Farewell, Ed Balls – last in the line of some distinguished Norwich City chairmen
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Norwich City has had its fair share of high-profile faces in its boardroom – but outgoing Ed Balls stands apart.
Delia Smith, celebrity chef, and Stephen Fry, Lord Melchett amongst many other characters, are household names.
But how many chairmen or directors of any football club have, voluntarily, been shot in the backside by a Taser gun? Or performed Gangnam Style on Strictly Come Dancing? Or accidentally created their own ‘day’ (Ed Balls Day is April 28 if you need to know) on Twitter after a mistaken post?
Now, Balls is to leave his role as Norwich City chairman and as a director, the former Labour MP citing his TV commitments as the reason, although he will become a club ambassador and vice-president.
“I have got quite a lot of filming commitm
ents in the first six months of the new year, in different parts of the world, and three years is quite a long time to do this type of job,” said the 51-year-old, whose final day ‘in the chair’ was the Boxing Day game against Nottingham Forest – the third anniversary of accepting the position.
With a new management structure in place it means – for the time being at least – Norwich City will operate without a chairman.
Anyone who watched his epic Travels in Trumpland – which included the Taser incident – will know City loss is TV’s gain.
His love of the football club has been well-known and his three-year stint saw him follow in some illustrious footsteps...
Geoffrey Watling 1957-1973 and 1996
Norwich were in an awful state in 1956–57, with massive financial problems. A new board, with Watling at the helm, created an appeal fund which raised more than £20,000 to save it. Has a stand at the ground named after him – will be indelibly linked with the club, and its existence today.
Sir Arthur South 1973 - 1985
Was chairman when John Bond and then Ken Brown were managers. However, after the building of a new City Stand in 1985 the entire board resigned and Sir Arthur was replaced. A larger-than-life character who was also a prominent Norfolk politician and Lord Mayor of Norwich in 1956.
Robert Chase 1985-1996
Controversial figure whose reign had some very good times – three top-five finishes in the top flight and European football – and some bad days, including what many saw as the selling of the club’s crown jewels, like Chris Sutton. No other chairman had forced angry fans on to the street outside Carrow Road in protest, with mounted police clashing with supporters. Chase left... and the Delia Smith era began, with Geoffrey Watling taking over as chairman for a short time in 1996.
Bob Cooper 1998-2002
A friend of Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones, Cooper – formerly a main board director of Sainsbury, sold Craig Bellamy to fund an overhaul of the club. Was chairman in 2002 when City lost a play-off final to Birmingham. On his departure he said: “The club is financially much healthier and this year will show, for the first time in many years, a healthy financial result achieved without the need to sell players and with no overdraft at the end of the year.”
Roger Munby 2002-2009
Quietly spoken, he had been a director since 1996. A former marketing director at Colman’s in Norwich, Munby left along with chief executive Neil Doncaster in 2009 as the owners ushered in a new regime.
Alan Bowkett 2009-2015
High-profile businessman who played a major part, along with chief executive David McNally, in digging City out of a massive financial black hole which could have brought the club down. During his City had four seasons in the Premier League, three promotions, a successful Wembley final – and became debt-free.