New striker signing could see football’s most iconic shirt deal in tatters.

19 Jul

Sure, Manchester United may have finally beaten Brentford in the race to Christian Eriksen’s signature (a wait that has taken them almost as long as that for a league title). Yes, we’re all seeing the same clickbait ’stories’ about Ivan Toney – move along, nothing to see here and then insert emoji of your choice. The question of which defenders will be fit for the start of the season hangs heavy in the air, as Thomas evaded that question on Saturday with all the ease of Mathias Jensen playing a through ball. Besides, there are wonderful new signings in the shape of Keane Lewis-Potter, Aaron Hickey and Albania international goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha, who has swapped Lazio for Manchester United Lionel Road. Fair to say there’s plenty going on at present yet the top, top news is a story which you may well have missed. It comes to us from Barnsley via Ipswich Town and Tranmere Rovers, amongst others. Prolific striker James Norwood has found a new home but, in the process, has inadvertently ruined one of football’s greatest bromances. Namely, that with his long-running shirt sponsor – Bees’ fan, err, James Norwood.

James Norwood, left. And right.

Those of us with an interest in all things EFL will be familiar with James Norwood  – the player. The lower league goal machine who has been banging them in for fun since 2009. Primarily at Tranmere Rovers but more recently doing the business for Ipswich Town. Supporting him all the way on this journey through the footballing pyramid has been namesake James Norwood. A Brentford fan as well known in TW8 as being the one who these days lives in California yet seems to have an incredible knack for making it to most games. Something which, for the record, has been as applicable to our time in League Two as it is now we’ve made it up the charts.

James (our James) is a man for whom the initial novelty of sponsoring the player at Forest Green Rovers has turned into an almost ritualistic routine of keeping that run going. From The New Lawn to Prenton Park, James has been there. Perhaps not making it over for every ‘meet the player’ bash but still with another shirt for the wardrobe and another programme entry saying: James Norwood. Sponsored by: James Norwood. Something which in itself could well cause those out of the loop to think the talismanic goal scorer was also somewhat of a narcissist. For the record, he isn’t. As far as I know. 

The move to Ipswich Town in 2019 saw James continue his fine run of sponsorship form. Norwood and Norwood becoming a partnership as well known in club circles as Morecambe & Wise. Ant and Dec. Guns ’N Roses.

Mrs. Norwood, perhaps, wondering why her husband keeps running off to Europe to hang out with a footballer from teams he doesn’t even support. At face value, her confusion perhaps understandable but you can’t put a price on a great tradition. Moreso, one which has been going so strongly for so long. Until now, where disaster has struck…..

After three seasons at Portman Road, Norwood was released by Ipswich at the end of the 2021/22 campaign. Barnsley made their move and two days ago our man signed for the Oakwell club. All well and good except herein lies the problem. The Barnsley Supporters Club have moved faster than Toby Tyke in a mascot race (oh, we haven’t forgotten at Brentford…..) to secure the prestigious player sponsorship slot. 

Norwood is now a Tyke

You can’t blame them. A new hero joining the ranks and the chance to associate themselves with this footballing demi-god.

The not so good news is that it means our James Norwood is now out in the cold. His fine run over and the chance to continue football’s longest running  / most bizarre shirt sponsorship now in ruins.

There was nothing malicious about the new incumbents’ move. How were they to know up front?

The question now being whether fair play, gallantry and a sense of honour may intervene to see them step aside? A question of whether Barnsley can do anything to help broker a truce that would see this long running saga continue?

Come on Barnsley. Come on CEO, Khaled El-Ahmad. Is there ANYTHING you can do? Otherwise, this one will end with James Norwood (our James Norwood) forever remaining an ex-tractor fan.

Might this one see an 11th hour reprieve?

Nick Bruzon 

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One Response to “New striker signing could see football’s most iconic shirt deal in tatters.”

  1. Bernard Quackenbush (@BernardQuack) July 20, 2022 at 5:36 pm #

    Love the story. This would be the sort of thing Colin Murray would lap up (if EFL on Quest still existed).

    By the way, we DEFINITELY won that mascot race

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