My Grounds

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Norwich City - Carrow Road

Norwich City FC
Carrow Road

01603 760760

Groundhop: 2
Date: 28th April 2007
Norwich City 0-1 Southampton

Norwich City FC - History

Norwich City were founded in 1902, initially joining the Norfolk & Suffolk League before joining the Southern League in 1905. In 1907, the club changed colours from blue and white to yellow and green after the chairman - for reasons unknown (although there are dozens of rumours about the possible reason) - decided the club would be called "the Canaries" rather than "the Citizens" from that point on. 

After going on hiatus during World War 1, Norwich entered the Third Division in 1920, where they stayed until winning promotion to the Second Division in the 1933/34 season. In 1935, Norwich moved to their current home of Carrow Road, with their previous home The Nest being deemed too small and unsafe for the club's growing crowds. The inaugural game, held against West Ham United on 31st August 1935, ended in a 4-3 victory for the Canaries in front of a then-record attendance of 29,779.

The Canaries were relegated back to the Third Division at the end of the 1938/39 season, before going on hiatus again until the 1946/47 season due to the outbreak of World War 2. Poor results in this season and the next meant the club had to apply for re-election to the league, a situation which was repeated in the 1956/57 season when Norwich finished bottom of the Football League.

Two seasons later, Norwich reached the FA Cup semi-finals as a Third Division side, knocking out Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United, before losing to eventual runners-up Luton Town. The following season saw Norwich earn promotion back to the Second Division, which was followed by a fourth-place finish in the 1960/61 season.

In 1962, Norwich won their first major silverware, beating Rochdale 4-0 on aggregate in the League Cup final. This was followed by several strong finishes in the Second Division, but promotion to the top tier didn't come for the first time until the 1971/72 season, when Ron Saunders led the team to the title fashion. This was then followed by a first appearance at Wembley in 1973, losing the League Cup final to Tottenham Hotspur.

Norwich were relegated back to the Second Division the following season, but John Bond led them to a quick return to the First Division in the 1974/75 season. Norwich once again appeared at Wembley in this season in the League Cup final, this time losing to Aston Villa.

When John Bond left for Manchester City in the 1980/81 season, relegation back to the Second Division soon followed, but once again Norwich made an immediate return to the First Division the following season. 

In 1984/85, Norwich once again appeared at Wembley in the League Cup final, this time beating Sunderland 1-0 to win the trophy for a second time. However, the club were relegated back to the Second Division in the same season, making Norwich the first team in English football history to win a major trophy and suffer relegation in the same season (this would not be matched for another 26 years, when Birmingham City accomplished the same feat).

As before, Norwich made an immediate return to the First Division in 1985/86, which then led to a club-record nine consecutive season in the top division of English football. High league placings in 1986/87 and 1988/89 would have seen Norwich compete in Europe for the first time, were it not for the ban on English clubs after the Heysel disaster. In this period before the beginning of the Premier League, Norwich also reached the FA Cup semi-finals in 1989 and 1992.

In the 1992/93 season - the inaugural Premier League season - Norwich had perhaps their greatest ever season, pushing Manchester United and Aston Villa all the way in a compelling title race before eventually finished 3rd, the highest league finish in the club's history. This finish meant that Norwich could finally compete in Europe for the first  - and, currently, only - time, defeating Bayern Munich 2-1 on aggregate in the second round of the UEFA Cup to become the first British team to defeat Bayern Munich at the Olympic Stadium (also known as the Olympiastadion in Germany). Norwich were then knocked out in the third round by Inter Milan, but it had been a memorable run regardless.

In January 1994, Mike Walker (the manager who had been in the charge for the historical 1992/93 season) left for Everton, and Norwich were relegated to Division 1 in the 1994/95 season after a run of just 1 win in the final 20 games saw the club fall from 7th to 20th in the table.

Other than an ownership change shortly after this relegation - with Robert Chase making way for Geoffrey Watling (after significant protests against Chase), who then sold his shares to current owners Delia Smith and Michael Wynn-Jones - little of note occurred for the next few years, other than the appointment of Nigel Worthington as manager in 2000. In the 2001/02 season, Worthington led Norwich to the Division 1 play-off final, where they lost on penalties to Birmingham City at the Millennium Stadium. 

In the 2003/04 season, Worthington led Norwich to a Premier League return in a season in which Norwich topped the league from an East Anglian Derby at Portman Road in late-December 2003 and stayed there for the rest of the season. However, the Premier League return was less than successful, with Norwich winning just 7 games in the 2004/05 season (all of which were at home) and falling to a 6-0 defeat at Fulham on the final day to confirm relegation.

