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Canaries Promotion Special

The highs and lows of City’s rich past

May 10, 2004

WITH 15 minutes of the game left, nippy inside-left Jimmy Shields fastened on to left winger Tommy Newell's cross.

The Canaries in 1905/06.
The Canaries in 1905/06.

He smashed the ball into the back of the net and Norwich City, playing in their very first game of football, had equalised.

James Pratt Addison Shields had the privilege of scoring City's first-ever goal.

It happened on Saturday, September 6, 1902, when Harwich & Parkeston provided the opposition in a friendly watched by 2,000 people at the ground on Newmarket Road.

Jimmy's playing days were cut short by injury. He made only four other appearances, scoring four times.

For several years he and his wife ran a tobacconist and cigar merchants shop in Magdalen Street, Norwich, before he moved to Ipswich, where he became a park attendant. He died in 1947.

The top soccer team in Norwich for many seasons had been the Church of England side, CEYMS, until two former members, Bob Webster and Joe Nutchey, called a meeting on June 17, 1902, to try to get a rival Norwich City club up and running.

The club joined the Norfolk & Suffolk League, kitted themselves out in blue and white shirts and white knickers and leased the council-owned Newmarket Road ground.

They were known as the Citizens. A scandal over payments to players followed and they turned professional, joining the Southern League in 1905.

At the end of the 1907/8 season they moved to The Nest, a quaint little ground on the site of filled-in chalk workings in Rosary Road.

The Citizens disappeared and the Canaries came flying in with new yellow and green colours.

The club was wound up with debts of £3,000 in 1917, but re-formed in 1919.

City joined the Football League in 1920 and won the Division Three South championship in 1934 to earn promotion to Division Two.

Russell Colman, Lord Lieutenant of Norwich and newly-appointed club president, performs the opening ceremony at Carrow Road back on August 31, 1935.
Russell Colman, Lord Lieutenant of Norwich and newly-appointed club president, performs the opening ceremony at Carrow Road back on August 31, 1935.

As the crowds increased, the FA declared The Nest was not safe and in 1935 the club moved to Carrow Road — headquarters of the Boulton & Paul Sports Club. Work on building the new stadium started at 3.45am on June 11 and by August 31 — just 82 days later — it was finished.

Delighted officials declared it the “Eighth Wonder of the World”.

Russell Colman, Lord Lieutenant of Norwich and newly-appointed club president, untied the yellow and green ribbons, signalling that the Canaries had arrived at Carrow Road.

In their first game at their new home, a crowd of 29,779 roared Norwich on to a thrilling 4-3 victory over West Ham in Division Two. The ground's first-ever goal came from City captain Doug Lochhead, a tough guy from Glasgow who served as captain, scout, caretaker and then full-time manager.

The Canaries were flying high, but relegation in the last full season before the second world war meant a grim struggle in the first two seasons after hostilities ceased, when they had to seek re-election.

City prospered in the early 50s in Division Three South and turfed giants Liverpool and Arsenal out of the FA Cup during Norman Low’s reign as manager, but declining fortunes and gates brought a financial crisis in 1957 that threatened the club’s future.

A public appeal which raised £20,000, combined with the arrival of new chairman Geoffrey Watling and new manager Archie Macaulay, revived the Canaries’ fortunes and their FA Cup giant-killing run in 1959, in which they beat Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, shook the football world.
Promotion to Division Two followed in 1960 for Macaulay’s men — since when City have never been out of the top two divisions.

Ron Saunders took them into top-flight football for the first time in 1972 as Division Two champions, and they reached Wembley for the first time a year later, losing 1-0 to Tottenham in the League Cup final.

Despite relegation in 1974, 1981 and 1985, City returned to Division One at the first attempt each time, first under John Bond — who also took them to Wembley as League Cup finalists in 1975 — then twice under Ken Brown.

It was under Brown’s leadership that City won the Milk Cup at Wembley in 1985, beating Sunderland 1-0, and they reached new heights under Dave Stringer and later Mike Walker, whose team knocked Vitesse Arnhem and Bayern Munich out of the UEFA Cup in 1993. Relegation in 1995 sentenced the Canaries to nine long years out of the Premiership.

The appointment of Nigel Worthington as manager in 2001 steadily revived the club’s fortunes, and they narrowly failed to return to the Premiership in 2002 when they lost the Division One play-off final to Birmingham on penalties at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff after a 1-1 draw.

But it has taken only two more years for Worthington’s men to make that dream into reality.

(With thanks to Dick Middleton and Paul Standley, authors of Norwich City: A Portrait In Old Picture Postcards.)

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