Wednesday, 12 Jun 2024

Norwich City History: All about the Club

Up and running since 1902, Norwich City history has had its share of good and bad luck, and a story we intend to expand upon in this article. Norwich City Football Club, situated in Norwich, Norfolk, is a prominent English football institution. Competing in the EFL Championship, they are positioned in the second division of England’s football hierarchy. Established in 1902, the club has called Carrow Road their home since 1935. Their historic rivalry with Ipswich Town, known as the East Anglian derby, has been alive since the club’s inception.

Regarding Norwich City trophies history, they clinched the League Cup in 1962 and 1985. Their most notable league achievement was in the 1992-93 season, finishing third in the Premier League, one of Norwich City honors. In the 1993-94 UEFA Cup, Norwich not only participated but also made history. They became the first English team to beat Bayern Munich at the Olympiastadion in Munich. And about Norwich City Champions League history, you must know that they only ever managed to compete at lower European levels.

Known as “The Canaries” due to the local tradition of bird breeding, their yellow-and-green uniforms reflect this legacy. Their anthem, “On The Ball, City,” which traces its origins back to the 1890s, holds the distinction of being the world’s oldest football chant still in use today.

Norwich City History: From the very Beginning

  • Full Name: Norwich City Football Club
  • Nicknames: The Canaries, The Yellows
  • Year of Formation: 1902
  • Place of Origin: Norwich, Norfolk, England
  • Home Stadium: Carrow Road
  • Owners: Delia Smith, Michael Wynn-Jones, Mark Attanasio
  • Manager: David Wagner
  • League: EFL Championship
  • Market Value: €73.05m

Starting as An Amateur Club, For a Short While

Starting as An Amateur Club, For a Short While
In 1902, a historic gathering took place at the Criterion Cafe in Norwich. There, a group of enthusiasts, led by ex-players of Norwich CEYMS, decided to form Norwich City F.C. Their competitive journey began with a match against Harwich & Parkeston on Newmarket Road that September. That season, they also became a part of the Norfolk & Suffolk League. Initially donning light blue and white halved jerseys, they were known as the Citizens. But by 1905, the club had earned the nickname “The Canaries,” inspired by the local hobby of canary breeding. This new identity was soon cemented in their yellow jerseys with green detailing. A local newspaper poetically described the transition: “The Cits are dead, but the Canaries are very much alive.”

However, Norwich’s initial days as an amateur club under The Football Association (FA) were short-lived. By the end of 1904, they were classified as a professional organization. That made them ineligible to participate in amateur football. Allegedly, the club had paid for players’ gym usage, training, massages, and even player travel. A particular case mentioned an £8 payment made to a departing player without any receipt. Further, there were claims of unaccounted gate money and excessive traveling expenses. These accusations meant the end of club officials’ tenure, including founding chairman Robert Webster. The amateur football community was on the verge of ejecting Norwich. Just two days after the revelation, under the leadership of Wilfrid Lawson Burgess, the newly elected chairman, the club geared up to dive into professional football. This pivotal decision got backing at a significant public meeting in March 1905. Nat Whitaker, the Southern League’s secretary, was also present. Whitaker, envisioning the league’s expansion eastward, championed the club’s move.

Liquidation and Revival

Liquidation and Revival
Consequently, by May 1905, Norwich City F.C. replaced Wellingborough in the Southern League, marking the onset of their professional era. Due to growing match attendances and stringent conditions in a proposed lease extension, Norwich had to abandon their Newmarket Road venue. They relocated to a repurposed abandoned chalk pit in Rosary Road, which came to be recognized as “The Nest.” The Nest was ready by the beginning of the 1908-09 season. The stands from Newmarket Road were reassembled at the new location. However, the First World War brought football activities to a standstill. Facing escalating debts, Norwich opted for voluntary liquidation in December 1917. The club witnessed a revival on 15 February 1919, with Mr. C Watling, the father of the future club chairman Geoffrey Watling, playing a pivotal role. In 1920, as the Football League introduced a Third Division, Norwich joined and kicked off their league journey on 28 August 1920 with a 1-1 draw against Plymouth. Their initial decade in the league saw them hover around mid-table positions. They did not go beyond eighth place but also didn’t fall below 18th.

