Norwich City, A Brief History…



Norwich City Football Club were founded during the summer of 1902 at the White Lion Street café “The Criterion”, during a meeting hosted by Robert Webster and Joseph Cowper-Nutchey. The building still exists in Norwich city centre, the last time I checked it was a men’s clothing shop. As well as being school teachers, both Webster and Cowper-Nutchey were keen sportsmen and had played football for Norwich CEYMS F.C. Norwich CEYMS were founded in 1888 in Swardeston, about four miles south of Norwich. The CEYMS stands for Church of England Young Men’s Society and I’m happy to say the club’s still going, playing its football today in the Anglian Combination Premier Division. Webster would go on to become the clubs first chairman, and for playing his part in the founding of Norwich City, Joseph Cowper-Nutchey was made an inaugural member of the Norwich City Hall of Fame.

Robert Webster and Joseph Cowper – -Nutchey

Playing in blue and white shirts City played their first ever game in the Norfolk & Suffolk League, three months or so after their founding against Essex team Harwich & Parkeston. The game being played at Newmarket Road, Norwich City’s first home ground. 1905 saw Norwich City elected to the Southern League, and playing in front of increasingly larger crowds the club began looking for a new home, a bigger home. As everyone knows the clubs nickname is The Canaries but the clubs first nickname was The Citizens, how the club came to be known as The Canaries is an interesting one. About three years after the club was founded the then chairman, Wilfrid Lawson Burgess, decided the club needed an overhaul in national identity within the game.

The Chairman was a keen breeder of canaries, so what to do? Norwich changed their team colours to yellow and green, the new nickname? The Canaries. The club emblem of the yellow canary was added to the shirts around 1922. In 1908 they moved to a new address at Rosary Road and in keeping with the clubs new identity the ground was named The Nest, which by all accounts was a disused chalk pit. After a number of years playing at The Nest the club built their present home, Carrow Road, it was opened for business in the summer of 1935. Norwich City’s new stadium derived its name from the street that surrounds it on three of its four sides; the remaining boundary is the River Wensum. The name of Carrow pertains to the old Carrow Abbey that at one time stood by the Wensum.

City’s first Canary crest, 1922

The Canaries regained their Division One status for the second time in eight years at the end of the 1981 – 1982 season, when they finished third in Division Two behind champions Luton Town and runners up Watford.  Team manager Ken Brown hadn’t been in the job long, he had taken over from John Bond late in 1980 when Bond agreed to go and manage Manchester City.  Norwich have never had a particular great trophy winning record, however the Canaries were chirping loudly in 1985 when Ken Brown lead his side to League Cup glory courtesy of a 1 – 0 win over Sunderland, although I hasten to add Norwich’s victory needed an own goal from Sunderland defender Gordon Chisholm. Sadly for City, at the end of that season they found themselves once again in Division Two, a relegated team.  It was only the second trophy in the clubs history, the first being the lifting of the same trophy back in 1962 when Ron Ashman held aloft the League Cup with a comfortable 4 – 0 aggregate win over Rochdale, the triumphant Norwich City manager back then was Willie Reid, a native of Glasgow. 

As mentioned the Norwich City of the early ’80’s had garnered for themselves a reputation of something of a yo-yo team. Managed by Ron Saunders the 1971 – 1972 season saw Norwich City claim the Division Two title, therefore reaching the First Division for the first time in the clubs history. John Bond succeeded Saunders in 1973, after impressing as manager of south coast club Bournemouth.  The future looked bright for Norwich City, a side on the up after reaching the top flight for the first time in their history lead by a successful manager in John Bond. However their stay in the top flight didn’t last long as they were relegated back to Division Two at the end of the ’73 – ’74 season along with Manchester United and Southampton.  Happily though, like United, the Canaries bounced back to Division One at the first time of asking.

That first season back in Division One was all about consolidation for the Canaries, something they easily achieved when they finished in tenth place in Division One.  John Bond took Norwich City to a couple of League Cup finals during the 1970’s, the first time was in ’73 where they lost 1 – 0 to Tottenham Hotspur, Ralph Coates scoring the only goal of the final for the north London club. A couple of years later Norwich were back at Wembley again for another League Cup final, unfortunately for them they lost again this time to Aston Villa by the same score line, Villa were then managed by the man Bond succeeded in the Carrow Road hot seat, Ron Saunders.  As far as the league was concerned the Canaries were finishing in mid table positions.

Duncan Forbes, Canary team captain in two League Cup Finals during the ’70’s, sadly for him they lost both finals.

As the 1980’s began it looked as though Norwich had got to grips with Division One, no longer a team that were constantly fighting relegation battles. The club itself was never the richest or the best supported, it was never seen as a “glamour” club, however by the turn of the ‘80’s it looked as though the Canaries had finally mastered the art of staying in the English top flight.  So John Bond was off to Manchester City and Ken Brown took the reins at Carrow Road.  However, despite a new well respected manager and despite the fact that the Canaries had now become a regular fixture in Division One, Norwich City found themselves relegated once more at the end of 1980 – 1981 season, joining them in Division Two would be Leicester City and Crystal Palace.  So as mentioned right at the beginning, at the end of the 1981 – 1982 season under Ken Brown the Canaries once again strode back into Division One after a short spell in Division Two. 

So, Norwich had once again managed to get themselves back up to Division One under manager Ken Brown. Norwich City didn’t start the ’82 – ’83 season that well. The opening game saw a 2 – 1 home defeat to Manchester City. Their next two games were away to Arsenal and Swansea, the Canaries earned a decent point at Highbury following a 1 – 1 draw with the Gunners, unfortunately their next game at Swansea’s Vetch Field saw Norwich easily brushed aside to the tune of 4 – 0, Bob Latchford getting himself a hat trick for John Toshack’s team. Ken Brown’s team made up for heavy defeat in their next game at home to Birmingham City. Just under 14,000 saw the Canaries wallop the Brummies 5 – 1, the Canary goals coming from Mark Barham with a couple each from Martin O’ Neill and Keith Bertschin. The Canaries would go on to record another thirteen wins that season in a twenty two team division they lost sixteen and drew twelve, it meant that they would finish in fourteenth place on fifty four points. As mentioned another League Cup final victory was only a couple of years off, bringing smiles and cheers from fans not too used to smiles and cheers. As the years would progress the club would see further relegation and promotion, interestingly the club would see a new face on the board of directors at Carrow Road, that person who used to make cakes on Swap Shop, come on you Canary fans! Where are you?!!!!

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