Norwich with its many medieval buildings and ancient cobbled streets has a rich and varied heritage and no account of this would be complete without a few words about its football club. With attendances at Carrow Road regularly exceeding 25,000, its reputation as a friendly family orientated club as well as the much anticipated and heated "Pride of Anglia" derbies with Ipswich Town, Norwich City Football Club is an integral part of city life and local identity.
The story of Norwich City began on June 14th 1902 when the club was formed by schoolmasters Robert Webster and Joseph Cowper Nutchey. The club's first ground was situated on Newmarket Road which they shared with Norfolk County cricket club at a rent of £25 per annum. Norwich played their first match on 6th September 1902 in a friendly against Harwich and Parkeston (a 1-1 draw). They notched up their first competitive victory against Beccles in the Norfolk and Suffolk League, eventually finishing their debut season in a highly respectable third. In their early years Norwich played in a blue and white halved strip and were nicknamed the "citizens" (the nickname "canaries" being adopted later in recognition of the popular pastime of canary breeding) and held the status of an amateur football club. This was challenged by a FA commission during the 1904-05 season which resulted in the club being declared a "professional organisation". After this Norwich were elected to the Southern League which included well known clubs such as Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham and West Ham. Eventually the stronger teams in the Southern League amalgamated with the mainly northern Football League and by 1914 there was a recognisable national league as there is today. In 1908 Norwich moved from Newmarket Road after chairman John Pyke had received a letter regarding any future use of the ground (the club would have to meet most of the upkeep costs themselves), and decided to move the club, stands and all to a disused chalk pit situated just off Rosery Road. The ground became known as "the nest" and would provide the home for Norwich until the club moved to its current ground at Carrow Road in 1935. The clubs fortune's took a dive during the upheaval caused by the Great War and also the fact that the club's status as a professional club had seen gate income fail to keep up with expenditure. In 1917 the creditors were called in and the club went into voluntary liquidation with the Nest's gates being closed and the clubs activities being officially wound up. The club was reformed on the 15th of February 1920 and later admitted to the Football league third division. It was during this period that the canary emblem on the team's shirts was officially adopted.
Kick it off throw it in have a little scrimmage,
Keep it low a splendid rush, bravo win or die;
On the ball city never mind the danger
Steady on now's your chance
Hurrah we've scored a goal!
This song which is sang at virtually every match at Carrow Road is in fact the oldest known footballing chant in the English game and is said to even predate even the formation of the club.
City's start to the 1930s got off to the worst possible start with the club finishing bottom of the Third Division. Fortunately the club was successful in its bid to be re-elected and City ensured Third Division football at the Nest in the following seasons. Norwich's stay at the Nest however came to an end in May 1935 when under pressure from the FA (who argued that the Nest was unsuitable for large crowds), the board decided that the club needed a bigger ground. After much consideration a site at Carrow Road was agreed on. Construction was completed in 82 days with local factory Boulton & Paul supplying most of the metalwork. City played their first game at Carrow Road in front of a record crowd of 29,779 who saw City beat West Ham 4-3. The new stadium was also honoured by the visit of King George VI on the 29th October 1938 as Norwich continued to fight it out in the third tier of English football. The club's fortunes soon took a nosedive. The Football League was suspended during the dark days of the Second World War and the people of Norwich had to wait until 1946 to see league football at Carrow Road again. To compound matters attendances were declining and the clubs financial outlook was grim. On the 12th December 1956 it was announced that the club could not pay the players £500 wage bill. Later that year it was announced that the club would need to find the sum of £25,000 to stave off liquidation. Fortunately the money was eventually raised with the help of new City chairman Geoffrey Wattling and an appeal fund set up by Mayor of Norwich Arthur South (both of whom have had stands at Carrow road named after them). As the new city board sorted out the club's financial problems, results on the pitch started to improve, most notably the legendary FA cup run in the 1958-59 season. Playing as a Third Division side City reached the semi-finals knocking out Ilford, Swindon Town, Manchester United, Cardiff City, Tottenham and Sheffield United before finally losing out to Luton Town in a 1-0 defeat in the semi-final second leg. The next decade would see the canaries fortunes greatly improve. City were promoted to the Second Division in 1960 and in 1962 manager Ron Ashman guided the club to its first trophy by defeated Rochdale 4-0 to win the League Cup. Norwich were promoted again in the 1971-72 to the First division under the management of Ron Saunders. Norwich for the first and not the last time in their history, reached English football's top league.
