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What a difference a year makes for Canaries' fan Ben

PUBLISHED: 13:00 19 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:50 02 July 2010

Ben Willgress has something to celebrate after the Canaries won promotion.

Ben Willgress has something to celebrate after the Canaries won promotion.

Sarah Hall

What a difference a year makes. A little over a year ago our photographer at Charlton's home ground caught this heartbreaking image of young Canaries' fan Ben Willgress with his head in his hands, barely able to bring himself to watch his Norwich City heroes.

Ben Willgress on the terraces at Charlton last season - when Norwich were relegated.

What a difference a year makes. A little over a year ago our photographer at Charlton's home ground caught this heartbreaking image of young Canaries' fan Ben Willgress with his head in his hands, barely able to bring himself to watch his Norwich City heroes.

It was May last year when Bryan Gunn's team capitulated in a 4-2 defeat, which signalled their relegation to League One.

But at the weekend, Ben was back at The Valley to see the Canaries secure promotion to the Championship and banish the demons from last season.

And his smiling face, following the 1-0 victory over Charlton, reflects a remarkable turnaround at Carrow Road.

Ben has no need to watch from behind his fingers after the Canaries secured promotion.

Ben, 16, who lives in Acle, said: “I have had the mickey taken out of me so much because of that photograph. I had an orange plastic watch on and my teachers have gone on about the state of my fingernails!

“It was awful at Charlton last year, but this weekend it was brilliant. The atmosphere couldn't have been more different to last time we were there.

“There were fans throwing their shirts about and people were going up to people they didn't know and hugging them. I even got a hug from my PE teacher, who is a mad keen Norwich City fan.

“Driving back to Norfolk afterwards seemed to take about an hour, when last time it felt more like six.”

The Acle High School pupil, who has a season ticket in the Barclay End, said: “I have been to pretty much every away match this season, including to Walsall twice.

“I started going in 2005 and, although I saw the open top bus last time when they got promoted last time I didn't really know what was going on, so I hope they do it this year.

“This season has been the best I have had and I can't believe that's the case after we lost 7-1 in the first game. That was my first match in the Barclay and it was awful to have the away fans singing at us like that.

“To turn it around has been great and Paul Lambert has been brilliant. After the Charlton game we were singing at him and he pointed to himself and shook his head. He pointed at his players and nodded to say he hadn't won it - it was them. But he's turned it around.”

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