How to make a fool of yourself in public, by Delia Smith

As the first lady of the kitchen, Delia Smith is known to millions of devotees for dispensing advice on anything from omelettes to non-stick pans with trademark serenity.

As the first lady of the kitchen, Delia Smith is known to millions of devotees for dispensing advice on anything from omelettes to non-stick pans with trademark serenity.

But her performance on Monday night in front of a capacity crowd at her beloved Norwich City FC had the restraint and composure of Gordon Ramsay during the hottest moments of Hell's Kitchen .

As a director of the relegation-threatened Premier League club, Ms Smith is thought to have enjoyed corporate hospitality before taking her seat in the VIP box with her husband and fellow director, Michael Wynn Jones, for the evening kick-off against Manchester City.

After witnessing a 2-0 lead surrendered by a team whose wages she has partly bankrolled through her culinary empire, she decided it was time for some route-one tactics.

Emerging unsteadily on to the Carrow Road turf, wrapped up in a fur-trimmed coat and team scarf, she grabbed the microphone. The ensuing attempt to rouse the home crowd left them wondering whether she had perhaps overindulged in the fallen chocolate soufflé and Armagnac prunes cooked to her recipe in the stadium restaurant.

"A message for the best football supporters in the world," boomed Ms Smith's voice. "We need a 12th man here. Where are you? Where are you? Come on! Let's be having you!"

Her intervention appeared to backfire because the crowd was more subdued in the second half, even more so when their team was reduced to 10 men and the visitors took all three points with a goal from Robbie Fowler.

Yesterday, as millions saw pictures of her performance, Delia admitted in a statement that in trying to revive the spirit of a recent triumph, she may not have chosen "the best words".

"My message to the fans at half-time last night was a totally spontaneous appeal from the heart aimed at trying to do everything we could to get behind [manager] Nigel Worthington and the team.

"I was remembering the amazing response from our supporters when we were 4-1 down against Middlesbrough recently and they sang their hearts out.

"The media all agreed with Nigel after the game that the tremendous reaction from our fans in that situation had been a key factor in the amazing turnaround which followed and described them as 'adding a 12th man'.

"Maybe in the heat of the moment I didn't choose the best words, but what I was trying to do last night was tap in to that again."

The talk among fans was less of the impending relegation struggle and more about what prompted Ms Smith to such actions.

A club spokesman yesterday refused to disclose what she had been eating and if she had been drinking before the match.

Instead, he focused on the director's spontaneity and passion for the club in which she has invested more than £7mbecoming one of a select band of women to sit in the boardroom of a club in football's top flight.

He said: "Delia Smith is exceptionally passionate about all things Norwich City. Last night's event was not planned, it was a spontaneous act on behalf of Delia born out of the passion she has for Norwich City Football Club."

A poll conducted by the Norwich Evening News , reveals that 70 per cent found her behaviour "embarrassing" rather than "rousing".

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