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Thanks Delia, thanks Daniel, thanks everyone - Norwich City is a truly special community club once more

PUBLISHED: 13:08 29 April 2019 | UPDATED: 22:34 30 April 2019

Norwich City fans hold up a banner that says it all, as their club earns promotion back to the Premier League. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Norwich City fans hold up a banner that says it all, as their club earns promotion back to the Premier League. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Paul Chesterton

Editor David Powles wants to thank all those who helped deliver a superb season for Norwich City, the city as a whole and Norfolk.

Norwich City fans celebrate their first goal during the Sky Bet Championship match at Carrow Road, Norwich Picture: Alan Stanford/Focus ImagesNorwich City fans celebrate their first goal during the Sky Bet Championship match at Carrow Road, Norwich Picture: Alan Stanford/Focus Images

When I convinced the then partner (now wife) to move with me back to the fine city of Norwich almost 13 years ago, I also managed to get permission to sign us up for Norwich City season tickets at the earliest opportunity.

But it was the mid-noughties and as I'm sure many of you will remember the club's stock wasn't particularly great during a period when Championship mediocrity was pretty much par for the course.

And I'll never forget when, halfway during Glenn 
Roeder's ill-fated time in charge, she turned to me and asked whether supporting Norwich City 'was always this depressing'?

This, coming from a Burton Albion fan, was a sign of just how dull it had become.

I tried to reassure her it was not the case. I told her tales of Jeremy Goss and Ian Crook in Europe, reminisced the pleasure of seeing Darren Eadie and Darren Huckerby flying down the wing and even Dean Ashton inspired wins over Manchester United – but she didn't seem convinced.

And of course she was right – because things got worse, we dropped into League One and our beloved club went close to going under – how close we may never fully know.

But in the decades since, I can't be the only one to think that following the Canaries has become an absolute pleasure. More than worth the money we pay to visit Carrow Road on a regular basis and easily justifying the decision my wife and I made to stick with them through thick and thin.

There have been low points, but it's rarely been dull as we've bounced between the top two tiers of English football, reached Wembley and repeatedly kept rivals Ipswich Town at bay.

But it's this 2018/19 season which has been on another level. A year that I suspect in decades to come we will look back on as fondly as we do those famous European nights.

And while I'm not going to use this column to repeat analysis that has already been made elsewhere, I do want to dish out some praise and gratitude for those many who have played a part in making it such a great season.

Why is this column not on the sports pages? I might at this point have you ask.

Well, as I've written before, I firmly believe Norwich City's fortunes matter as much off the field as they do on it. The buzz in the city and county at this moment is palpable.

Surely everyone, whether a fan or not, is lifted by seeing the name of Norwich up in lights in such a positive way?

What I've really loved most about the last nine months is how Norwich City has returned to being a true community club once more. The fans, players and backroom staff all united behind the same goals.

Delia, Michael, the board, management staff, day-to-day staff, Daniel Farke and his coaches and the players deserve so much credit for that – connecting more closely to the supporters has clearly been a strategy for the club and it's been brilliantly delivered.

But the fans deserve credit too. None of us were, hand on heart, expecting much from this season, yet still they've turned up in their droves, home and away. The support Norwich City gets is a massive part of what makes it such a special football club. And that sense of community, not just with regards football, is what makes Norfolk such a great county.

Inside the ground, fan groups Along Came Norwich and Barclay End Norwich also deserve a great deal of credit for the work they have done to improve the atmosphere in all of the stands. It has spread, made a real difference and needs to be carried into next season, through good times 
and bad.

But none of that would have happened if it wasn't for the staggering levels of performance that Farke and his team have managed to coax out of the squad. This has been a truly remarkable season both on an off the pitch.

Football is, in many ways, the beating heart of Norwich and Norfolk. It's a heart that is strong and very, very healthy.

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