High-flying City bring back the good times

PUBLISHED: 10:55 19 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:14 10 September 2010

Sarah Hall

Norfolk expected and Nelson delivered. That was the story as Norwich City clinched promotion back into the Championship at the first attempt. Delighted Norwich City supporters are celebrating a remarkable turnaround in their club's fortunes, a little less than a year since the Canaries tumbled through the trap-door into League One.

Norfolk expected and Nelson delivered. That was the story as Norwich City clinched promotion back into the Championship at the first attempt.

Delighted Norwich City supporters are celebrating a remarkable turnaround in their club's fortunes, a little less than a year since the Canaries tumbled through the trap-door into League One.

Saturday's victory at Charlton was all the sweeter, because that was the ground where the final nail was rammed into the coffin of last year's Championship campaign, condemning the Canaries to the third tier of English football.

And a single point at Saturday's Carrow Road clash with Gillingham will guarantee the club the title - with the city's leaders hailing the return of the feelgood factor.

Norwich City boss Paul Lambert had a special word of praise for the club's loyal supporters, along with joint majority shareholders.

He said Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones had taken their share of criticism as City's fortunes plummeted - but deserved their day in the sun, on the same ground where relegation was confirmed 11 months ago.

"For myself, its fine, but I'm more delighted for the players and fans and the football club. And for Delia and the two Michaels, and people who have taken a lot of criticism over recent years, I am absolutely delighted for them.

"She's a terrific lady. There's no doubt. Michael, her husband, and Michael Foulger are three people who have had maybe the most stick out of everybody.

"The club had relegation, lost its manager, people ran on to the pitch, they lost 7-1 - everything was going wrong. Leeds and Charlton had won so many games ahead of us, in the cold light of day it's been an unbelievable turnaround - unbelievable."

He added: "To come back here where they were relegated last year and with some key players out, I'm just delighted - absolutely delighted.

"If I were them I'd milk it, because of the desperation of last season and the horrible feeling of it and it's nice to give them something back for their efforts - for them and the players, I'm absolutely delighted."

It is understood that the prize money for promotion from League One is only £10,000, with the title winners receiving £25,000, but the coffers at Carrow Road could be swelled by up to £3m next season thanks to television rights money.

John Tilson, chairman of the Norwich City Independent Supporters Association, said: "This is the first part of the rebuilding programme and next season will be a completely different ball game, but it's great to be back there.

"There were very serious doubts after the Colchester game as to what was going to happen, but now we just need a point to seal the title.

"Charlton was my 16th away game of the season and it was a big occasion. Norwich have had a history of bottling the big games over the years, going all the way back to the 1970s and 1980s.

"I remember going to Sheffield Wednesday where we lost and only went up because Leicester failed to win and then we had the Premiership game at Fulham and then Charlton last year. But we did well on Saturday, with Nelson and Doherty as good as they were bad at Leyton Orient.

"It was good to banish that hoodoo at The Valley."

City leaders were quick to pay tribute to the achievement of climbing out of League One at the first time of asking. Daniel Cox, leader of Norfolk County Council, said: "It's absolutely fantastic news for the whole of the county.

"As well as the inevitable benefits for the football club itself, the feel-good factor means the economy will benefit across the whole of the county. To go back up at the first time of asking is superb, especially after that opening game."

Caroline Williams, chief executive of the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, said: "It's been a tough time for the Norfolk economy over the last few months so the news that Norwich City are back on their way up is just brilliant. It should not be underestimated the power that a successful team like Norwich City can have on a community.

"Business confidence is key to a successful economy and there is no doubt when the football team does well, there is a feelgood factor across the business world which helps build that confidence.

"All at Carrow Road are to be congratulated and we look forward to more success next season."

Steve Morphew, leader of Norwich City Council, said: "It is a fantastic achievement and really good news for the city as well."

He added that preliminary discussions had taken place to hold a civic celebration to mark the Canaries' success. While Norwich city centre was relatively quiet on Saturday night, with some 3,000 Canaries supporters still making their way back from South London, this weekend could be a different story, especially if the title is secured at the home match with Gillingham.

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