“It was from the South Stand that I first enjoyed watching Norwich City. It was the area of the ground now known as The Jarrold Stand. It was not called the South Stand because it faces south, as some people wrongly believe. It was named after Arthur South (later Sir Arthur), club Director and Chairman for many years.
Why my City fan career started there was almost certainly to do with my age. We are talking 1969 here. I was 10 years old. In those days young kids were able to go to Carrow Road without adult supervision. You did not need a ticket or to be a member. You just hopped on the bus, walked to the ground, paid in old money at the turnstile and stood anywhere you wanted. And that is what me and my schoolmate did.
It must have been a different world then because I am absolutely certain children of that age would not be able to do that these days. In 1969, City were in the Second Division. Gates ranged anything between ten and twenty thousand and the vast majority of supporters stood. Football grounds were not safe places. But I have to say that Carrow Road was deliciously exciting, much more than the modern sanitised stadiums of today.
In those very earliest days, I remember that you could go to all parts of the ground other than the Main Stand. On my very first visit I was largely clueless as to how anything worked. We stood right down the very front, in the corner where the South Stand and Barclay joined. The view wasn’t great despite us being up against the metal bars. We were hardly tall enough to see over them. And I think there was some early stereotyping of supporters by us – maybe not after just one game but certainly after a month or two.
The Barclay was for the under twenty fives, young and energetic with attitude thrown in, songsters and bovver boys, rude and irreverent and certainly out of the reach of two ten year olds.
The Main Stand, the only seated area, was for the knowledgeable, the well off who had travelled to the game by car and not bus, the owners and benefactors of the club, the hoity-toity season ticket holders. We wouldn’t have wanted to sit down even if we could have afforded it !
The River End was where we should have been, a towering terrace full of working class people, mainly men, who brought their public house habits to the home of Norwich City and generally moaned whether we won lost or drew. But it didn’t have a roof ! So the South Stand it was.
In 1969, the prominent Canaries were players like Keelan, Stringer and Forbes, Tommy Bryceland and a young Graham Paddon, and on the wing a clever and crafty Scotsman, Kenny Foggo. His name was the first I ever chanted from the terrace:
Kenny, Kenny Foggo
Kenny Foggo on the wing
Kenny, Kenny Foggo
Kenny Foggo on the wing
And in the meantime we also learnt the words of the much viler offerings from The Barclay Boys, good preparation for our transfer to them once we reached eleven or twelve years old. But in the South Stand, nobody ever spoke to us, or helped us by explaining the rules.
We were just part of a gaggle of excited kids down at the front. I still remember the smells. Cigarettes. Hamburgers. Onions from the hot dogs. Older boys sold sweets, drinks, and crisps from little trays like usherettes use at the pictures. I used to treat myself to a pack of Wrigleys Spearmint chewing gum every week. Or Juicy Fruit. I remember the terraces being covered in old hardened chewing gum too. Dropped there by people like me.
I remember the men selling programmes which were a flimsy white effort with black and white photographs only. After you had fingered through it for five minutes the ink started to rub off. And by the time you got home and took it out of your anorak pocket, it looked like it was a hundred years old. I loved those programmes – still do, and occasionally buy one now for old times sake.
I remember the old concrete tunnel along the back of the South Stand and the smell of the stagnant water that sat just beyond the wire fence that ran the length of the ground on that side. That stream was to be there for years.
And I have vivid memories of the scarves people wore. Home knitted by their wives or mums or aunties with the colours never quite right, the yellow too orangey or the green too limey. And bobble hats. I had one but cut the bobble off because it looked real daft. My Mum knitted the hat and I think my sister made the bobble.
Some kids went the whole hog – Canary balaclavas. But they were the ones taken to the match by their Dads and so had to wear them. One man used to arrive with his young son just before kick off and plonk him down right at the front, blocking our view because he always stood him on top of an upturned Watneys beer crate.
We used to throw chewing gum at the back of his head as a punishment. You would often see blokes carrying these crates to the match, along King Street and over Carrow Bridge or down Riverside, and they used to have a struggle getting them through the turnstyles. Some of them didn’t even have kids. It was difficult to get a great watching place in many parts of the ground so they brought the crates for themselves.
I can’t exactly remember the admission price for a junior in 1969 but I think it was about half a crown, twelve and a half pence in today’s currency. The programme was a shilling – or five pence. When I think about the players on show and how much it cost – football was certainly not money driven in those days. It was accessible to the working classes and affordable even for little lads willing to allocate part of their pocket money to it.
There was a little shop that sold away programmes – if I could stretch my pennies to it, I used to sometimes buy one. There was something fantastic about programmes from other clubs, a chance to see what they wrote about my heroes. I once had a choice of spending all my money on one and walking the three miles home rather than using the bus. I walked home.
I never, to be truthful, fell in love with the South Stand. I always found it a little characterless, nondescript. But it was a bit special because it was my first home at Carrow Road. I returned to the South Stand again in the second half of the eighties – by then it was a seated stand. I sat regularly right at the front and right on half way.
It was a great position in that I could almost reach out and touch the players. But I also got soaked every time it rained. Water used to drop down off the roof and rarely missed me. Sometimes it would hit me right on the back of my neck. I maybe should have had one of those balaclavas after all. It would have come in handy twenty years later.
In 1970-71, my second season as a Norwich City fan, more lads from near to where we lived started coming to the matches with me and my pal. We were to get more adventurous, both inside the ground and in the surrounding area before and after the game. We also moved to The Barclay. Not as Barclay Boys as such because we were still too young. But we moved around the corner, out of the South Stand and into the war zone…………
But more of that another time.“