During this era, players donned a canary symbol on their jerseys. By 1922, they embraced a simple canary badge, a design that, though evolved, is still in use today. The 1930s were a rollercoaster ride for Norwich City. This decade in Norwich City history began ominously as the team languished at the bottom of the league in 1931. However, their persistence paid off, securing their place in the league through successful re-election. The following years marked a transformative period for the club. Their remarkable achievement, a commanding 10-2 win over Coventry City, was a record for Norwich.

Moving to the Carrow Road

Norwich City history - Moving to the Carrow Road
Under the adept guidance of manager Tom Parker, the 1933-34 season saw them crowned champions. That earned them a promotion to the Second Division. However, the era also presented infrastructure challenges. Increasing audiences and reservations expressed by the Football Association about The Nest’s adequacy forced Norwich to evaluate their options. Though initial thoughts leaned towards renovating The Nest, the decision to relocate prevailed. Their new abode, Carrow Road, was a testament to rapid construction. It took just 82 days to complete, an interesting fact in Norwich City history. On its debut, the stadium, terraced on three sides and boasting a singular seated and roofed stand, witnessed an electric match against West Ham United on 31 August 1935. Norwich triumphed 4-3 and set a new attendance record with 29,779 spectators. Carrow Road soon witnessed a historic moment when, in its fourth season, King George VI graced a match on 29 October 1938.

This marked the first-ever visit by a reigning monarch to a second-tier football game. However, the jubilation was short-lived. By the season’s end, Norwich found themselves demoted to the Third Division, a bitter pill to swallow. It was bitter, especially because the relegation was determined by an agonizingly small goal average difference of 0.05. This tumultuous period highlighted the club’s highs and lows, showcasing their resilience and commitment to the game. The onset of the Second World War led to the suspension of the league, halting professional play until the 1946-47 season. Despite their lackluster performance during this season and the next, landing them in the 21st position, the club was forced to seek re-election to remain in the league. In 1948, Carrow Road witnessed a surge of 37,863 attendees for the match against Notts County, marking the stadium’s record attendance.

Beating First Division Clubs

Beating First Division Clubs
Though the club seemed to be on the cusp of promotion under manager Norman Low in the early 1950s, the return of Tom Parker as manager saw them plummet to the very bottom of the football league by the 1956-57 season. Beyond the field, financial storms loomed. With debts surpassing £20,000, the club’s very existence was at stake. We can read in Norwich City history that it took the intervention of a new board, headed by Geoffrey Watling, and an appeal fund championed by the then Lord Mayor of Norwich, Arthur South, to raise a sum equivalent to the debts and rescue the club. In recognition of their invaluable contributions, both Watling and South, who have since passed away, were commemorated by having stands at Carrow Road named in their honor, ensuring their legacies are forever etched in the annals of the club’s history. When Archie Macaulay took over managerial duties after the club’s reformation, he steered Norwich City to one of its most celebrated milestones.

During the 1958-59 FA Cup, despite being a Third Division team, Norwich impressively beat two top-tier teams, including a memorable 3-0 victory against Manchester United’s “Busby Babes”. Their journey to glory was halted in the semi-final after a replay match against Luton Town, a First Division side. Players like Terry Bly, with his seven-goal streak during the competition, and Ken Nethercott, who showed immense grit playing with a dislocated shoulder, were central to this achievement. These heroes and the famed “59 Cup Run” are immortalized in the club’s Hall of Fame. It’s worth noting that Norwich was only the third Third Division side to reach the FA Cup’s semi-final stage. Subsequently, in the 1959-60 season, they clinched promotion to the Second Division, finishing right behind Southampton.

