Ian Clarke: Canary-mad Steve would be proud of a special week for City family

Steve Ellis (centre) with his brothers Jason (left) and Julian (right). Picture: Courtesy of Steve Ellis' family.

Steve Ellis (centre) with his brothers Jason (left) and Julian (right). Picture: Courtesy of Steve Ellis' family. - Credit: Courtesy of Steve Ellis' family.

I had very contrasting emotions on the morning when Dean Smith was announced as our new head coach.

I was pleased that the uncertainty was over, excited to get the new era started and eager to lap up all the information I could on Smith and his new coaching team.

At the same time as a momentous time for Norwich City Football Club was unfolding, we were preparing for a celebration of life service for a really good mate and massive Canary fan Steve Ellis.

Steve died far too soon at the age of just 55.

Flowers in memory of City-mad Steve Ellis. Picture: Archant.

Flowers in memory of City-mad Steve Ellis. Picture: Archant. - Credit: Archant

He loved City and had seen countless games in his life.

Steve brought his children up to share his passion for the Canaries and enjoyed many memorable hours at matches with them.

Family was a massively important part of Steve's life.

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And through the terrible sadness of saying farewell to a good mate, I have been so clearly reminded what a special family spirit we have at Norwich City.

I had planned to wear yellow and green colours to Steve's service but on the morning I started to have second thoughts and wanted to ensure I was being fully respectful to all those in attendance.

City-mad Steve Ellis had the nickname of Gru, given to him by his nephew Liam. Picture: Courtesy of Steve Ellis' family.

City-mad Steve Ellis had the nickname of Gru, given to him by his nephew Liam. Picture: Courtesy of Steve Ellis' family. - Credit: Courtesy of Steve Ellis' family.

But just as we were about to leave, Steve's dear mum and dad Barry and June walked past sporting Canary scarves. That warmed my heart and confirmed it was the right thing to do.

City's famous colours were certainly out in force as we said farewell, with special wreaths in his memory and a magnificent yellow and green shirt and tie combo worn by his brother and fellow City-mad follower Jason (his other brother Julian wasn't quite so sure about that choice of outfit!)

After the service we moved on to the wake, and with family and friends shared so many stories, many of which revolved around the Canaries.

Steve Ellis loved Norwich City. Picture: Courtesy of Steve Ellis' family.

Steve Ellis loved Norwich City. Picture: Courtesy of Steve Ellis' family. - Credit: Courtesy of Steve Ellis' family.

My favourite among some greats was the tale of a City away day up north. A "minibus" had supposedly been ordered to transport the lads but unfortunately something was missing when it was picked up....seats.

Rather than being put off, the boys went to one of their houses and dragged a three-piece suite into the back of the van to provide comfort for the journey. Simple!

They don't do club travel like that any more.

Steve loved spending time chatting about City performances, team line-ups and what had gone right (and wrong).

I know he would have had plenty to say about the change in management and there are lots of people close to Steve who will dedicate the stirring comeback against Southampton to him.

There is something brilliantly special about the family bond at Carrow Road, from Delia and Michael down (and it was fantastic to see their reaction on Saturday).

It is clear that Deano (that seems to be the favourite nickname for him) also values family so highly.

Dean Smith does not see a move to Norwich City as a risk

Dean Smith does not see a move to Norwich City as a risk - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Limited

One of the things which really impressed me was when I heard that he said would not put off going with his wife to see their son in New York despite the quick action needed to seal the deal to come here.

Football is a rough, tough world, but it is so heartening that our club has the importance of family in its DNA.

Over the years I've had the enormous pleasure to watch so many City games with my son and Mum and Dad and that has been so special.

We all know we face a real battle to stay in the Premier League.

The new chapter got off to an excellent start and we certainly have renewed hope that the seeming miracle could come true.

Sticking together as the Canary family will be so important in the weeks and months ahead.

I know Steve would be saying "yes we can do it" - and yes we can!

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Krul's crucial part

I've seen six different players nominated as man of the match in the Southampton game.

Billy Gilmour got the official award from the sponsors and it was certainly his best performance in a City shirt.

Grant Hanley was my choice and despite a couple of errors in the first half, I thought he was a man mountain and his blocks, leadership and of course that goal were massive (and yes I did predict he'd get the winner in a 2-1 victory with a header after Teemu Pukki scored the first).

The celebrations begin after Grant Hanley's winner for Norwich City against Southampton

Grant Hanley celebrates his second half winner against the Saints - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Ben Gibson, Milot Rashica, Max Aarons and Josh Sargent have also been highlighted and they were all very good.

Let me throw in the part Tim Krul played. Imagine if the Saints had scored again and the stopper had not foiled them with that magnificent first half save.

They had a real momentum at that stage and I feel would have gone on to get more.

As crucial moments go in matches and seasons, that was huge.

Superb support

Every week in the EDP and Evening News we have a Through The Decades supplement which takes a fascinating trip down memory lane in our city and county.

Part of it is looking back on a Norwich City game and the latest edition featured a match from November 23, 1991.

The score was Norwich 3, Coventry 2 and a certain 18-year-old - none other than Chris Sutton - bagged on his Canaries' debut to help seal the win.

One thing which really jumped out at me was the attendance for that top flight game - just 12,056.

It's strange to think back to those days when there were empty spaces on the terraces and unfilled seats.

Since we started filling the ground week in week out and had a waiting list for season tickets, we take things for granted.

Let's not forget how magnificent the City support is - backed up with the fact that already the away allocation for the Newcastle, Spurs and West Ham are already totally sold out. 


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