Unfortunates who don’t love Norwich City missed a chance when our chairman went on national television in jeans and a checked shirt.
Ed Balls and a cowboy outfit? It was a joke that many could have enjoyed. Or there could have been satirical references to big checks.
I can’t promise (or threaten?) he’ll be wearing those skin-tight denims and that button-straining shirt again, but Ed “Glitter” Balls will be appearing in Norwich on Sunday (9 Oct).
There’s no City match at the weekend, but there is a big fixture at Carrow Road on Sunday (9 Oct): the launch of Tales From The City volume 2. And chairman Ed will be among those appearing at the event — which will be a sort of Norwich City chat show.
Grant Holt, who contributed to TFTC1 and starred in its launch event, is coming back to join in the TFTC2 fun on stage.
I almost said, “to partner Ed”!
The former Shadow Chancellor donned the denim for Strictly Come Dancing and had more success with the first public vote than he did in the Morley and Outwood constituency last May.
The result of the next Strictly vote will be televised on Sunday at about the time he takes the stage at Carrow Road.
The TV show is recorded. The Norwich show is completely live — and aims to be as good as the hugely enjoyable launch of TFTC1 a year ago.
I hope many of you know about TFTC1: a collection of original writing about the club we care about.
I edited volume one and when I agreed to put together another collection of ‘tales’ this year (just in time for Christmas again!) I was worried that it might be my “difficult second album”. How could I follow TFTC1?
But I am proud of volume 2. It is more of the same, but it’s different too.
It introduces some folk about whom younger readers might not know. But the writers I’ve chosen were eye witnesses to momentous times which shaped our club – or they are folk who actually helped shape it.
Some exclusive extracts will appear in the Pink Un section of the Evening News on Saturday. They include Ruel Fox on experiencing racism from his Norwich teammates and Robert Fleck writing about setting out to hurt an opponent.
Yep, there’s some difficult topics tackled in TFTC2. But there’s plenty of unabashed wallowing in great NCFC football too.
To whet your appetite, here is a taste of what Craig Fleming says in his chapter, which is about winning the Football League in 2004.
We clinched promotion with weeks to spare. And, once we knew we were going up into the Premier League, we were ready to say, ‘That’s it. Season finished’. It had been a long slog, we were a really tight-knit group of players and, to be honest, we drank Norwich dry for about two days solid.
We could quite easily have just taken the promotion and not bothered with the title. But Nigel Worthington said to us, ‘Not many footballers finish their careers having won a title. You might only get one chance in life to win a medal. We have this chance now. So we are not going to take our foot off the gas. We are going to train even harder. We are going to win the league.’ I will always be in Nigel’s debt because he said that. Without it, I wouldn’t have my winner’s medal. His attitude and that pep talk were the final two elements of the perfect storm.
The title was still up for grabs when we reached the penultimate game: a Tuesday night match at Sunderland, who had just missed out on automatic promotion.
They got a goal after 44 minutes and all hell broke out in our dressing room at half time. Nigel was screaming, ‘That’s not good enough!’ Hucks kicked off with Nigel. Iwan and Leon McKenzie had an argument about something. Nigel kicked the metal skip, thinking it would be empty and light, but it was full of kit and we all thought he had broken his foot. It was absolute bedlam.
But that shows what we were like, how determined we were and what Nigel had created. Then, in the second half the cheers from our fans at the away end told us something was going on and when we came off at the end, we learned that West Brom, our only rivals for the title, had lost heavily at Stoke. We were champions.
I’d had some great times as a footballer, particularly the cup runs at Oldham, and we’d also had a great escape at Oldham, winning the last three games to stay up, but that night at Sunderland was the best feeling I had as a player. It doesn’t matter what league you are in, winning it is incredible. It’s a season’s work. So winning the Football League was absolutely the best footballing thing I did. It was just amazing. The club had waited so long for it and a few of us players had been through the mill a bit. But we were the champions.
There was one game left though: away to Crewe. I scored and did a belly-flop dive in front of our fans but again someone else nicked the headlines. It was Iwan’s last game and he scored goals 95 and 96 for Norwich. The first was an absolute beauty. The second was a twice-taken penalty.
We had been drinking — of course we had; we’d flown back from Sunderland the previous Tuesday and gone straight out and partied —but we played the best football we had played all season at Crewe. They were a footballing team but we passed them to death. It was a special, surreal feeling: no pressure at all, exhilarated by what we’d already achieved, just playing total football.
The final table showed us on 94 points from 46 games with a positive goal difference of 40. Second-placed West Brom had eight points fewer. Sunderland finished third with 79 points. We had blitzed it.
The full list of TFTC2 writers is:
Ed Balls (baker, dancer and former cabinet minister).
Kevin Bond (joined Norwich as an apprentice when his father, John, became manager in 1974. By the time he left in 1981, he had been player of the season, scored 14 goals in 161 appearances and established him self as a top defender.)
Karen Buchanan (invented, launched and edited FourFourTwo magazine, was a reporter, producer and presenter for BBC Radio Norfolk for several years and co-wrote Iwan Roberts’ best-selling All I Want For Christmas.)
Adam Drury (captained the team to the Football League title, stayed with the club as it slid down to League One, and was still there throughout the climb back up to the Premier League).
Darren Eadie (made his Norwich debut in a European tie and made 204 appearances. Now a Mustard TV regular.)
Robert Fleck (leading scorer for four consecutive seasons and player of the year in 1992. Made more than 250 appearances and scored 84 times.)
Craig Fleming (spent ten years at Norwich and made almost 400 appearances. In one spell, he didn’t miss a match for two seasons.)
Ruel Fox (part of City’s best ever team, which finished third in the Premier League and had a barnstorming European campaign.)
Malcolm Robertson (now a familiar face on ITV Anglia, was Norwich City’s first press officer — at the height of turmoil over chairman Robert Chase.)
Keith Skipper (reported on Norwich City for the Eastern Daily Press and for Radio Norfolk before becoming an author, broadcaster and entertainer. He
was made an MBE for championing the Norfolk dialect.)
Dave Stringer (one of our own. He has lived all his life in Norfolk — and gave all but four years of his entire playing, coaching and management career to Norwich City.)
Some of the writers will be on stage on Sunday, along with some special guests and a performance of a new song by City fan and YouTube star Jon Rogers.
You can get tickets for the launch from the club’s ticket office, or from the Delia’s Canary Catering website (look in ‘Events’). Come on. Let’s be having you.