What a corker! Partying with Delia when Norwich City went up to the Premier League without even playing
PUBLISHED: 17:12 01 May 2019 | UPDATED: 17:42 01 May 2019
David Clayton remembers the strange end to the 2003/04 season when Norwich City won promotion to the Premier League and celebrated at Carrow Road after a reserve game
Have you come down yet? Like many others, I'm still in the “did I dream it” post-promotion euphoria.
Football and specifically our own Canaries have a habit of playing déjà vu with our emotions because, of course, we've been there and got the T-shirt – literally. Promotion to the Premier League and the land of the 'big bucks' has happened before and it feels just as good this time round, or perhaps even better, simply because it was so unexpected. We were all getting a hint of it and we believed, but there was a sense we were floating under the main radar of the rest of the country and particularly the national media. Well, get ready for all those predictable headlines around Delia's culinary prowess and the inevitable “Canaries Flying High” all over again!
This was the first nailed-on promotion to the big time on home ground. However, in a way, it happened before and I have one abiding memory of the 2003/04 promotion, from which I have a unique souvenir. In case you've forgotten and to be honest I had until I checked, it was all down to whether Crystal Palace could beat Sunderland, our promotion rivals at the time. So, as the boss of Radio Norfolk, in a broadcasting decision I'm somewhat proud of to this day, I dispatched commentator Roy Waller, summariser, Neil Adams and Chris Goreham off to Selhurst Park to provide Norfolk listeners with our own yellow-and-green-tinted commentary of the match, so fans here could tune in and bite their nails. Before the proliferation of social media and smart phones, I think Ceefax was pretty much the only other easy option of keeping up to date on a match score. So, my decision to cover a non-Norwich City match seemed a logical if not, extravagant option.
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There was a reserve game at Carrow Road on the same night and a good few fans were planning to be there in case the Canary's promotion was sealed by the match in London. I can't recall the result of the reserve match, good though it was to watch, but I do know that many of us were tuned in on pocket radios to discover Norwich's promotion to the Premier League was confirmed, as Palace beat Sunderland 3-0.
Being a reserve match, things were a little more informal and I ended up on the pitch afterwards wielding a microphone in front of Delia and Michael. They were then, as they are now, modest, determined, inseparable and completely absorbed in their club. I asked some rather obvious questions; they proffered some wholly wonderful answers and in a time-honoured celebratory gesture, Delia popped open a bottle of champagne in front of the joyful fans. I think I even caught the sound effect for the radio. Afterwards, noticing the abandoned champagne cork on the pitch, I pocketed it, thinking: “Well, if we never do this again, I've a unique souvenir of a promotion night.” A promotion night at Carrow Road when the first team weren't actually there!
Goodness, I don't know what'll happen to us in the Premier League, but I do know while we're there so many more column inches will be written about us, and more TV cameras will be pointed at us and beaming pictures all over the world. People will be finding out exactly where we are on the map and a huge chunk of money will flow in this direction.
Last weekend I watched Delia and Michael respond to questions after this promotion, much like they did when I interviewed them back on that reserve game night. They couldn't be clearer that one really important factor was the club and fans gelling together, as well their talented head coach.
It might also be, although they wouldn't say it themselves, about the constancy of the two majority shareholders for over 20 years.
Oh, and Delia, I've still got your cork!
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