Their First Trophy and Promotion to the First Division

Their First Trophy and Promotion to First Division
For the following dozen years, they solidified their presence in this division, with highlights including finishing fourth in 1961 and sixth in 1965. In a triumphant moment for the club in 1962, under the leadership of Ron Ashman, Norwich secured their first-ever trophy, outclassing Rochdale 4-0 over two matches to lift the League Cup. The crowning achievement came in the 1971-72 season with Ron Saunders at the helm. Norwich City was named champions of Division Two, marking its ascendancy to the pinnacle of English football for the first time. Norwich City marked their Wembley debut in 1973 when they narrowly lost the League Cup final to Tottenham Hotspur with a 1-0 scoreline. The subsequent year saw them demoted to the Second Division, prompting the departure of Saunders and bringing John Bond to the managerial helm. Norwich City managers history shows that Bond’s first season was fruitful, with Norwich reclaiming their First Division spot and another League Cup final appearance at Wembley. However, they fell 1-0 to Aston Villa. They solidified their position in England’s elite division for the next six campaigns, even recording their then-highest league finish, tenth, in the 1975-76 season. Bond’s era also witnessed infrastructural improvements with the construction of a new River End stand at Carrow Road. However, Bond’s departure in the 1980-81 season coincided with another relegation.

Fortunately, the Canaries swiftly soared back to the First Division after securing third place the next season. The mid-80s in Norwich City history was a period of highs and lows for Norwich. While the Main Stand was devastated by a fire in October 1984, the team showcased resilience on the field. Under Ken Brown’s leadership, they advanced to the Milk Cup final at Wembley in the 1984-85 season, defeating arch-rivals Ipswich Town en route.

Defeating German Giants Bayern Munich

Norwich City history - Defeating German Giants Bayern Munich
Triumph awaited them in the final, as they bested Sunderland 1-0. However, this jubilation was marred by both teams’ relegation to the Second Division. Furthermore, Norwich was barred from participating in European competitions despite qualifying for the UEFA Cup due to the Heysel Stadium tragedy’s repercussions on English clubs. Nonetheless, the Canaries bounced back, clinching the Second Division title in the 1985-86 season. Although they performed well enough in the First Division during 1988-89 to potentially qualify for the UEFA Cup, the ban on English clubs persisted. The club also showcased their cup prowess by advancing to the FA Cup semi-finals in both 1989 and 1992. In the debut season of the English Premier League (1992-93), Norwich City defied expectations. Preseason predictions had marked them for relegation, yet they dominated the league for a significant portion, even boasting an eight-point lead as Christmas approached. However, their momentum waned towards the end, and they settled for third place, trailing champions Manchester United and Aston Villa. Their capabilities were evident from the outset, as they notched a commendable 4-2 victory against Arsenal, a team many had pegged for the title. This performance surprised many, especially those who had anticipated a challenging season for Norwich. Their subsequent season saw Norwich make their UEFA Cup debut. They made a strong impression by overpowering Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem 3-0 in the initial round. But the defining moment in Norwich City history came in the subsequent round against German giants Bayern Munich. Against all odds, Norwich emerged triumphant, clinching the tie 3-2 on aggregate. Their 2-1 win in Munich was particularly monumental, as it marked them as the sole English squad to defeat Bayern Munich at the Olympic Stadium.