Norwich enjoyed mixed fortunes in their debut season in the First Division. Although reaching the League Cup Final where they narrowly lost out to Tottenham 1-0, they were relegated back to the Second Division in 1974. The club bounced back under the leadership of new manager John Bond and regained their First Division status as well as making another appearance in the League Cup final, losing to Aston Villa 1-0. The club fared better this time around and spent the next six seasons in the top flight before being relegated again in 1981. Once again however they managed to secure promotion back to the First Division. The 1984-85 season was a bittersweet experience for City with another League Cup Run, this time with City beating Sunderland in the final only for both clubs to be relegated in the League as well as fire gutting the main stand at Carrow Road. Here the old pattern repeated itself and City were promoted as Second Division Champions in 1985.
In 1991 the First Division clubs decided to break away from the Football League to form the FA Premier League which was to start in 1992-93 season. In that season Norwich finished third (their highest ever finish) thus qualifying for the UEAFA Cup. The following season was somewhat of a golden year for city with exciting new players such as Chris Sutton, Darren Eadie and Ade Akinbiyi coming through the academy and Norwich establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the top flight. Norwich also enjoyed perhaps their most famous result in the UEAFA Cup, beating Bayern Munich 2-0 at the Olympic Stadium with goals from Jeremy Goss and Mark Bowen with the club eventually losing out to Inter Milan in the fourth round. Unfortunately the good times were not to last. The departure of Mike Walker to Everton was followed by that of influential players such as Ruel Fox (Newcastle United), Chris Sutton (Blackburn Rovers) and Efan Ekoku (Wimbledon). Despite making a steady start to the 1994-95 season, a disastrous run of results saw City finish bottom condemning them once again to the second tier of English football. As City slogged it out in the second tier of English football the clubs financial position began to deteriorate. By 1995 the clubs debts were around £4.5 million and the next year they were forced to sell such players as Jon Newsome and Ashley Ward to balance the books, much to the chagrin of manager Gary Megson. Again it was Geoffrey Watling who came to the clubs rescue, buying out the much maligned Norwich chairman Robert Chase as majority shareholder. The clubs financial position was eventually secured in 1997 when TV cook Delia Smith and her husband and co-director Michael Wynn-Jones bought a majority stake in the club for £2.6 million.
Norwich experienced a period of stagnation in the First Division under the stewardships of Mike Walker (who returned for a second spell at the club but was unable to recreate his earlier success), and Bruce Rioch whilst Rioch's successor Bryan Hamilton lasted just six months in the job. Things began to improve after Nigel Worthington took charge in 2001 with Worthington guiding the team to the First Division play-off final (City losing out to Birmingham City on penalties) in his first full season as manager. Worthington finally secured promotion to the Premier League in the 2003-2004 season with City finishing the season as champions. Norwich's stay in the top flight was again brief and City were relegated following a 6-0 humiliation at the hands of Fulham. Unfortunately, City were unable to regain their top flight status and Worthington was sacked at the beginning of the 2006-2007 season after a poor run of results. City's fortunes took another nosedive as the club went through a succession of managers including Peter Grant, Glenn Roeder and finally former goalkeeper Bryan Gunn with the later being unable to prevent his team's relegation to League One (formally Division Two). Gunn was sacked as manager following an embarrassing 1-7 defeat at the hands of Colchester United and was replaced by Paul Lambert who ironically had overseen his predecessor's humiliation in the Colchester United dugout that fateful August afternoon. Soon after Lambert's arrival the clubs fortunes improved and City were promoted as champions to the Championship (formally the First Division).
The following season, Lambert led Norwich City to second place in the Championship, securing promotion to the Premier League for the club for the first time in 6 years. Despite falling short of lifting the Championship trophy, the team were the league's top goalscorers, and Norwich City became the first club to win back to back promotions into the top-flight since Machester City did the same in 2000.
Davage M, Eastwood J, Platt K, Canary citizens, centenary edition, Jarrold publishing, 2002