I have a great deal to thank my Dad for as he made the decision that I would be a Norwich City supporter. It wasn’t a difficult one for him to make, and he didn’t have to negotiate with Mum about which team I should follow as she was as ardent a City fan as Dad.
As was traditional in the Allman family, we went up to Norwich during the school holidays to see our grandparents. We either stayed with my Mum’s parents who lived in Mountfield Avenue, off the Reepham Road or in Ashby Street with my Grandad.
My first game was Easter 1971. As we lived in London we would have travelled up on the Thursday evening for the long weekend which meant we could attend the Good Friday mass at St John the Baptist Church; at that time it was a church but now a Cathedral.
As is said about the good old days – they don’t make them like they used to. Fixture lists being one such example. During the course of the 1971 Easter weekend, City played three times in four days. The first game was on Good Friday at Charlton where we lost 1-2, and there was also a game on Easter Monday at Carrow Road which resulted in a 1-1 draw. Kenny Foggo scored in both these games.
Sandwiched in between the Friday and Monday games was the home fixture against QPR on Saturday 10th April 1971. I was approaching my 7th birthday, and my only experience of live football had been a couple of matches at Lower Mead, where Wealdstone, my local non-league played.
It was a fine day as I recall, we drove to the game and parked in Rouen Road. At least I think it was there as Dad always used to try and get to the games early and find a good space for a quick getaway. Dad had arranged for us to sit in the Main Stand and we had seats towards the Barclay end, near the edge of the penalty box.
As regards the game, City won easily beating QPR 3-0, with two of the goals being scored by City legends, Dave Stringer and Kenny Foggo. The other goal was scored by Malcolm Darling who claimed one of his five career goals for Norwich that day. “Canary Citizens” wrote of Malcolm Darling “A utility player who wore four of the shirts that made up the conventional forward line, which is usually a sign that one’s stay will be a short one” His last game for City was in September 1971. A pal’s Dad who is a member of the Capital Canaries who was also at the game, remembers Darling as “A winger who didn’t hang around that long”.
We attended one more home game that season, and a few in the Championship season of 1971/2, including the finale at Vicarage Road. We even attended Saturday afternoon reserve games when we were in Norwich, if the first team were playing away.
I was hooked, and even more so when I got my first Norwich City kit which was a purchase from Pilches. My overriding memory of opening the present and seeing the kit was one excitement which turned to disappointment as Dad had forgotten to buy the yellow socks. Luckily he phoned up my grandparents who bought a pair and posted them down to London for me.
Over forty years on and I’ve managed to “persuade”, my elder daughter Gemma to become a City fan, although my wife would argue that is has been more akin to brainwashing than persuasion. Her first game was in a baby-sling when she was only three months old, when City drew 1-1 with Sheffield United in 1999, but her first “real” game was towards the end of the Championship season in 2004 when we beat Walsall 5-0.
by Tim Allman