April 16 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
When Norwich City FC played Manchester United on Saturday there was no one cheering their team on louder than Vera Brighton.
The die hard Canaries fan watched the match at home in Annandale Drive in Beccles while she celebrated her 100th birthday surrounded by family and friends.
She has followed the club for more than 80 years and has watched thousands of matches in that time.
Mrs Brighton is believed to be the Canaries’ oldest supporter and, along with the customary card from the Queen, she also received a birthday card signed by all the Norwich City players.
Her 100th birthday was also reported in the Carrow News section of Saturday’s match programme.
Mrs Brighton had hoped her team would win on her birthday but unfortunately the Canaries lost 0-1 to Manchester United at home.
She said: “They played well anyway. They probably deserved at least a draw.”
Mrs Brighton attended her first Norwich City game with her brothers when she was a teenager during the 1920s.
The club was still based at its former home - a disused chalk pit dubbed The Nest, in Rosary Road - and Mrs Brighton remembers the crowd was much smaller compared to the 26,000 spectators that regularly fill the Canaries’ Carrow Road ground today.
Mrs Brighton went on to attend almost every home game over the next 60 years until she reluctantly gave up her season ticket when she was 76 and no longer fit enough to attend.
She now keeps up with every kick from the comfort of her arm chair but admits that she still shouts at the players on the television as if she were back on the terraces.
She said: “I tell them what to do when they are doing it wrong and tell the referee what I think of them.
“I would love to still be able to go to games. I can’t get up the steps and can’t sit down all that while, not on those seats anyway.”
Mrs Brighton was born in Beccles on December 28, 1913. Her parents ran Neech’s wet fish shop in Blyburgate.
She attended Ravensmere School and the National School in Beccles before winning a scholarship to Sir John Leman High School in Beccles.
However, her education was cut short when her mother died when she was 14. Mrs Brighton left school to help raise her four brothers Jack, Roy, Maurice and Peter, and work in the family’s shop.
She married her husband George in 1936 and together they ran Brighton’s of Blyburgate fish and chip shop in Beccles for 23 years.
Mrs Brighton would take Saturday afternoon’s off from the shop to watch Canaries games.
She said that, if her team lost, she would return home to find her husband George - an Ipswich supporter - had hung a white flag of surrender outside the business to tease his wife.
The fish and chip shop’s customers included Ipswich and Norwich fans and over the years they pinned notes to the wall insulting each other’s teams.
One day, Mrs Brighton decided to put an end to the practice and replaced the notes with a message of her own.
It read: “Enough. Enough. You have had your say. Now go and watch your two teams play. I know they are paid to entertain. So if they don’t then just complain. Our walls are full. We have heard your quips. Sorry lads. You have had your chips.”
Mrs Brighton said she loved everything about Norwich City and had happy memories of supporting the team.
She added: “My favourite player of all time for Norwich was Martin Peters. He was a good player and was definitely handsome. He had to be for you to have a crush on him.
“I have happy memories of when we played Liverpool and Justin Fashanu scored against them. That was wonderful.”
Mrs Brighton has passed on her passion for Norwich City to her only child Colin, 77, who is a season ticket holder and regularly attends games with his wife Sally, 73, and their children Jonathan and Sarah.
She said the secret to living a long and happy life was eating fish every day.
“It has definitely kept my brain young,” she said. “My body is wearing out but I will put up with that as long as I keep alert.
“I think having a wonderful family helped too. And good friends and neighbours.”