In the recent Norwich City v Preston North End game, NCFC fan David “Spud” Thornhill found himself faced with the opportunity of a lifetime. At the 83rd minute, Mark Jones, one of the linesmen, found himself suddenly struck by injury, meaning the fourth official, Andy Davies, had to take over the now vacant position.
With no substitution for Mr Davies, this left referee Tim Robinson with a difficult decision. Robinson had even called the players of both teams in, with the consideration of stopping the match if emergency cover could not be found.
Luckily for Norwich City fans a hero waited in the wings. One of, their very own, Spud, rose to the occasion and saved the game. As a qualified referee who officiates for local games, Mr Thornhill was able to step in, enabling play to continue. After a quick change and a briefing from the referee, Spud was ready to take his position centre stage. Just moments later, like a true professional, he raised the LED board for all at Carrow Road to see, displaying at least 10 additional minutes of play.
You could say that this experience has been something of an early Christmas present for the lifelong Norwich City fan, who has been attending matches since his first experience of a home game in 1982. Spud boasts a collection of every Norwich City matchday programme, home and away, from 1971 to present day, and has dedicated an entire room of his house to memorabilia. He appears to have been thoroughly overwhelmed by the whole episode attracting attention from both local and national media.
Suffice to say, Mr Thornhill may think he was the lucky one that day. However, it would appear that we are the lucky ones, for the faithful ‘Spud’ has won over the hearts of many, embodying the true meaning of sportsmanship by not letting the match end prematurely. As Norwich City Football Club said in a tweet later that day “Always bring your boots, eh?” You’ll never know when you need them!