Title buzz still fuelling Norwich City fans during fun of pre-season
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Whether by road, sea, air or rail, there’s just no stopping some Norwich City fans from watching their team in action, wherever they may be.
As the bratwurst sausages sizzled and some local beverages were poured, the buzz of last season's Championship title success was still swirling around the yellow and green shirts outside the 12,500 capacity Energieversum Stadion.
Around 100 Canaries fans may have been outnumbered by the local Arminia Bielefeld faithful in a crowd of over 2,300 as the Bundesliga II side held the tourists to a 2-2 draw - but it was the English making the noise.
Among them was Lil Kemp, from Norwich, well known to City supporters from being voted Fan of the Season in 2018.
"I came last year as well and I enjoy it, absolutely fantastic, I go to all the away matches back home anyway," said Lil, proudly wearing her new home shirt with 'Pukki' on the back. "This is my second tour but I went on pre-season many years ago and away when we were in Europe.
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"I think we'll stay in there (the Premier League) this year because we've got a good manager, a good team, they were absolutely fantastic last season.
"Last season I was the Fan of the Season so I really enjoyed it and I didn't miss one match, not through illness or anything, I was lucky and I'm hoping to do the same this season - and I shall be 90 next year!"
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Also enjoying a beer was Billy Pointer, also from Norwich, who also enjoyed pre-season in Germany last year.
"I went last year and loved it so thought I'd do it again, I'd go wherever they went because it's different, another ground ticked off!" he said.
"I'm very excited, I've never gone into a season feeling more positive than this before, we've got a team where it's like, what could happen? It's really good that they're bringing the under-23s through as well and thinking two or three years ahead."
One supporter wearing their Norwich shirt particularly proudly was Oxana Beletzki, who we soon found out was the mother of City midfielder Tom Trybull's wife, Anna.
With the help of friend Niels Haupt as translator, Trybull's mother-in-law told us: "They go to each match when it is in Germany and they are looking forward to the matches.
"They're on cloud nine and they wish all the success to remain in the Premier League and all the best to Norwich City."
There were more locals interested in Daniel Farke's team as well, including Simon Wilson, who has settled in Hannover after being based in Germany with the British Army.
"I love it when they're over here, my first one was when Paul Lambert was in charge and I've carried it on ever since then," he explained. "I get back once a year, usually go home for Christmas, so hopefully I can get a ticket when I'm back.
"They're not really that known at the moment, a lot of my German friends don't really know how Norwich City are, we're more famous for beating Bayern Munich back in the day. So now it's the Premier League and there's definitely more interest.
"I think we'll surprise a lot of teams, they don't know how we play. As long as we get 17th I'm happy but we could even do better."
Uwe Bell, from Cologne, is a member of the German Canaries supporter group and has been following the club's fortunes since visiting Norwich in the early 1990s, who said: "I couldn't imagine there being such a (German) influence then, not even five years ago could I have."
Of the new season, he added: "What I really like is that, I hope, we are not doing the failures that Fulham did or probably Aston Villa are doing now.
"We're staying with our tried and tested squad, I really like that the players who just achieved this got some reward and can prove this in the Premier League, so I'm quite confident."
Barry Hayward, from Bury St Edmunds, is a pre-season regular and still thrilled with last season's success.
"It was a real big surprise and probably the best season I've had and I've seen a few seasons," he joked.
"I'm not nervous actually (about the Premier League), I thought I would be, but I probably will be when we go to Anfield in a few weeks' time.
"We've played our best football, the club is in the best shape it's ever been and the club and the fans are united now, they're together and that makes a big, big difference.
"I think we'll do it our way and we'll surprise a few people."
Neville Townsend, from the Forces 2 Canaries supporter group, is also feeling hopeful.
"I think we're going to surprise a few people," he said. "We'll do better than a lot of people are giving us credit for but at the end of the day as long as we don't get relegated, that's the main thing.
"I'm happy with what we've got now to be fair and all these contracts that we've given to the players I think is brilliant, rewarding the guys that got us there, and we've got some class players.
"Last season was the best season ever for me and I'm an old dude!
"So it's going to be difficult for us to top, how can you top us being promoted top and Ipswich being relegated, can you?! Can we do a Leicester?"
Gary Riches, from Elmswell, near Bury St Edmunds, was based in Germany with the British Army between 1984 and 1987 so enjoyed his first return for pre-season two years ago and is feeling full of positivity.
"Last season was easily the best season I've season for a long, long time, if not ever," the City season ticket holder said.
"I don't know how we'll get on, there's a lot of players to be proven, but I've never seen so much quality in our team!"