Up (and down) the canaries

Last weekend our Norfolk football team, Norwich City, played an important Premier League game. Norwich (fourth from bottom in the Premier League) met Aston Villa (who are bottom). Villa won 2-0 and Norwich are now third from bottom; once again their supporters are in for an agonising period, desperately hoping the team avoids relegation.

These supporters have been here before – often. In successive seasons, with the occasional gap in between, Norwich are either struggling for survival in the Premier Division or stretching for promotion in the next league down, the Championship. Throw in a disappointing cup run and that is the life of the Norwich supporter. Yet they remain a cheerful lot and, having travelled on the odd homeward bound train from London with them, would say that they are least threatening supporters anyone could encounter. The Norwich City mascot is a Canary: only Chesterfield’s Chester the Fieldmouse offers a challenge as the least aggressive mascot in football. By contrast Cyril the Swan, Swansea City’s mascot once received a £1,000 fine for ripping off the head of Millwall’s Zampa the Lion and drop-kicking it into the crowd.

Although a rugby man, as a local can I empathise with the Norwich City supporters and share their pain. I greatly admire their stoicism. During the 90s I worked in an investment bank which had prestigious offices in the City of London. An expensive facade was used to disguise underlying incompetence. Unfortunately the main lift broke down repeatedly, spoiling the impression of grandeur. One day I took the time to ask the repair team what was causing the problem.   ‘The trouble is’, I was told, ‘it has to go up and down all day’. So indeed do Norwich City.


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