In the film Twenty-Four Hour Party People a tramp, played by Christopher Eccleston, quotes the ancient philosopher Boethius to a bemused Tony Wilson.
“It’s my belief that history is a wheel.”Inconsistency is my very essence” -says the wheel- “Rise up on my spokes if you like, but don’t complain when you are cast back down into the depths. Good times pass away, but then so do the bad. Mutability is our tragedy, but it is also our hope. The worst of times, like the best, are always passing away”
A quick glance at the Championship table, currently topped by QPR and Norwich, followed by a courtesy look at the inaugural Premier League fraternity, confirms that the Roman thinker indeed knew his onions.
For way back in the spring of 1993, as the razzmatazz of the brand new, and newly branded, Premier League concluded with Man United winning their first title for many years it is the teams that finished third and fifth that prompt particular interest.
Norwich and QPR respectively.
Back in the era of Mr Blobby, Mrs Doubtfire, and Mickey Quinn, who could all conceivably be one and the same person, the two sides more than held their own in the top flight of English football. Indeed Norwich had led the way for much of the campaign, only to falter when vertigo appeared to set in around February.
Known for their open, attractive football, and staying true to such convictions, brought City and Rangers widespread admirers and credibility. They were generally popular with rival supporters who looked upon each club as the likable, non-threatening sort, who would perhaps befriend your girlfriend but not have the spuds to ever try it on with her. Well, Les Ferdinand aside.
In the immediate seasons that followed the canaries chirped in Munich, whilst Trevor Sinclair scored outrageous bicycle kicks that would be scoffed for being too unrealistic on FIFA.
The future looked bright and, although neither had a particularly illustrious history or substantial fanbase, being in from the start at the inception of the Premier League – a concept based upon the formation of an elite clique distancing itself with ever-increasing wealth and luster from the rest – meant that each club had a real possibility to establish themselves as a major force in years to come.
Alas Boethius’s damned wheel turned and the best of times passed away.
In the eighteen years since both clubs have experienced mixed fortunes, mostly erring on the miserable. Mutual slumps took each side to bleak spells in the third tier as temporary traffic lights were erected at both Loftus and Carrow road. Their opportunity to augment their standing within the game; to instill themselves as genuine top level counterparts to Everton, Villa, and Spurs, went with relegations in 1995 (Norwich) and 96 (QPR), just one season apart. The hoops even suffered the indignity and strife of administration.
Norwich meanwhile endured the indignity and strife of having a tipsy cook self-appoint herself as half-time cheerleader.
Overall then it’s been nearly two decades apiece of false dawns, turmoil and the occasional sprinkling of surrealism.
Yet never once did either side sacrifice their footballing ideals, irrespective of who was in charge. Such beliefs are ingrained in the brickwork at each club and stylish passing is expected by the fans regardless of circumstance.
For this reason, and yes, perhaps for nostalgic cravings too, it will be a pleasure to witness the return of two founding members of the modern age of English football.
Cardiff and Reading still have a significant say in matters but let us hope that the wheel of fate completes it full cycle of providence. Warnock will entertain, with his unfinished grudge-fest with officials and old foes alike; Norwich will delight us with their attractive fare under the admirable tutorage of Lambert; and a 6th century philosopher will look down sagely from the heavens and smile.