Norwich City

The Canaries of Carrow Road seek the right recipe

A fan’s guide – the club from early doors to today

Playing in distinctive yellow and green, Norwich City have won two League Cups and five second-tier titles. The first of these, in 1972, gained the Canaries promotion to the top flight for the first time since their formation 70 years before.

Swift returns to the Premier League are now commonplace – four were achieved between 2011 and 2021 – but staying with the elite has proved problematic since the 1980s.

Founded in 1902, Norwich were reformed after bankruptcy in 1917. The club have thrice been rescued from insolvency, first by Charles Watling, then twice in more modern times by his son, then club president Geoffrey. A stand at Carrow Road bears his name.

The club moved there in 1935 but had little to show for their efforts until the late 1950s. In 1958-59, Norwich became the first Third Division club to reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup when they beat Manchester United and Tottenham before going out to Luton. 

Club captain Ron Ashman, who made a record number of league appearances in yellow and green, then led Norwich to the Second Division. After winning the recently launched League Cup over Fourth Division Rochdale in 1962, Ashman was appointed player-manager – but the top flight remained elusive.

One of Ashman’s first signings was Indian-born goalkeeper Kevin Keelan, who went on to break Ashman’s record of appearances in all competitions. Keelan starred in Ron Saunders’ promotional side of 1971-72, and appeared in two League Cup finals at Wembley, the defeats of 1973 and 1975. 

Soon afterwards, 1966 World Cup hero Martin Peters enjoyed a five-year Indian summer at Carrow Road, as Norwich became a regular fixture in the top flight.

After a tense two-leg semi-final against bitter rivals Ipswich, settled by a goal from Steve Bruce, Norwich reached another League Cup final in 1985. With a team featuring goalkeeper Chris Woods and veterans Mick Channon and Asa Hartford, Norwich overcame Sunderland 1-0.

The following decade was the most successful in the club’s history. Consistent high placings in the top flight and two FA Cup semi-finals were achieved under Ken Brown, Dave Stringer and Mike Walker. While Brown was adept at finding talent such as Bruce, Mike Phelan and Dave Watson, Stringer brought through Chris Sutton and Ruel Fox. 

With Walker, Norwich put in a serious challenge for the inaugural Premier League in 1993, then became the first English club to win at Bayern in the subsequent UEFA Cup. Starting with an early volley by Jeremy Goss, revered as the finest goal in the club’s history, and finishing with inspired keeping from Bryan Gunn, Norwich caused John Motson to exort, ‘This is fantasy football!’ as they ripped up the formbook. After holding Bayern to 1-1 at Carrow Road, Norwich fell to two goals from Dennis Bergkamp against Internazionale.

Managerial and boardroom chaos overshadowed the mid-1990s until TV chef Delia Smith and husband Michael Wynn-Jones stepped in as major shareholders. Not even the return of Mike Walker could solve problems on the pitch, though. Hero of Munich Bryan Gunn tried his luck as coach in 2009, only to lose 7-1 to Colchester.

Winning manager that day, Paul Lambert, was immediately snapped up by Norwich. In two seasons, he led them back to the Championship then up to the Premier League.

Despite losing Lambert to Villa and the prolific Grant Holt to Wigan, Norwich enjoyed top-flight status under respected manager Chris Hughton, perhaps unwisely sacked in April 2014 after a poor run of form. The end result was relegation, reversed under Alex Neil in 2015, but not for long.

Stability came with little-known German coach Daniel Farke in 2017. Leading Borussia Dortmund reserves after a modest professional career, the young Westphalian started slowly but then achieved promotion in 2019 thanks to goals from Finnish international Teemu Pukki. Out of their depth in the top flight, losing ten games straight in 2020, Farke’s Norwich again bounced back in 2020-21, winning the Championship at a canter.

Ground Guide

The field of dreams – and the stands around it

After stints at Newmarket Road south-west of town and Rosary Road near the river, a ground aptly called The Nest, in 1935 Norwich built their own ground in Carrow Road behind the train station.

Built in record time, the ground was gradually roofed and equipped with floodlights. A record 44,000 were crammed in for the 1963 cup game with Leicester but capacity was reduced to an all-seater 27,000 after 1990.