The seasons following this relegation saw Norwich slowly and steadily regress, with relegation to League 1 at the end of the 2008/09 season coming to the surprise of nobody involved, having followed poor seasons under Peter Grant and Glenn Roeder. The League 1 campaign also started in disastrous fashion, with Norwich suffering a 7-1 defeat at home to Colchester United, with Norwich manager Bryan Gunn promptly sacked and - in the greatest masterstroke the current board have pulled off - replaced by Colchester's Paul Lambert.

Under Paul Lambert, Norwich romped their way to the League 1 title, which was followed up by an unprecedented - but much deserved - promotion back to the Premier League at the end of the 2010/11 season; this meant Norwich became the first club since Manchester City - a whole decade earlier - to secure back-to-back promotions from League 1 to the Premier League.

The 2011/12 season in the Premier League was very much a successful return to the Premier League for Norwich, finishing 12th and comfortably clear of relegation. However, Paul Lambert resigned a month after the season finished to take over at Aston Villa, after which Norwich opted to appoint Chris Hughton.

The first season under Chris Hughton saw the style of football change dramatically from Paul Lambert's free-flowing, attacking football to a much more pragmatic style. Results were poor at first, but then the club went on a record 9-game unbeaten run in the Premier League. Back-to-back wins against West Bromwich Albion and Manchester City in the final two league games saw Norwich comfortably survive, finishing the season in 11th place. However, a disastrous season in 2013/14 saw Norwich drop back into the Championship, with Neil Adams taking charge for the final five games of the season after Chris Hughton's sacking.

2014/15 started well for Neil Adams' side, but results soon dried up and, after a dismal FA Cup defeat against Preston North End, Adams resigned and was replaced by the then-unknown Alex Neil. Under Alex Neil, Norwich went on a sensational run, losing just three games from January to the end of the season to climb from 11th to 3rd, securing a play-off spot and a tie against rivals Ipswich Town, which Norwich comfortably won. Norwich then won promotion back to the Premier League at the first attempt, beating Middlesbrough 2-0 at Wembley in the play-off final.

However, the following season in the Premier League was another of struggle, and Norwich were relegated back to the Championship as quickly as they had left it. The 2016/17 season started well, but by November the cracks were starting to show and pressure continued to grow on Alex Neil, before he was eventually sacked in March and replaced by Alan Irvine on an interim basis to the end of the season. Norwich finished the season in 8th place.

Before the start of the current season (2017/18), Daniel Farke was appointed as manager, becoming the first non-British manager in Norwich City history and, so far, has had a mixed season in charge; an awful start was followed by an unbeaten run of 8 games (with just two goals conceded), which has since been followed by three consecutive defeats since losing to Arsenal in the League Cup.

My Visits

I've paid many, many visits to Carrow Road over the years - having been a season ticket holder since the 2007/08 season - but my first visit didn't come until the last home game of the 2006/07 season. Looking back on it, this seems strange to me as I remember being encouraged to support Norwich ever since the 2003/04 season, so why it took quite so long to visit I do not know (I can only assume money issues made it difficult for my dad to take me and my sister at the time, and that this situation only changed near the end of the 2006/07 season (by which point I was 8 years old).

In any case, my first visit came at the end of the 2006/07 season, and I honestly remember little about the visit, other than the fact that we were sat right near the away fans and that Leon Best scored the only goal of the game for Southampton. Since then, I've seen countless games at Carrow Road and seen numerous highs (two promotions, and the play-off semi-final victory over Ipswich Town leading to the third) and numerous lows (three relegations, plus the 7-1 defeat to Colchester United (although I think we left at 4-1)).

The Ground

Obviously this is going to be extremely biased, but I think Carrow Road is an excellent ground which, while a lot smaller than many in the Premier League and Championship, fits in perfectly well at these levels; this is undoubtedly helped by the fact that the ground is almost always full. The only complaint I would have is that the City stand (the smallest, and oldest, of the four stands at Carrow Road) could easily be expanded with a second tier to increase the capacity of the ground: there's definitely the support base to justify an expansion, but from a financial perspective it's obviously impractical.

The ground has an overall capacity of 27,244 and is an all-seater. The all-time record attendance is 43,984 for an FA Cup tie against Leicester City in 1963. Since becoming an all-seater stadium, the record attendance is 27,137 for a Premier League match against Newcastle United in 2016. 

The ground consists of four stands: the Regency Security Stand (which is where I sit, and is still known to many people as "the River End"), the City Stand, the Barclay and the South Stand (which was for many years called "the Jarrold Stand" for sponsorship reasons).


Considering the sheer amount of times I've gone to Carrow Road (especially since properly starting groundhopping), it's somewhat surprising that I've never taken any pictures of the ground. However, a return home from University over the festive period should give me at least one visit to Carrow Road, in which I will take a few photos to post on here.

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