As I write this I have in my clutches the new Tales From The City volume 3, and I know it’s going to be as good as the previous two.
I’ve been to each of Mick Dennis’s book launches and they haven’t failed to entertain; who doesn’t want to hear tales of love for Norwich city, or hear of the writer’s connection with the club and how it has a place in their heart.
I can’t imagine anyone not falling head over heels for any other place other than Norwich – a fine city.
With a welcome drink (champagne darling?) and book in hand I lined up in true British style to meet some of the contributors to the third volume. While I duly had my book autographed, other fans had brought programmes to be signed or other items of memorabilia they were happy to share.
The signing session introduced us to some of our guests for the evening. In order…the ‘King of Spain’ Simon Lappin, Disco Dale Gordon, the great Terry Alcock, legendary manager Ken Brown, Mick Dennis (editor), Tim McWilliam – commentator for the visually impaired – and Tom Smith, our youngest director.
Though not all of them would take to the stage we eagerly took to our seats to listen to the host, Radio Norfolk presenter Chris Goreham.
Terry Alcock was first up recalling in remarkable detail his 59ers cup run, and how tough the game was back then – like playing 75 mins with a broken leg and no substitutes on the bench. How vastly different it was from the modern game of today; his gentlemanly conduct a contrast from the tough game that was played in that era, with the heavy leather boots and ball. It was truly astounding that he scored over 100 goals for City – with seven in one week!
The effervescent Ken Brown still with a twinkle in his eye and with his contagious smile he told us of his time managing Norwich, of his friendship of John Bond and how it was John whose persuasion brought him here in the first place. Although, in fact, it wasn’t his first time here as we heard Ken had been evacuated here during the war.
Ken was manager for more games than anyone else in Norwich’s history and it was he who took us to Wembley to win the Milk cup in 1985 – and we all know how it feels to win at Wembley (old or new). It was clear how much he loved his career at Norwich and, was indeed, one of our most successful managers.
Strutting across the stage donning a Zara blue jacket/waistcoat combo, designer ripped jeans and shoes with no socks, I’m sure the next guest needs no introduction. As flashy in style as on the dance floor ‘Disco’ Dale charmed us and told us of a different era of football; sneaking off on nights out, brandy in the kit bag and how being a local lad he felt inferior from ‘big signings’ having moved up the ranks through the club.
He first played for the club at only 8 years old and was (eventually) forgiven for being an Ipswich fan, but more importantly was player of the season in 1989 and inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002.
Of course it wouldn’t be fitting not to be joined by royalty on such a great night and a warm welcome was given to the real ‘King of Spain’. Playing seven seasons full of peaks and troughs, being out of favour with Glen Roeder but championed by Paul Lambert, Simon spoke eloquently of the comradery between teammates and of buying into Paul Lambert ‘ethos’ who he said had them “eating out of his hand”. The rise from League One to Premier League was relived and it was clear those back to back promotions were achieved because everyone in that team believed. Simon even got a rendition of his very own chant!
A heartfelt moment came from Mick when he told of his friendship with Duncan Forbes, of his time travelling with him on the team coach as a young reporter and how it felt important to include him in the book. Duncan’s wife Jeanette came up and was gracious about how the fans still have so much affection for her husband and seemed genuinely moved when presented with the infamous picture of Duncan’s physical form on Mousehold Heath – what a man!
Tim Macwilliam, fan and commentator, told us of his first love for a club in blue and white, (don’t be too shocked) and how he changed allegiance and fell for the Green and Yellows after moving to the city and watching them regularly.
Organiser of Proud Canaries – City’s LGBT fans’ group – Di Cunningham told of how she had flirted with football before being drawn into being a Norwich fan, and how she loves the adventures and dramas that always surround the club (we share that emotion Di) whether they be good or bad.
The night ended with a Q and A session from the audience; Terry showing us his impressive silverware, including the very first Barry Butler Trophy for being player of the season, but we were spared some Disco Dale dance moves due to a hip replacement. Instead led the floor with his repertoire of wit.
If you’ve not been to one of these nights, it’s a must, and I’m sure TFTC4 will soon be a thing (please Mick, I’m addicted!).
Hopefully I’ve whetted your appetite. I suggest you buy the book: Tales from The City 3 (buy volumes one and two if you don’t already have them). You won’t be disappointed.
The event was also broadcast live on the internet and it genuinely is a thing of pride to have such a loyal fan base to make events like this a success.
No wonder ex-players and managers return and lovingly tell us their tales; Norwich finds a way of endearing itself to everyone, players and fans alike. Yet still not lose sight of the role we, the fans, play in all of this. Without us there wouldn’t be a football club… let alone a book or three!
Well done all.