Report from new Canaries social club: A night of few cliches - just a genuine love for Norwich City FC
10:00 25 February 2016
Adam Drury is joking about owing Norwich City £500k because the club released him as a teenager, then a few years later brought him back.
Dave Stringer is explaining how the Canaries could currently be plying their trade at Colney, with Carrow Road a distant memory, if former chairman Robert Chase had his way.
Darren Eadie is telling tales of 40-yard goals - scored with his right-foot.
And Dean Ashton keeps making jokes about his big weakness in life - a love for food - and how it even led to a telling off from then England manager Fabio Cappello.
You haven’t been given an insight into the fevered dreams of this particular Norwich City fan, this is in fact four of the discussions at last week’s Legend’s night hosted by the recently formed Norwich City Fans Social Club.
Founder Diane Blazier was kind enough to invite me along to the enjoyable - and impressively honest - evening, hence a temporary diversion in this week’s column from matters on the field.
The forum was set up last year with the aim of bringing like minded supporters together through a host of different events - as well as raising funds for the Community Sports Foundation.
Prior to this, which was the fourth event, more than £1,300 had already been donated and the forum’s volunteer team has grown to an impressive 16.
Support from the fans is growing - but also it would appear those associated with the club are happy to get involved.
Around 150 people were present at the Q&A night, as were the four aforementioned big guns from Norwich City’s past.
With Eadie taking hosting duties, all four spoke with the candour and levels of intelligence that are sadly all too often lacking in the sanitised, cliche-ridden interviews we are used to witnessing from some modern day players.
Former left-back Drury was first to take the microphone, talking about his pride at being made Norwich captain, which surprised few at the time as he was generally known as ‘Nigel’s Son’ in reference to the apparent love Mr Worthington had for him.
He also recalled being offered a joint playing and coaching role by the Canaries, but choosing instead to head off to Leeds United, where a certain Neil Warnock then decided he didn’t like him after all and he was quickly cast aside.
Next up was former manager Stringer, a man so Norwich City he surely deserves a stand in his honour?
He talked of ‘Big Dunc’ Duncan Forbes and a voice so loud he could be ‘heard in Yarmouth’, of having to drive colourful former chief scout Ronnie Brooks to watch games because he was so afraid to leave Norfolk and how it could have all been so different had he stayed in engineering after being rejected by Arsenal.
He also raised the biggest mutterings of discontent of the night by mentioning the name of a certain former chairman with a selling policy and an apparent desire to move the club out of the city, before planners got in the way.
Perhaps the most fascinating take on life in the game was provided by someone who’s time at the top was all too short.
It’s easy to forget former City striker Dean Ashton is still only 32. Having burst on to the scene as a teenager at Crewe, his career was cruelly cut short by injury at just 26.
In an alternative world I’m sure he’s still banging in the goals and has a distinguished England career to look back on, not just the solitary cap.
His words are as compelling, as they are tragic, though to be fair to Ashton himself, he appears to make little room for self-pity.
He told the fans: “It was devastating at the time. If I asked you to give up your favourite thing and said from today you could never do it again, imagine how you would feel?
“Imagine if that thing has been your life and the lives of all those around you from when you were a child.
“Football is such a bubble, everything evolves around it. I was always ‘Dean Ashton the footballer’ and then I suddenly had to work out who I actually was, what I liked and what I was like.”
With host Eadie talking of his own career being cut short and having to just ‘find a way’ of recapturing a purpose in life, it’s a stark reminder football can shatter dreams as well as make them.
Yet in spite of this the mood is rarely sombre and the revelations and tales of life at Carrow Road keep on coming for 90 minutes that were almost as enjoyable as those we witness on the pitch.
It is so rare for fans to get such an insight and I hope that as the new club develops, players from the present, not just the past, are as prepared to give up their time in such a way.
The relationship between players and fans can often feel more distant than ever, but events like this can go a long way to remind supporters most footballers are just decent people talented enough to achieve the dreams so many of us have.
Need another reason to sign up for the next event? They do a mighty fine raffle.
To find out more and for full details of the next event, a quiz night on April 13, visit ncfsc.co.uk.