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Singing like Canaries: old song gets new lease of life

PUBLISHED: 15:41 18 November 2010

Recording the new version of The Canaries song. Photo: Bill Smith

Recording the new version of The Canaries song. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2010

It is a song well known to most Norwich City fans and now it has been given a new lease of life in memory of one of the club's greatest supporters.

The Canaries, sung by the City squad and backed by The Chic Applin Band, was originally released in 1972 to mark the club’s Second Division championship victory and promotion to the top flight of English football.

The song, recorded at the Norwood Rooms, now Mecca Bingo on Aylsham Road, where Mr Applin was musical director, was a local hit and is still regularly played at Carrow Road, 38 years on.

The original featured the vocal talents of City greats including Duncan Forbes, Kevin Keelanand Dave Stringer, but now a new version has been recorded by fans to raise money for charity and in memory of BBC Radio Norfolk broadcaster Roy Waller, who commentated on Norwich City matches for many years and died in July.

The new recording was the idea of Nick Applin, son of bandleader Chic, and came about after he met Paul Dickson, lead singer of local band The O’Fenders.

“Norwich had just been promoted back to the Championship and it got me thinking about when we got promoted in 1972. I’ve still got the old song from back then, signed by all the players,” said Mr Applin, 46, of Strumpshaw, near Norwich.

“I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if we could re-record it?’ Then Roy Waller died and I thought it would be nice if we could raise some money for charity.”

Proceeds from the song, which will be available on CD and to download, will be shared between The Foundation for Liver Research, Football in the Community and Mancroft Advice Project.

Mr Dickson, who lives in central Norwich, said: “Nick happened to mention that he would love to re-release the song for charity. I said ‘Why don’t we look at re-recording a new version for 2010? I know a band!’”

The O’Fenders recorded a new backing track for the song at the BBC Voices studio in the Forum. Vocals, led by Mr Dickson, 55, were added later, with members of his band, Radio Norfolk’s sports team and Michael Bailey and Pete Raven of the Evening News and Pink ‘Un joining in on the chorus.

Also singing was Johnny Cleveland, who recalled how he co-wrote the song with the late Don Shepherd one evening back in 1972.

Mr Cleveland, 67, of Woodland Road, Hellesdon, said: “It looked as though Norwich were going to be promoted and Don said ‘What about a song?’ Chic thought it was a good idea.

“Then we went to the manager Ron Saunders, who was quite formidable and didn’t take any prisoners. He listened and his first remark was ‘How much do we earn out of it?’

“All the team turned up one Sunday morning and we sang it. They were great. It was not meant to be a professional choir; it was just meant to be the lads. It was one of the early football songs: Spurs had Nice One, Cyril and there was Blue is the Colour, but not many others.

“I’m over the moon about this. I’ve spoken to Don’s widow Vera and she’s delighted, too, and hopes the project raises a lot of money.”

Chic Applin died in 1980, but his widow Jill was at the recording session.

“It’s absolutely fantastic. It’s quite emotional and wonderful that they are doing this for such a good cause,” said Mrs Applin, 70, of Thorpe St Andrew.

“Chic would be absolutely chuffed. He did such a lot of good for young people in Norwich and liked to help people in their music. I’m getting goose pimples - I’m sure he’s around now.”

Do you have a story for the Evening News? Call reporter Jon Welch on 01603 772476 or email jon.welch@archant.co.uk

The Canaries (Don Shepherd / Johnny Cleveland)

We’re the football team in the yellow and green

Norwich City is our name

We will play it fair as the fans all cheer

As we march on the road to fame

Chorus

The Canaries, the Canaries

Let the name ring loud and clear

And we’ll keep right on with the Norwich song

The Canaries is the name

Here at Carrow Road, we are in the mood

We will never admit defeat

How we love to hear when the fans all cheer

As we march on to victory

Chorus

Instrumental

Chorus

So let’s hear the crowd, sing the anthem loud

Now we’ve made club history

See the boys and Ron in Division One

Now we’ve won our victory

Chorus

Chorus

The Canaries original 1972 recording

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