Mike Walker’s Departure

Mike Walker’s Departure
The Independent dubbed this victory “the zenith of Norwich City’s history,” while Four Four Two found their lead in Munich nearly unbelievable. Unfortunately, their European adventure was cut short by Italy’s Internazionale, who outplayed them 2-0 over two matches. Mike Walker’s exemplary leadership at Norwich didn’t go unnoticed, leading to his departure for Everton in January 1994. John Deehan, previously the first-team coach, was succeeding him, with Gary Megson, still an active player, as his deputy. Under Deehan, Norwich finished in a respectable 12th in the Premier League for the 1993-94 season. In the summer of 1994, Norwich City made headlines by transferring their promising 21-year-old forward, Chris Sutton, to Blackburn Rovers for a staggering £5 million, setting a new British record fee at the time. By the year’s end, Norwich was positioned seventh in the Premiership, hinting at a potential comeback to the UEFA Cup. However, the team’s trajectory took a sharp downturn after a critical injury sidelined their goalkeeper, Bryan Gunn. This setback in Norwich City history, coupled with a dismal run of just one victory in their subsequent 20 Premiership games, caused Norwich to tumble down to 20th place, culminating in their relegation to the English football’s second division. As the shadows of relegation loomed, Deehan chose to step down, paving the way for Megson to helm the team temporarily till the season’s end. In 1995, Norwich sought a fresh start by appointing Martin O’Neill, who was recognized for his impressive managerial feats with Wycombe Wanderers. But his tenure was short-lived, spanning only half a year. O’Neill’s departure was instigated by a disagreement with chairman Robert Chase, stemming from Chase’s reluctance to allocate substantial funds for team reinforcements. The aftershocks of O’Neill’s resignation saw Chase face mounting criticism from fans.

Robert Chase Resigns

Robert Chase Resigns
They contended that his decisions, particularly the recurrent sale of key players, were instrumental in the club’s relegation woes, leading to his eventual resignation amidst growing unrest. From 1992 to early 1995, Norwich City had offloaded a slew of pivotal offensive talents: Robert Fleck (£2.1M), Ruel Fox (£2.25M), Chris Sutton (£5M), Efan Ekoku (£0.9M), and Mark Robins (£1M). Almost four decades after his essential role in averting the club’s insolvency, Geoffrey Watling acquired the majority of shares from Chase. Following this, Gary Megson was named as Norwich’s interim manager, marking his second such appointment in less than a year. Though he saw out the season, Megson soon exited the club. This marked a stark contrast for Norwich, who, just four years prior, had secured a third-place finish in the Premiership and had achieved a historic UEFA Cup victory over Bayern Munich, only to find themselves languishing in 16th place in Division Two. In a significant shift in 1996, renowned English television chef Delia Smith and her spouse, Michael Wynn-Jones, became the predominant shareholders of Norwich City, purchasing most of the shares from Watling. Norwich City history says that the management reins were handed back to Mike Walker, but he couldn’t replicate the triumphs of his initial tenure. He was dismissed two seasons in, with Norwich middling in the Second Division. His replacement, Bruce Rioch, steered the club for two years but also departed in 2000, with the elusive promotion remaining unattained.

After Rioch, Bryan Hamilton took the managerial reins. However, his stint was brief, lasting just half a year. Departing with Norwich teetering in the Second Division’s 20th position, there were genuine concerns about a potential drop to English football’s third tier, a fate they hadn’t endured since the 1960s.

The Second Division Title Win

The Second Division Title Win
Nigel Worthington, previously Hamilton’s deputy, was elevated to the main managerial role. Under Worthington, Norwich’s journey was a rollercoaster of highs and lows, with stability seldom achieved. Nonetheless, he adeptly navigated the team away from relegation fears in his initial half-season. Remarkably, the subsequent season saw Norwich defy anticipations by reaching the 2002 play-off final. However, they faced heartbreak, succumbing to Birmingham City in a penalty shootout. As they commemorated a century of existence, 2002 was a momentous year for Norwich City. As part of the centennial festivities, the club instituted a Hall of Fame, designed to recognize and pay tribute to individuals — be it players, coaches, managers, board members, or executives — who had left an indelible mark on the club’s legacy. Initially, the club nominated 25 luminaries, and an additional 75 were selected through fan voting. Subsequently, in 2006, the supporters inducted another ten members into this illustrious circle. Following a year of building and strengthening, Worthington steered Norwich to clinch the Second Division title in the 2003-04 season, establishing a comfortable lead of eight points. This victory signified Norwich’s ascent to the Premiership, marking their return after a hiatus of nearly a decade.

