David Bale Thousands of people turned out on the streets of Norwich last night to cheer on their football favourites as the victorious Canary players made their way slowly through the city towards the Castle for a civic reception.

David Bale

Thousands of people turned out last night to cheer on their football favourites as the victorious Canary players made their way slowly through the city towards the Castle for a civic reception.

About 35,000 supporters lined the streets to applaud the team, which has returned to the Championship at the first time of asking, after winning League One.

The city centre was a sea of yellow and green, with pubs and shops decked out in the Canaries' colours and fans creating a matchday atmosphere in the chilly early evening.

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Some fans sang the Canaries' anthem 'On the Ball City' while others blew horns and chanted their favourite players' names, while street traders tried to sell them scarves, flags, horns, whistles or banners.

And as the open-top bus slowly made its way along St Stephen's Street towards the castle, players on the top deck waved and thanked supporters for turning out in such numbers.

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For many fans the parade, which was sponsored by Aviva, evoked memories of 2004 when thousands turned out to celebrate Norwich's promotion to the Premiership with an open-top bus parade and civic reception at City Hall.

Rite Bean, from Dereham, has been a fan since she was a small child, and dragged her husband Phil along to the celebrations - in return for a free meal.

She said: “We got here at about 4.45pm, which is more than an hour before the bus was supposed to leave. But this kind of thing does not happen that often. I wanted to come and cheer on the team.”

She said it was the third time she had lined the streets to cheer on the Canaries.

“The first time was in 1972 when Ron Saunders' Division Two winning side was invited to a civic reception at the castle, and then again in 2004,” she said.

She was hopeful that next year the Canaries could reach the play-offs, adding: "It's looking good and we've got a good manager in Paul Lambert.”

Sandy Cutting, from Trunch, near Mundesley, said she would not have missed the event for anything.

“I've been a fan since I was seven and no way would I miss this,” she said. “We've had a brilliant season and I'll be City until I die.”

A season ticket holder in the Lower Barclay, she said Grant Holt was her favourite player.

Peter Hawkins, wife Cheryl and children Emily, 13, and Harry, 11, from Wymondham, said it was a “cracking” event and was good for the city.

“The atmosphere was great,” Mr Hawkins said.

Lisa and Ed Turner brought their children James, five, and Charlie, 10 months, to the parade from Aylsham

Mrs Turner said: “It was a lovely atmosphere and it put everyone in a good mood, which we all probably need.”

Meanwhile, Julie Hooper and son Marcus, nine, wanted to see the players “in the flesh”.

Mrs Hooper said: “It was a really good idea to hold the event and I think there are even more people here than there were in 2004.”

She may have been keen to see the players but her daughter Chantelle, 12, was more interested in shopping.

“I'm not a big football fan so I went shopping instead,” she said.

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