Ten years on, there’s still only one Roy Waller

PUBLISHED: 06:30 06 July 2020

Roy Waller, pictured as the new Sheriff of Norwich at City Hall in 2008.  
Picture: Adrian Judd

Roy Waller, pictured as the new Sheriff of Norwich at City Hall in 2008. Picture: Adrian Judd


It’s 10 years on Monday, July 6 since we lost “The Voice of Carrow Road.” Derek James pays tribute to the one and only Roy Waller

Roy Waller ready to commentate on his beloved Norwich City at Carrow RoadRoy Waller ready to commentate on his beloved Norwich City at Carrow Road

A crowd of around 50,000 people had gathered outside City Hall in Norwich on May 10, 2004,to celebrate the Canaries getting promoted to the Premier League.

On the balcony were their heroes, the likes of Delia Smith, manager Nigel Worthington, captain Adam Drury, striker Darren Huckerby and the rest of the team.

Ticker tape came tumbling down from the roof where a huge replica Canary grinned as it presided over the joyous proceedings and nine Jaguars from RAF Coltishall screamed overhead in a hi-tech salute to East Anglian’s proudest football team.

Then, the crowd spotted a man on the balcony who was not a player or an official and the chant began: “One Roy Waller, there’s only one Roy Waller, there’s only one Roy WAAALLERR.”

Phil Mulryne gets quizzed by Roy Waller on the City Hall balcony in the summer of 2004Phil Mulryne gets quizzed by Roy Waller on the City Hall balcony in the summer of 2004

“Transfixed, I felt a lump in my throat. I had a sudden intake of breath, and my eyes watered,” said Roy.

“I began to gulp. And I had to turn and walk back inside to recover my composure. To be recognised and get that kind of acclaim was the highlight of my career. I knew the fans had not come to see there to see me, but I was part of it,” he added.

As we know only too well, following the fortunes of Norwich City has its ups and it’s downs.

For many years the man behind the microphone broadcasting on BBC Radio Norfolk whose voice was heard in thousands of homes was Roy. He was one of those radio commentators whose face was an famous as his voice.

Mourners applaud as the cars leave Norwich Cathedral following Roy Waller's funeral service in 2010Mourners applaud as the cars leave Norwich Cathedral following Roy Waller's funeral service in 2010

As former manager Nigel Worthington said at the time: “It was a particular joy for me to see him alongside the players on the balcony of City Hall. Although he is independent, as every BBC commentator must be, he is part of us.

“He is the link between our away games and those who cannot travel to them. And he provides a valuable service to those whose health or other circumstances don’t allow them to come to Carrow Road, added Nigel.

But there was a time a few years later, of another great highlight of his life, a time when Roy was speechless on air, well almost.

He was chatting to Steve Morphew from Norwich City Council when, suddenly out of the blue (sorry yellow and green), he was invited to become the Sheriff of Norwich in 2008.

Roy was overwhelmed at the invitation and delighted to able to serve his city and its people with his wife Sylvie by his side as Sheriff’s Lady.

A year like no other for war baby who grew up on Mile Cross who had become one of the best known and popular men in the city and county.

“I am very proud of my roots; they provided me with lots of adventures. In those days we had no fear,” he said.

Born in 1940 he went to just one school, the Norman. His dad, back from the war, returned to his job at the famous old Swan Laundry. He learnt to swim in the Wensum…and it nearly cost him his life.

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He caught diphtheria and was treated in an open-ended isolation unit at the West Norwich Hospital which was like a garage with no doors. Fresh air was the idea and he slowly recovered.

One of his early memories was being pushed along behind a tar lorry in the belief the fumes would stop him from becoming ill again!

His father took him to football when he was just a boy. “We all went on a Saturday, from the Bishop of Norwich to the boys from Mile Cross. That was the thing to do,” he said.

He always wanted to be a journalist but his first job was as the office boy with estate agents, Hanbury Williams, before moving to Norwich Union.

His third job was with the AA (Automobile Association) on Thorpe Road but his dream of broadcasting from Carrow Road was about to come true…he joined the ranks of the legendary John Taylor in the Hospitals Sports Commentary Service.

Then he read in the Evening News that the BBC was bringing local radio to Norwich…his life was about to change.

Roy left the AA after 24 years and headed down to Norfolk Towers…it was the birth of a radio star in the early 1980s.

The afternoon show, with those hilarious phone calls, Rodeo Norfolk, the country music special, the football and a new life being married to Sylvie. His colleague who became his wife.

The boy from Mile Cross turned into a celebrity….and the question was: “What’s for tea, mother?

Who else had been gunged in front of millions of television viewers on the Noel Edmunds Show and shaken hands with American President George Bush senior in the States and then warned he could have been 

He was in constant demands as a compere for the popular country music shows and all the stars knew him, even the world famous American ones, and then there was a certain heartthrob by the name of Daniel O’Donnell.

To my mind Roy he was not only the voice of Carrow Road but Mr Norfolk himself. One of our finest ambassadors. How he loved the county and its people

There was the time he said on air that he believed the Queen was staying at Sandringham and hoped she was enjoying herself.

The radio, it was reported, was on in the stables where the Queen was and she replied: “Having a lovely time, thank you very much!”

Then he met Prince Philip who said to him: “You are the football chap.”

He was indeed…and so much more.

Roy died on July 6, 2010 aged 69 but his memory lives on and the man who has stepped into his shoes so well is popular Radio Norfolk presenter Chris Goreham who now broadcasts at Carrow Road from the Roy Waller Commentary Box.

His memory lives on...

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