Norwich pub sees turnaround after it ends era as away fans venue
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018
For 30 years the Compleat Angler on Prince of Wales Road in Norwich was the go-to pub for away fans visiting Carrow Road.
But last year the manager of the watering hole closed the door to away supporters and welcomed the yellow and green army.
And he says the pub's fortune has turned around as it is now known across the city as a Canaries pub.
Andrew Coe, a lifelong Norwich City fan, took over as manager of the pub at the end of 2016 and saw how the reputation it had as an away fans' pub was killing trade.
'A lot of people in Norwich are very religious to the football and it's all about the colours pub and if it's not a colours pub you just don't step foot in it,' he said. 'And because we weren't one, that was the reason this pub started failing.'
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So Mr Coe took a risk to change more than a generation of tradition and made the Compleat Angler a City-only pub on match days.
The idea was trialled for the Ipswich Town game last season and since then the pub has not looked back.
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'We have seen an uptake in everything but it wasn't just for the sales, for me I wanted to bring the pub back to Norwich,' said Mr Coe. 'This is one of the biggest focus pubs in Norwich as it is one of the first ones you see coming into the city centre and I wanted to bring it back to the hearts of the city.'
The risk may have paid off but it has proved more difficult to get the message across to visiting fans that the pub is no longer a place they can go.
'When people go to away football it is tradition to go to the pub they were at last year but they can't do that here anymore,' he said. 'We used to spend six days a week clearing up the mess and sorting all the broken stuff out and now guys come in and we don't have to worry about that.'
During the pub's time as an away venue Mr Coe said they welcomed some great fans, such as those who follow Newcastle United, but with some teams he admitted there was always the worry something would kick off.
And he added that he still believes it will still be some time before we see the end of away pubs.
'I think there are still rivalries and it would be impossible to mix a Norwich Ipswich game.
'Until the risk groups are dissolved I don't think there is any chance it could happen.'
Going away as a City fan
As chairman of the Canaries Trust, Robin Sainty has spent years travelling to towns and cities across the country with Norwich City.
And he still believes a designated pub is a must for away fans.
'I still think away pubs are important as it's always nice to have a focal point with your own supporters and know there will be no issues,' he said.
'And football fans are creatures of habit so want to go where to they have been before.'
The season ticket holder tries to go to as many away games as possible and said one of his favourite grounds to visit is The Hawthorns.
'I always enjoy West Brom and the pub is very good as it is for home and away fans which is great.
'Any Norwich fan going there knows the pub as a focal point so everyone heads there.'
He added that football is 'relatively civilised' these days and there is rarely trouble from rival fans.