In the latest of our series of MFW guest blogs, David Wild has been handed the reins and tells us of his formative years at Carrow Road, and the heady days of away fans in the old Barclay…
The memory of my first Norwich City game starts with a crossbar seat on my dad’s bicycle, and the journey from Felmingham to North Walsham train station begins.
My father, bless him, did this for several years to get to and from his many sporting activities. And that was how the 1970s came to life for me.
Once on the train, it was a slow journey to Norwich station, then a walk along Riverside Road, which people see now as a stroll by the many restaurants and bars, but which was then home to a tyre fitting garage.
It’s strange to think how changes like this have changed our way of life many times over.
Once I can remember being stuck in the middle of the away supporters from West Ham as we walked to the game, my yellow and green scarf boldly blowing in the breeze and my dad saying, “keep tight to me son, keep walking”. That I did and kept in one piece.
Once at the ground, we headed up into the Barclay via the many concrete steps and the grass slope. At the top, we sometimes bumped into my uncle who was a policeman. We’d chat for a bit then move through the crowd to push our way to the pitch side barrier.
As usual, my place would be legs dangling through the barrier, with my dad standing behind me in case there was a crowd rush from the back of the stand. That happened mainly when we scored, which in those days was every home game. The roar and noise levels were unbelievable.
I wish sometimes that noise was replicated now, and the away fans were in closer proximity than they are today. For some games we would actually be in the end block of the Barclay – the one that housed the away fans – and it was thrilling to push our way to the front and know that behind us were only away fans, with the odd City supporter in the front with me and my dad.
There was a time when a Leeds United fan wanted to block my view, but Dad just held his ground saying, “that’s my boy sitting there, move over, mate.”
They were great times in the Barclay. Dad still attends to this day, has his own membership and still loves his team.
Norwich had a great team in my early days, with the likes of Kevin Keelan, aka The Cat, as our number one. The back four was Geoff Butler, Dave Stringer, Duncan Forbes, and Clive Payne and the midfield – full of excitement and hard-fought passion – was Max Briggs, Trevor Howard, Doug Livermore and Colin Suggett.
The forwards were hungry and ruthless. David Cross was deadly, Peter Silvester was tidy, Phil Boyer came into the fold and then Ted MacDougal came along to join the party.
Also, there was Ian Mellor, Jim Blair and Paul Cheesley, and others came in like Graham Paddon, Colin Prophett, Billy Steele, who I admired as a player, and Stevie Grapes. The list goes on – recalling the players of 1973/74 reminded me just how well my team played the game of football.
Ron Saunders and, then, John Bond managed a group of players with not only passion but with a determination to do well. The players clearly enjoyed the hard graft of training and as I began to follow this team, I knew it was for keeps.
My yellow and green journey had well and truly begun, and all starting from the crossbar of my dad’s bike. Great times have followed me and the usual bad days, but all in all a great team to support and follow.
I remember many games and players who came to Carrow Road, who gained experience and confidence while wearing the yellow and green, and the crowds would sing their names loudly every time they stepped on the pitch. But the games I truly loved, as most Canary fans do, were those when we took on our dear neighbours from down the A140.
Unusually as it was at times, a few players swapped their Blue and White for Yellow and Green; among them, Peter Morris was a great buy, as was Johnny Miller. Strangely enough, these two both ended up at Mansfield Town in 1976.
Later on I have fond memories of Clive Woods doing his thing at Carrow Road in the 1979/80 season but by this time my days of riding the crossbar of my dad’s bicycle had ended. I made my way to Carrow Road via my own pedal power!