David Freezer: Next phase of atmosphere overhaul at Carrow Road put in place by City fans
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Taking inspiration from Liverpool, involving other areas of Carrow Road and cranking the volume up further are all part of the next chapter for Norwich City fans who helped inject fresh life into the atmosphere at Canaries games.
Supporters groups Along Come Norwich and Barclay End Norwich were at the heart of the excellent work which made Carrow Road such a colourful and energetic stadium during last season's Championship title triumph.
Next Saturday a new initiative will begin ahead of the 5.30pm kick-off against champions Manchester City, when the inaugural Along Come Norwich Live event is held in the Russell Allison Lounge in the Barclay Stand.
After working closely with chief operating officer Ben Kensell and his commercial team at City, a pre-game 'knees up' is being held between 2pm and 4.30pm, featuring a Q&A with Canaries legend Darren Huckerby.
Six hundred tickets have gone on sale at £5 each, including a free beer from sponsors Woodforde's. ACN will record a live podcast, music will be provided by local band The Revere and a live podcast will be recorded - to get the singing started early and generate more funds for the flags which have added such vibrancy in the past year.
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ACN co-founder, Andrew Lawn, explains: "There's a Liverpool fan, who does a similar kind of thing to Along Come Norwich, they've got a music magazine and he's a singer. He started putting on club nights for Liverpool fans at away games.
"His thing is called Boss Night and it's worth having a look on YouTube for clips of some of their events. This guy, Jamie Webster, started to run a Liverpool magazine with some mates and that's how they spread 'Allez, Allez, Allez' - and that's just gone ballistic, which came from one of their club nights, then became famous so more and more people went to them.
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"Then when Liverpool started to do well in Europe they'd do one in Munich before a Bayern game etc, and we thought it would be a really cool thing to do in Norwich.
"So we had a conversation with Ben Kensell at the start of this season and he said he would really like to help us and when he heard that Manchester City was going to be a 5.30pm kick-off he suggested that might be a good game because the ground will open later, so there's more of an afternoon to do it."
- You can watch a video of one of the Boss Night events below, which does occasionally feature language which some may find offensive.
Lawn added: "A lot of people before a game will go and have a drink with their mates but a lot of people will do that outside Carrow Road and get to the game just before kick-off, so we thought we'd try and do that at the ground, then make it a bit more of a party atmosphere and get people pumped up and excited to be there."
While supporters working with the club have helped to rejuvenate the matchday atmosphere in the Barclay Stand, the ACN crew are keen to emphasise that their pre-game event is open to fans who sit in all parts of the ground.
"The other thing that's quite nice about this is, we're quite conscious about everything that we do is in the lower Barclay," Lawn continued. "So we get a lot of people asking why we can't do flags in the River End or the upper Barclay or whatever.
"We would love for that to happen but we can't physically be in two places at once, so we can only do the lower Barclay, but because the Man City game kicks off at half five we can get the bar open before the ground officially opens.
"So you don't have to be going to the game and you don't have to be sitting in the Barclay to come on Saturday."
Around 100 flags have now spread to the upper tier of the Barclay, thanks to some keen volunteers taking on the responsibility of putting the flags out, collecting them and ensuring they are stored correctly.
There is also a new batch of 2,000 flags on order, which are due to arrive before the Aston Villa game on Saturday, October 5, from the crowd-funding which is still going strong - after a season of memorable displays and atmospheres.
"I think we all felt that it far exceeded our expectations in terms of where we hoped we'd end up, I don't think any of us saw it taking off quite as well as it did," Lawn continued.
"What I think will be really cool is when you look back on this season in years to come, is that a lot of the images from last season will feature the flags and the party atmosphere that we tried to create.
"So for me, that will be the thing in years to come when you look back and see the pictures of all the flags at the Ipswich and Sheffield Wednesday games, and also away like when everyone held up their scarves at Wigan and made that yellow wall - that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up!
"Those sort of images, for me, they're what football is all about. We've got the best colours in English football, yellow and green, nobody else has that. To be able to make the best of them and to celebrate them, to make something that was just ours, was really cool."
FROM THE ARCHIVE: Along Come Norwich join us for part 2 of our Norwich City season reviewThe ACN Live event will be the first of the group's new plans to be put into place - but they are hoping to do more, with positivity in the stands likely to be so important as Daniel Farke's team climb their Premier League mountain.
"We'd like to do more," Lawn concluded. "We'd like it to be a bit bigger in terms of the displays that we are doing, a bit more complicated as well. There's obviously a limit in terms of the ground safety regulations, so there's always a back and forth with the club about what we can do.
"One of the things we had wanted to do this season was yellow and green streamers coming off the upper Barclay, we thought that would look really cool, but there were concerns that the bar at the front of the upper Barclay isn't high enough, so if someone leaned over, they might fall off, which is a reasonable concern.
"So there's a lot of stuff where we think it would be great but then it just isn't feasible. It's always kind of in development, but we've definitely got plans for more stuff like you'd see in German football. So, big displays, bigger flags and more flags."
- Tickets for the event will be sent out via email, head to AlongComeNorwich.com for full details