However, the 2004-05 Premiership campaign was a struggle for the Canaries. Despite the challenges, a late-season resurgence saw the team amass 13 points from a possible 18. But, on the season’s climactic day, Norwich needed a victory to secure their spot in the top tier for the subsequent year. Norwich City history depicts that a devastating 6-0 loss to Fulham sealed their fate and sent them back to the second tier. Anticipations ran high as the 2005-06 season commenced, with many hoping for Norwich’s swift comeback to the Premiership.

Lackluster Performance Leading to Another Relegation

Lackluster Performance Leading to Another Relegation
Unfortunately, the club’s early performance was underwhelming, finding them floundering in 18th place in The Championship. This decline incited fan discontent with Worthington at the helm. In a notable transfer move, striker Dean Ashton was offloaded for a club-record sum of £7 million, roughly twice the amount paid for him a year prior. A sizable chunk of this fee was channeled towards acquiring Welsh forward Robert Earnshaw, who played a pivotal role in lifting Norwich to a respectable ninth-place finish. Yet, the subsequent transfer window saw limited activity from Worthington. A string of lackluster performances, relegating the team to 17th in the Championship, culminated in Worthington’s ousting. Martin Hunter briefly took over as interim manager, and soon after, ex-Norwich player Peter Grant departed West Ham United to assume managerial duties at Norwich. Under Grant’s management, Norwich slightly improved their league standing, finishing in the 16th spot. During the 2007 off-season in Norwich City history, a flurry of transfer activities saw nine new players join while ten, including standout Earnshaw, left the squad. Huckerby, one of the players, expressed his disappointment, accusing the club of offloading their top talent. The 2007-08 campaign began disappointingly, with Norwich registering just two victories by early October. This prompted Grant’s departure from the club, described as “mutual consent.” Subsequently, Glenn Roeder, previously with Newcastle United, was named the new manager. Roeder made significant roster changes, bringing in several younger players on loan. This strategy seemed effective as Norwich rose from the bottom of the league to a more secure mid-table position. However, following a subpar first half in the 2008-09 season, Roeder’s tenure was cut short in January 2009. In a bid to rejuvenate the team, Norwich appointed their iconic former goalkeeper, Bryan Gunn, as the manager.

From the Third Tier to the Top Tier With Paul Lambert

From the Third Tier to the Top Tier With Paul Lambert
But even his leadership couldn’t avert the team’s relegation to League One, a division they hadn’t played in since 1960. Starting their League One journey against Colchester United, Norwich, the favorites, experienced a staggering 1-7 loss — the most lopsided home defeat in their extensive history. This catastrophic result led to Gunn’s removal from his role just a week later. Irony intervened as Norwich chose Paul Lambert, the very manager who orchestrated their 7-1 humiliation with Colchester, as their new leader. Under Lambert’s guidance, the team underwent a transformation.

Not only did they achieve promotion back to The Championship as League One champions, but they also sustained an impressive 16-match unbeaten streak. In their subsequent season in The Championship, notable wins over regional rivals Ipswich Town set the tone for a campaign culminating in Norwich finishing second, marking their Premier League return after a six-year gap. Norwich concluded their initial Premier League return season in 12th position, but shortly after, Lambert stepped down from his managerial position. Chris Hughton was subsequently appointed for the 2012-13 season. Despite a challenging start under Hughton, the team managed a record Premier League unbeaten streak, ensuring a third straight year in the top tier. However, a notable blip that season was a 1-0 loss to Luton Town in the FA Cup, marking Norwich as the first top-flight team to be defeated by a non-league side in the competition in over two decades. In Hughton’s subsequent season, ahead of Norwich’s relegation to the Championship, he was replaced by ex-player Neil Adams. Adams’ leadership saw a lackluster first half of the 2014-15 campaign, prompting his resignation. Alex Neil, formerly with Hamilton Academical, was brought on board. His youthful energy