Norwich City out to end their first-day hoodoo

David Cuffley Paul Lambert's record-breaking Norwich City side will clear a more modest hurdle if they beat Watford in Friday's Championship opener - just by making a winning start to the season.

David Cuffley

Paul Lambert's record-breaking Norwich City side will clear a more modest hurdle if they beat Watford in Friday's Championship opener - just by making a winning start to the season.

Not since 2002 have the Canaries won their first league fixture of the new campaign, but last season's League One champions are odds-on favourites with the bookmakers to overcome the Hornets in the televised game at Carrow Road (7.45pm).

Eight years ago, a City side that included Adam Drury and current Academy assistant manager Gary Holt kicked off their Nationwide League Division One programme with a resounding 4-0 home win over Grimsby Town on the opening day.


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Malky Mackay, who will be in charge of Watford on Friday night, was - coincidentally - with the Canaries at the time but missed the opening three games of 2002-03 through injury.

The seven seasons since then have brought City fans little cheer on the opening day, however, with four draws and three defeats, most notoriously the 7-1 hammering inflicted by Lambert's Colchester before he switched clubs.

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This time Lambert, who will be 41 on Saturday, will be hoping for an early birthday present with another Carrow Road win.

The TV switch has guaranteed a high profile for City as they return to the Championship with the honour of staging the very first Football League fixture of the season and the chance to be the first club in the country to put three points on the board.

Back in 2002, continuity was the key as Nigel Worthington's team made a winning start by fielding 12 of the 14 players involved in the play-off final at Cardiff three months earlier.

This time, however, it is all change and Lambert could field as many as six of his seven summer signings against Watford.

Lambert's team set new club records on their way to winning League One, including the highest points total, most league wins and most consecutive home league wins - 11 - in a single season.

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