Former Norwich City chairman delighted by title success
Michael Bailey Former chairman Roger Munby is glad Norwich City have rediscovered their 'togetherness', a year to the day after some fans were at their lowest ebb. Munby and chief executive Neil Doncaster had already stepped down by the time, on May 13 last year, Bryan Gunn was confirmed as the Canaries' permanent manager despite overseeing the club's fall into the third tier of English football for the first time in nearly 50 years.
Former chairman Roger Munby is glad Norwich City have rediscovered their “togetherness”, a year to the day after some fans were at their lowest ebb.
Munby and chief executive Neil Doncaster had already stepped down by the time, on May 13 last year, Bryan Gunn was confirmed as the Canaries' permanent manager despite overseeing the club's fall into the third tier of English football for the first time in nearly 50 years.
That decision by majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones, along with fellow director Michael Foulger, saw supporters issue a vote of no confidence in the club's board at a St Andrews Hall supporters' forum the following evening.
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Exactly 12 months on, with the appointments of David McNally and Alan Bowkett as chief executive and chairman respectively - plus the pivotal arrival of manager Paul Lambert in August - City are back in the Championship with the club's title-winning heroes preparing for this evening's civic reception and open top bus parade through the city centre.
Munby said: “It is absolutely fantastic. It's been a fabulous reward for a very loyal and terrific set of supporters who have an excellent manager to admire, as well as a concerted team effort. It's been a reinstatement of togetherness.
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“There were one or two parsimonious comments that suggested because it is only League One we wouldn't be entitled to celebrate in a fulsome way, which is patently a nonsense. The way the crowd has reacted and driven on in numbers is proof I think of the intensity Norwich City represents as a community icon.”
Hindsight appears to prove Doncaster and Munby were right to step aside following City's relegation at Charlton on the final day of the 2008-09 campaign - although Munby will leave such assertions to others.
“It's for others to comment on that,” said Munby. “What is on the record is that, coincidentally, I was really quite ill and shortly after stepping down from the club I had the first of three episodes in hospital the following six months. But that's a personal overlay.
“For those that are able to see the big picture and take the longer view - I'll count Delia, Michael and Michael in that group of people - I think this season has been just reward for hanging in there and believing that good will emerge from indifference, and it certainly has on the playing front.”
Munby, who has been at every home game this season, admitted feeling sorry for the way things worked out for Gunn after the City legend was sacked on the back of the humiliating 7-1 opening day defeat to Colchester.
Munby said: “You choose to lie in a bed and you take the consequences, but in that sense there is no one of greater integrity or willingness to win than Bryan. He remains as always a most admirable human being.
“As a man, as a highly personable and engaging human being, I thought it was extremely disappointing but circumstances prevail. I can't say more than that.”
Football can be a cruel business - meaning days such as this evening's celebrations have to be enjoyed, and Munby will be there on Castle Mound tonight with the rest of the club's staff and officials.
“I was absolutely thrilled to be offered and accept the position of life vice-president, which binds me to the club in a most joyful way,” said Munby, on his departure last summer.
“I have to say watching football has resumed a sense of pleasure and joy in an unincumbent way - I feel I've earned that after 13 years on the board and seven as chairman, which is a fair old stint and one that proved very taxing in the end.
But I can enjoy football and it has been a joy to watch this season of course.”
Former chief Doncaster, pictured, also expressed his happiness at seeing Norwich back - and closer - to where they should be.
“I'm absolutely delighted for Delia and Michael, and the Foulger family, all of whom have worked so hard and put so much of their money into the club over so many years,” said Doncaster, currently Scottish Premier League chief executive following his 12-year association with City.
“I'm delighted for all Norwich City supporters and look forward to seeing the club make further progress next season in the Championship.”