Di Cunningham: Time for Norwich City to get ugly?

Norwich City against Crystal Palace - Captain Canary
Photo: Bill Smith
Copy: Sport
For: Sport

Is it time for Norwich City to get a new 'uglier' sidekick alongside Captain Canary? - Credit: Archant © 2008

As it seems almost inevitable now that Norwich City’s delightfully crafted style of play will grace the country’s Premier League pitches next season I’m wondering if we could do with a touch of ugliness about us - to reinvent the Canaries’ ‘nice’ image. 

I’m not talking Roy Keane tackles or Joey Barton stares. The way City play, on the occasions the ball is lost we can rely on a clinical interception from Lukas Rupp or Oliver Skipp, Ben Gibson or Grant Hanley. 

It’s almost as exquisite to see as the fast-flowing possession football their work unleashes; so no changes in the game please. But off the pitch - why not? 

Since lockdown Norfolk Museums have offered virtual tours - including of the Museum of Norwich. Head upstairs and next to the scale model of the Rosary Road ‘Nest’ you’ll encounter The Norfolk Canary; the club mascot back in the 1930s.  

The pointy-beaked, cigar smoking giant in morning coat and yellow top hat would look at home in a Wes Craven or David Lynch movie - he’d probably unnerve our own players so I’m not advocating the return of this sinister character.  

But an edgy mascot figure can generate a feisty atmosphere - as Partick Thistle’s Kingsley has shown. Designed by Turner Prize nominated artist David Shrigley, Kingsley has been described by fans as Lisa Simpson on meth - but now has a devoted following with home supporters while generating good natured antagonism in the away stands. And year after year the pointy yellow prickle wins the UK vote for best club mascot. 

The Norfolk Canary’s replacement in the 40s and 50s could give Kingsley some healthy competition. The Norfolk Dumpling mascot was a grotesque gray blob - not unlike a round, monochrome SpongeBob SquarePants. The Dumpling would be sure to unsettle the opposition and their fans, but as an icon of the club’s history would likely inspire and enthuse the rest of us.  

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The link to a regional delicacy is neat too - and how apt would a culinary mascot at a club with Delia Smith on its board?  

Throughout the world the vast majority of sporting mascots are animals (and a number of other football teams; FC Nantes, UD Las Palmas, Brazil’s Ypiranga and of course Fenerbahce, all have canaries).  

But mascots based on foodstuffs? Few and far between but some hilarious examples: Spain’s CD Leganés has Super Pepino the Cucumber, Ehinnne FC in Japan’s J2 league has a trio of angry tangerines while for the K League’s Jeju United its two oranges. Closer to home, Wigan have Crusty the Pie and Forfar Athletic Baxter the Bridie (a giant pastie) to gee up the home crowd.  

So when it’s time for football’s cartoonish costumed characters to come back from ‘Fur Low’ (sorry but it was too good/bad to miss!) perhaps the Captain needs a tougher side kick? And why not have the snack on offer in the concourse concessions too?  

I was recently asked to give my ‘Opposition Visitor’s View’ for the Forest matchday programme and one of the questions was what do we Norwich folks call a bacon roll (a bacon roll obv!).  

My interviewer Scott told me that as well as ‘roll’ and the standard ‘bap’ and ‘cob’ replies from supporters around the country he’d also had ‘baguette’ as an answer. That’s QPR fans for you!   

I did think at the time that bacon dumplings might have a niche appeal for NCFC fans with a pint or cuppa at half time?  

The campaign for the return of the Norfolk Dumpling to Carrow Road starts here. 

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