Another MFW regular commenter who responded to the offer of a guest blog was Jim Davies, and he’s delivered us a touching tale of family and his love for Norwich City FC. Take it away, Jim…
Football has been a lifelong passion for me. Fortunately, I have an understanding wife, who is quite keen in her own right.
My love (of football, I hadn’t met my wife then) began when I was six or seven years old, and my father used to take me to watch Cromer Town play at Cabell Park. He died in a fishing accident just before my eighth birthday, so the trips to Cromer ceased, though I still loved kicking a ball around at home.
When I was twelve, my Uncle Walter took me to Carrow Road while I was on holiday at Little Plumstead with him and my cousins. Johnny Gavin scored with a diving header that day. I have no memory of the opponents, or the final score, though I think City won. I was, at that point, a confirmed Canaries fan.
I used to travel from Cromer to home games, either by sneakily using my school Cromer to North Walsham rail season ticket to do the whole journey to Norwich, or by paying half a crown (twelve and a half pence, for you youngsters) to come up with Green and Grey Coaches.
The coaches all parked along Riverside in those days, nose in towards the river and the cargo ships that delivered coal and timber along there. You always hoped the handbrake was well maintained.
I saw most of the 1959 cup run, apart from the semi-final replay, which was on a Wednesday afternoon at White Hart Lane when Luton Town finally broke our hearts.
Apart from the Cup run, I don’t remember too much detail of other games, though I loved to watch the way Jimmy Hill played and the way he would slip a pass inside the full-back for Errol Crossan to run on to. How quick was Errol? (If Martin P wants to do a feature on Canadians who have played for City, it’s going to be a shortlist!)
After I left school, I played for Cromer Reserves for a season, but then went off to London to radio school, before joining the Merchant Navy, so although still a keen fan City games were few and far between.
Having completed my qualifications, I was back in Cromer for a few months, before I got my first ship. It was during this time that I met the young lady who I was to marry. She had only moved to Cromer a couple of years previously, having been born in Scotland, but lived in Northumberland from the age of nine.
She, I’m glad to say, liked football, although she supported Newcastle until I re-educated her and converted her into a Norwich fan.
I decided I liked the idea of a settled life more than slogging backwards and forwards between the Persian Gulf and Sicily, which was what my last ship was doing.
We settled in Harlow, so my trips to the Carra weren’t too frequent, although I could get to some mid-week games in London without too much trouble.
We were able to get Anglia TV, so we could follow City on a Sunday afternoon, with the excellent Gerry Harrison commentating. Both of my children were born in Harlow, and my son was proud to be the only Canary supporter at his school, amongst all the Spurs, Arsenal and West Ham fans. The other kids even nicknamed him “Norwich”.
In 1978, I got a promotion and the company moved to Norwich. I couldn’t believe my luck! We lived in Hellesdon, though I’ve since moved to Taverham.
I was then able to become a regular at home games, and got a season ticket for the River End. I adapted a milk crate so that my son could stand with me, and eventually a second one for my daughter.
By the time the seats were installed, my son was old enough to sit in a different part of the stand with his mates, who he also travelled to away games with. He and I both still have our seats in the River End, on the same row, but at opposite ends of the block.
My daughter gave up coming to games in her teenage years, which may have had something to do with a certain young man from Coventry who was stationed here in the RAF. I’m happy to say that he has been converted too, and now has a season ticket in the South Stand. My daughter still comes to games when she can blag a ticket.
My son, as well as being a fan and season ticket holder, is also a volunteer coach with the Community Sports Foundation, coaching the disabilities group, and has taken a group representing the south-east to the Special Olympics in Sheffield a couple of years ago. He also received a Community Heroes award from the club, with a presentation on the pitch before a home game, much to my surprise, as he hadn’t told me he was getting it.
The addiction has carried on to the next generation. My son’s daughter and son both have season tickets in the Lower Barclay, and my daughter’s son has one in the South Stand with his father. He studied at UEA to become a physiotherapist, and after qualifying worked part-time as a physio with the academy teams, although he has subsequently gone full time in a private company.
His sister doesn’t show any inclination to want to come to Carrow Road, though in her primary school she captained the school football team. There must be something there to develop!
My wife also has a season ticket, and sits in the corner in-fill, above the disabled stand. She doesn’t like the River End, as the ladies’ toilets are not too great, and there’s always a queue.
She sits with my mate’s partner (my mate Pete sits next to me) and has also got acquainted with another lady who sits next to her. She also doesn’t like to sit next to me because I shout!
Norwich City has been a big part of my life, and that of most of my family.
I’m missing the friendship and banter that goes with seeing people I’ve known for years, in a casual sense, because we’ve all hung on to our same seats in the River End. Richard, Charley, Hughie, Terry.
I hope to see you again before too long.