Canaries fanatic publishes children's book inspired by Norwich City

Former primary school teacher Rex Barker with his children's book, On The Ball Billy, inspired by No

Former primary school teacher Rex Barker with his children's book, On The Ball Billy, inspired by Norwich City FC - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

A retired Norwich primary school teacher has been inspired to publish a new children's book based on his numerous visits to Carrow Road.

Rex Barker, 65, has released On The Ball Billy, a children's book about a schoolchild called Billy who is consumed by the love of all things football, including sticker collecting. 

The book was originally written several years ago while Mr Barker was still teaching, but having retired, he has been able to spend time revising and illustrating the work. 

Former primary school teacher Rex Barker with his children's book, On The Ball Billy, inspired by No

Former primary school teacher Rex Barker with his children's book, On The Ball Billy - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Mr Barker spent 30 years teaching at Blackdale Middle School and coached junior aged football teams at Cringleford Primary and what is now called St Francis of Assisi Primary. 

Although his new book is fiction, it is inspired by people and places he is familiar with, including Carrow Road. 


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Mr Barker said: "My son was always very obsessed with collecting football stickers and there are lots of nods and winks in the direction of Norwich City FC. I actually called my son Billy as a nickname but his actual name is Harry. 

"Norwich signing a new player called Billy [Gilmour] was purely coincidental as I had the detail years ago."

Rex Barker with his daughter Georgia enjoying a Norwich City game at Carrow Road in the past

Rex Barker with his daughter Georgia enjoying a Norwich City game at Carrow Road in the past - Credit: Contributed

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On The Ball Billy tells the story of a new kid at school who is a bit of a daydreamer and finds himself in a place of deep gloom. His love of football may prove a way out for him however. 

The title was inspired by the famous Norwich City terrace chant with Mr Barker first visiting Carrow Road in 1990 after his family moved to the city from southeast London.

Billy Playford, the main character of Rex Barker's book On The Ball Billy 

Billy Playford, the main character of Rex Barker's book On The Ball Billy - Credit: Contributed

Mr Barker, who was originally born just outside Norwich, has been a season ticket holder for the past decade and watches matches with his daughter Georgia. 

Children's book On The Ball Billy by Rex Barker. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Children's book On The Ball Billy by Rex Barker - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

"My first match with my seven-year-old son and his grandfather in April 1994 to watch Norwich play Spurs," Mr Barker said.

"I remember Mark Robins scoring a goal at the Barclay end and Chris Sutton having his penalty saved by Ian Walker in goal." 

Rex Barker, pictured with his daughter Georgia, has been a season ticket holder at Carrow Road for 10 years

Rex Barker, pictured with his daughter Georgia, has been a season ticket holder at Carrow Road for 10 years - Credit: Contributed

On The Ball Billy is available in paperback and ebook format and can be found on Amazon. 

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