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Still On the Ball - how football's past is unlocking the present for older Norwich City fans

PUBLISHED: 12:12 16 October 2019 | UPDATED: 12:12 16 October 2019

Carrow Road, January 1959 and Norwich City's famous 3-0 FA Cup third round win over Manchester United

Carrow Road, January 1959 and Norwich City's famous 3-0 FA Cup third round win over Manchester United

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Norwich City's rich history is helping senior football fans unlock their own wider memories in a new Age UK Norwich project called Still On The Ball. By Shaun Lowthorpe

Norwich Age UK's Still On the Ball project at Carrow RoadNorwich Age UK's Still On the Ball project at Carrow Road

Carrow Road on September 14 is a day which will live long in the memory of Norwich City fans as Daniel Farke's team defeated reigning Premier League champions Manchester City 3-2.

It's a result that will be etched in the collective memory for years to come.

Forging memories through football is also at the heart of Still On the Ball - an Age UK Norwich group which brings older fans together and helps them unlock memories of their own.

Gathering in the 1959 Room of Norwich City Football Club a group of older fans, each living with dementia, and their carers, are getting ready to reminisce about other legendary days gone by.

Dave Stringer celebrates his 1972 promotion winning goal at WatfordDave Stringer celebrates his 1972 promotion winning goal at Watford

Volunteers Martin Eagle, Eddie Edwards, and Bill Goreham, lead the two-hour sessions which are organised by Age UK Norwich through the team at its Marion Day Centre. And joining them this time is the charity's patron William Armstrong.

Martin, a life-long Canaries fan, kicks off going through some key match dates in the club's past in an A-Z of Norwich City which he spent many hours preparing. He starts with a look back at City's record 10-2 defeat against Swindon, and Mark Robins scoring a winning goal in a 1-0 win against Southampton asking people if they can remember who played back then.

Bill, who is the dad of Radio Norfolk match day commentator Chris Goreham, chips in and shares around some old programmes and magazines which gets us on to Watford.

At this point Eddie starts to play the theme from the Z-Cars and the talk among the group turns to Everton (the link being that the theme was played at both clubs when the home sides ran on to the pitch).

Norwich City's squad have embarked on a spell this month that could shape their Premier League prospects Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdNorwich City's squad have embarked on a spell this month that could shape their Premier League prospects Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Still on Watford, Bill adds that in 1972 Norwich secured promotion against the Hornets,

"Did anybody go?" he asks.

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"My memory is how much it rained," Eddie says.

Norwich Age UK's Still On the Ball project at Carrow RoadNorwich Age UK's Still On the Ball project at Carrow Road

From there the talk ranges from old TV shows, the music of Lonnie Donegan and in particular My Old Man's a Dustman.

Although many of those attending have difficulty with their short-term memory, bringing out these stories and associated memories and feelings brings the room alive. Everyone is the same, football fans talking about what they love.

One of the group mentions how he used to practise one-twos off the back of the bus in Norwich's Hotblack Road.

Another remembers how the binmen hauled bins full of hot cinders over their shoulders and then recalls the old fish vans paying a visit on a Sunday, and being taken to see Lonnie Donegan at the Seaside Special in Great Yarmouth.

More football memories - including a 1977 match against Manchester United when the away fans brought down one of the stands, and someone starts talking about PC 649 Ivan Kidgell patrolling the back of the Barclay stand.

Due to the group's success, another session has been launched in Lakenham, which is open to all over 50.

"I enjoy doing it," Martin says. "As well as the football I like trying to put other bits in as I realised that not everybody who attended were long time Norwich City supporters - so I try to make it different."

William Armstrong, Age UK Norwich's patron also finds himself very quickly swept up in the football talk.

"It's very lively," he says. "It's amazing what people can remember. People's lives are being enriched by things that happened a long time ago, but which are still very real and part of their story. And it's about social history and it's good to be part of that process."

And like everyone in the room he is soon sharing his own footballing anecdotes including his own memories of a Manchester giant-killing - the 1959 FA Cup 3rd round tie against United when the Canaries beat Sir Matt Busby's team 3-0.

"I went with my father and can remember the profound shock of what happened," he recalls. "It was the biggest giant-killing result of the time and I couldn't believe it happened!"



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