Home fans gather behind The Barclay End, most vociferously in the ‘The Snakepit’ of Thorpe Corner. The River End is closest to the Wensum. Away fans are allocated an end section of the South or Jarrold Stand, nearest to The Barclay, the entrance near the Holiday Inn hotel. The press area and VIP suites are in the Geoffrey Watling City Stand.

getting there

Going to the ground – tips and timings

The ground is a short walk from the train station. Bear left, then either walk along the river or over Koblenz Avenue through a car park surrounded by large retail outlets.

The sat nav code for Carrow Road is NR1 1JE. The club recommends parking at Norfolk County Hall on Martineau Lane (NR1 2DW), a 10min signposted walk from the ground. A space is £6 and cannot be pre-booked. There are also 95 spaces at Norwich station car park (NR1 1EF), even closer to the ground, £7/day Sat-Sun & hols, £12/day Mon-Fri. 

getting in

Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much

For the Championship-winning season of 2018-19, Carrow Road was close to capacity most games. so availability is at a real premium whenever Norwich are in the top flight.  The club runs a membership scheme (£25/season), with priority given to those with a loyal purchase history pre-pandemic. General sale is seventh down the pecking order, ie highly unlikely for any league fixture. 

The club’s online service also has a Live Chat feature and there’s an info line on 01603 721 902 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm). The stadium ticket office (usual opening hours Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, non-match Sat 9am-2pm, from 9am match days) is by the Aviva Community Stand, the corner of the South Stand and the River End.

Seats are around £35 in the River End, £45 in the Jarrold/South Stand, with discounts for under-65s, under-18s and under-12s. Away fans pay £30, £25, £20 and £15 respectively.

what to buy

Shirts, kits, merchandise and gifts

The Carrow Road Store (usual opening times Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, Sat 9am-4pm, Sun 10am-4pm, match nights) is located where the Geoffrey Watling Stand and River End meet. There’s also the Fan Hub (Mon-Fri 9.30am-4.30pm, Sat 9.30am-5.30pm, Sun 10.30am-4.30pm) at Jarrold Interstore, 15-17 London Street in town.

Souvenirs related to the Canaries’ recent success include bottles of limited-edition Goin’ Up celebration gin and ‘We’re Back!’ T-shirts showing the whole winning squad. You can also pick up a scale model of Carrow Road, home and away retro tops from the memorable 86-87 campaign and a copy of The Place is Going Bananas, the official history of Norwich City.

stadium tours

Explore the ground inside and out

The club’s stadium tours (£10/£5 under-17s) should be back and running in 2021-22, taking place early evening and daytimes during school holidays.

Where to Drink

Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors

On the other side of the rail tracks from the station, two excellent pubs usually welcome sensible away fans. On Thorpe Road, the Coach and Horses was fully booked for all of England’s Euro 2020 games, its three flat-screen TVs showing the action. Discounted jugs of local Chalk Hill Brewery ales, and bowls of meaty and vegan chilli, get supped and scarfed up on match days. David and Rosemary have been taking care of the place for the last 30 years, doing justice to a pub in business for the last two centuries.

Further down Thorpe Road, the Fat Cat and Canary makes no secret of its affinities, a giant mural of Norwich manager Daniel Farke brightening up the side of the building. Inside, a chalkboard lists which ales are on that day, many from the local Fat Cat brewery, and there’s just enough space for a stage. There’s plenty of room for outdoor seating, too.

Nearer the ground, by the river, The Queen of Iceni is a large Wetherspoons with a waterside terrace. Alongside the stadium, the lobby bar at the Holiday Inn usually has a match-day carvery, home-made burgers and Beck’s, Boddingtons and Guinness on draught.

Delia Smith’s Yellows by the Stadium Store (Tue-Sat noon-10pm) is a local take on a US-style diner, with pre-match burger-and-beer deals, when the tables are cleared and action moves to the far end. Top-notch burgers, ribs and chunky fries are served by an expertly trained staff.

Nearby Delia’s Restaurant & Bar (Fri, Sat & nights only) is the high-end outlet of the most famous chef in football. Diners may go for the £40/head three-course option, with canapés to nibble on and coffee to finish.