It is one of England’s largest cities and home to two professional football clubs but neither Bristol City nor their city neighbours, Rovers have played in the Premier League. The closest Saturday’s opponents have come was a play-off final defeat in 2008.
Norwich’s first visit meeting with Bristol City was at Ashton Gate way back in the winter of 1909 – a 2-0 defeat in the third round of the FA Cup. It was a doubly disappointing result after Norwich had produced the shock of the second round by beating the mighty Liverpool, but not a surprising one as Bristol City were, at the time, a first Division club and the Canaries a few rungs down the football pyramid.
Bristol’s pedigree as a top side was evident that season as they went on to reach the FA Cup final – their only final appearance to date – where they narrowly lost 1-0 to Manchester United.
The first league meeting took place in Division Three South with the Robins visiting the Canaries’ Nest in March 1923. The game ended even, followed by a 4-0 defeat in the return fixture a couple of weeks later.
These results set the tone with Bristol holding the upper hand in those early meetings. This was to be expected as they bounced between Division Three South and Division Two, winning it twice in 1922-23 and 1926-27.
In nine fixtures in the 1920s, Norwich won just once. However, on 28 August 1933, in only the second game of the new 1933-34 season, Norwich thrashed Bristol City 7-2 – a huge victory in a momentous campaign that ended with the Canaries’ first Division Three South title.
Other high-scoring meetings included a heavy defeat at Ashton Gate in October 1947 when the Canaries lost 6-0, but on their next visit to the south-west, in the 1948-49 season, they won 6-1 – achieving a remarkable 12-goal swing. Norwich also won the home game 4-0 completing a 10-1 aggregate for the season.
It was now Norwich’s turn to go on a long unbeaten run, losing just twice in the next 16 games. The run continued into the 1960s and ’70s with both sides now regulars in Division Two and another run of two losses in 16 (10 of which were wins).
With that dominance in mind, it is surprising that Norwich lost the first-ever top-flight game between the two 3-1 in November 1976.
Bristol City spent four seasons struggling in the First Division before eventually dropping down at the end of the 1979-80 season, their plight not helped by two defeats to Norwich. The second of those would prove particularly fateful as Norwich won 3-2 in the Robins’ final home game of the season.
The 3-2 Norwich win was the last top-flight game witnessed in Bristol.
One Bristolian who did feature in the Premier League was Norwich City Hall of Famer, Rob Newman. Before he arrived at Carrow Road, Newman wore the red of his local club 483 times, the seventh highest in the all-time listings.
Newman enjoyed a remarkable late swansong at Norwich including playing in the UEFA Cup run and scoring a winning goal at Portman Road.
Since 1998 the two have resumed battle in the second tier, with Norwich largely on top.
In fact, the Yellows are unbeaten by the Robins in their last 11 meetings – a run that included a 3-0 away win during the Paul Lambert promotion season and a memorable 3-2 home win in the first Farke promotion campaign.
In the Canaries’ title-winning season of 2020-21, they won both games – 3-2 at Ashton Gate and 2-0 at Carrow Road – with the away game including an Emi Buendia special, and earlier this season, with Dean Smith at the helm, City narrowly won 3-2.