing fond of the bird. It looked as if it might do something interesting, but nobody passed to it. It was almost as if they were avoiding it.

After some time, the bird flew – not very high, but up the pitch towards the River End, where it settled in a suspiciously offside position. The Barclay End started a new chant: “We want our bird back.” The River End looked smug, as if they had taken advantage of the transfer window in a particularly cunning way. VAR said nothing.

We assumed the bird would take its leave at half time – perhaps fly off in the direction of the dressing room, or even the river. But it stayed, and no-one tried to eject it. I think someone had realised that it might be a good idea to keep the City supporters distracted.

So the bird stayed at the River End. I would like to say it almost scored, but it simply got in the way of a corner and scuttled off towards the halfway line. After a while we realised that it was not making any productive runs or creating any openings. There was a risk it could get trodden on. The same went for the entire team, really.

I don’t remember the score, but the bird survived. The team probably won’t.