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Indifference is a virtue: supporting lower league English football in Barça-ville

Por: | 17 de octubre de 2014


The look is one of pity, shame and quizzical uncertainty. I’ve come to know it well.

“But they are not in the Premier?” comes the inevitable question / riposte.

I shake my head. “No…”

But my audience is no longer listening. And I walk off, distraught at the impossibility of explaining my support for a lower league English football team to a Catalan.

Barcelona may well be a footballing city. But supporting any team that isn’t Barça - and at a push Espanyol - in the Ciutat Comtal is an experience akin to Sisyphus pushing his boulder up a hill: a series of futile frustrations, laborious disappointments and general indifference played out on an infinite loop.

The team in question is Norwich City FC, currently residing in the English second tier after a three-year stint in the Premier League. For the football fan in Barcelona, however, they might as well be playing on one of the smaller moons of Jupiter for all the attention they receive.

It was OK when Norwich were in the Premier League: there would be the occasional televised match on Spanish TV and Norwich would pop up from time to time on the news when they were handing a particularly vicious whipping at the hands of Luis Suárez.

(Yes Barça, your new player has, for some unfathomable reason, a whopping grudge against Norwich, last December making Premier League history by scoring a hat trick of hat tricks against the club. I have no idea why Norwich raised his hackles so. But if you could persuade La Liga bosses to let Norwich take part you’ll be guaranteed at least two goal fests a year.)

Admittedly, Norwich would rarely be part of the Catalan football dialogue when they actually won. But I took what I could get and the peak of the Barcelona / Norwich City crossover would see me in a city pub with as many as one other Norwich supporter, cheering on the team in a conveniently timed - i.e. nothing else was on - Premier League encounter.

But in the Championship, the stupidly named English second division, things are different. The 24 teams who battle it out there represent some kind of parallel footballing universe to the Catalans, who may well be aware of the logical possibility of an English second tier but will never experience its drag on their lives.

Maybe I shouldn’t care about such local indifference. The internet means I can follow Norwich’s matches from the comfort of my own bedroom, then drone on about their performance ad infinitum without troubling my front door.

But it is the sheer ignominy of the situation that really gets to me - the disbelieving pity in the eyes of the Barça fans as they try to work out why on earth I wouldn’t give up Norwich in favour of their own Champions League-winning, €100m spending, La Liga-record setting team.

“But you like Barça too, right?”

“Well, they’re OK. I prefer them to Madrid.”

Another look. “You’ll learn,” it says.

At other times it looks like the Catalans are deliberately snubbing Norwich. Both Sport and El Mundo Deportivo have 50-odd pages to fill with sport everyday - predominantly football - covering Barça news of such phenomenal banality it makes we want to go back in time and kill Gutenberg before he invents the printing press. So surely they, between them, could find a lowly paragraph for Norwich’s record signing / new manager / winning streak, among tempting “special” offers of Barça steak knives?

But no. Not a sausage. And I’ve pretty much given up looking.

Even worse is the lack of televised matches. Norwich matches are still, from time to time, on British TV. Those happy Barcelona pubs with Sky subscriptions could theoretically then still show them.

But they don’t. And if you have never experienced the despair of having your team’s all-important, table-topping local derby crowded out of the TV schedules by Stoke versus Hull and Getafe v. Elche then you can only take a rough guess at my pain.

Maybe I should be grateful for small mercies. At least Norwich have never lost to Barça. Manchester United have done so, several times and in several important matches over the past few years and my Manchester United-supporting, Sant Sadurni-dwelling friend is reminded of this by his in laws whenever they meet up on social occasions.

As such, you can understand his undisguised fury when his three-year-old daughter came home singing the Barcelona hymn after being taught it in nursery.

So if it comes down to indifference versus antipathy, I guess I’ll take indifference, sad and solitary though it may be.

You, Barcelona FC, can have your Champion’s League wins and world’s best player. We, Norwich City, have the world’s oldest football song, a celebrity chef owner and the Pride of Anglia title.

And I think you know what’s better.

Hay 4 Comentarios

I've spent quite a bit of time in both Madrid and London, and found it very easy to watch EPL games at various Irish pubs (and some sports bars) around Madrid. I'm afraid the reverse is not true, very difficult to find a pub showling La liga games in my part of London. I'm surprised it's difficult in Barcelona to see EPL games - I seem to remember there are a few "Irish pubs" there?

Do people in Barcelona know who Steven Fry is? Not by my experiences, sadly.

And Stephen Fry. You at Norwich have Stephen Fry. We at Fulham don't even have someone like that.

'Tooooooot el CAMP! Eeeeees un CLAM! Som la gen blau grana!'

Cultural fascism I tell you....

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Authors (Bloggers)

Chris Finnigan is a freelance journalist based in Barcelona. He writes for Barcelona Metropolitan and is a book reviewer and reader for The Barcelona Review. He is a graduate of the London School of Economics. You can find him on twitter @chrisjfinnigan

Ben Cardew is a freelance journalist, translator and teacher, now resident in Barcelona after growing up gracefully in Scotland via Norwich. He writes for The Guardian, the NME and The Quietus, among others, on everything from music to digital media. You can find him on Twitter @bencardew

Fiona Flores Watson is a freelance journalist, guide and translator who has lived in Seville since 2003, and has been a writer and editor for more than 20 years. She writes for the Guardian, Telegraph and Sunday Times Travel Magazine. Originally from Essex, Fiona is also Consulting Editor of and has her own blog, Scribbler in Seville. She has been contributing to Trans-Iberian since 2014 and tweets at @Seville_Writer

Jeff Brodsky is a freelance writer. He arrived in Barcelona in 2013 via an admittedly indirect route, living in Chicago, Arizona, Seville, Amsterdam, North Carolina and Madrid. Despite not having stepped foot in Seville for over five years, he still speaks Spanish with an Andalusian accent. Jeff’s writing has been published in newspapers and magazines in America and Europe.

Koren Helbig is an Australian freelance journalist and blogger enjoying a life of near-eternal sunshine in Alicante. She writes for publications in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, focusing on stories exploring smart and positive approaches to social issues. She hangs out on Twitter at @KorenHelbig and keeps a selection of her favourite stories at

Julie Pybus lives in a small off-grid house on a hillside in Catalunya. She usually focuses on helping charities and social enterprises with their publications and websites, but has also written for The Guardian, Country Living and The Observer. Julie launched and runs a hyperlocal website which endeavors to increase understanding between the different nationalities in her area @JuliePybus

Paul Louis Archer is a freelance photographer, multimedia storyteller and artist educator. A cross-disciplinary worker, who endeavors to encompass the mediums of photography, audio design and writing. Born in Hertfordshire of an English father and Spanish mother. Based in the United Kingdom. @PaulLouisArcher

Vicki McLeod is a freelance writer and photographer. She has lived in Mallorca since 2004. Vicki writes about her beloved island for The Majorca Daily Bulletin, the only daily English language paper in Spain; produces regular columns for the Euro Weekly News, and articles for Vicki runs PR strategies for several businesses in Mallorca and London as well as working on her own blogs and projects. She and her husband, Oliver Neilson, supply photo and text content for private clients via @phoenixmediamlr. She tweets at @mcleod_vicki.

Born in Newcastle upon Tyne and based in Barcelona, Alx Phillips writes about contemporary art, dance and theatre in a way that human beings can understand. For more previews, reviews, interviews and extras, check:

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