City make it night to remember
DAVID CUFFLEY Norwich City are as keen as mustard to stage more international football at Carrow Road - after more than 20,000 turned up last night to cheer England Under-21s to a 5-0 victory over Slovakia.
Norwich City are as keen as mustard to stage more international football at Carrow Road - after more than 20,000 turned up last night to cheer England Under-21s to a 5-0 victory over Slovakia.
Team boss Stuart Pearce described the crowd as “fantastic” after watching his youngsters tear their friendly opponents apart with a display that could easily have yielded a double-figure score.
Kieran Richardson's penalty gave England an interval lead, but they turned on the style in the final half-hour with Nigel Reo-Coker, Steven Taylor, Tom Huddlestone and substitute Leroy Lita adding to the goal tally.
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It was the perfect farewell performance for England ahead of the European Under-19 Championships in Holland, where they face the Czech Repubic in their opening Group B game in Arnhem next Monday.
The attendance was 20,193 and Pearce said: “The crowd were fantastic. For me it's one of those venues where I think it's ideal for an under-21 game. The pitch is fantastic, we've been training at Norwich's training ground, which is superb, and we'd like to thank them for that.
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“For our preparation, it was ideal for us - a great venue and the crowd turned up in numbers.”
It was City's first under-21 international for nearly 10 years but Andrew Cullen, director of sales and marketing, said he hoped the FA would look favourably on the idea of using Norwich for more international dates.
He said: “It has been 10 years but to be fair, we were offered the opportunity to host an under-21 game when the South Stand was knocked down, but with all the building work going on at that time, we had to decline that opportunity.
“But it's great that the FA have come back. They've seen a few changes here at Carrow Road over the last 10 years and let's hope it's not too long again before we're hosting under-21s or another international at any level.”
Cullen summed up the evening by saying: “A fantastic attendance, a great atmosphere and a great honour for Norwich City Football Club to host the FA and England Under-21s. There was an absolutely outstanding response from the public to come and support the England team tonight, so we're delighted.
“We had a huge proportion of families and youngsters coming tonight in all four stands. It doesn't half whet the appetite for the new season - we can't wait for it to start.
“We've spoken to one or two people from the FA and asked how it's gone and I think they were very happy. From Norwich City's perspective we're delighted. It's been a great night and a terrific result.
“I think we'd welcome back the FA for any type of international. We've been fortunate over the years to host the under-21s in 1997 and the under-19s and the ladies here as well. I think the FA do like coming back to Norwich and a key factor in that is the support they receive from the fans. It was another great attendance and that's something I hope will stand Norwich in good stead for future internationals.
“We know the England team will now be playing all full internationals at Wembley but there is still plenty of opportunity to see some great players and great skills.”
He said the FA were “looking at teams that can fill stadiums”.
He said: “It's good for the FA. They're very, very keen. They do set a sensible pricing structure, they do that in consultation with the clubs, and it looks good on television too. Norwich can come out of tonight with their heads held high.
“It's not about money, it's about the honour and the reputation of the football club and to be able to bring top footballers here to Norwich from the England team. For those youngsters to be able to watch, it will hopefully translate itself into a passion to come and watch Norwich City next season.”