On The Ball, Arsenal? Why there are so many Gooners in Norwich

Seven members of the Norfolk Arsenal Supporters Club playing in a seven-a-side supporters club tournament at the Emirates.

Members of the Norfolk Arsenal Supporters Club at the Emirates. - Credit: Mark Scarfe

While many in Norwich will be cheering on Daniel Farke's team this weekend, there are plenty of footie fans in the city who have their fingers crossed for the opposition. 

There is a large contingent of Arsenal fans in Norwich who will be hoping Mikel Arteta's side overcome the Canaries when the two sides meet at the Emirates on Saturday afternoon. 

This includes the Norfolk Arsenal Supporters Club with 40 fans getting a coach from Norwich to North London for the game, setting off outside John Lewis before stopping off at Newmarket Road, Attleborough and Thetford for collections on the way. 

A press cutting from the Norwich Evening News in July 1999 showing the charity efforts of the Norfolk Arsenal Supporters Club

A press cutting from the Norwich Evening News in July 1999 showing the charity efforts of the Norfolk Arsenal Supporters Club - Credit: Contributed

Mark Scarfe, 58, set up the club in 1991 after putting a classified advert in the Evening News

After setting up 12 chairs in the former Duke of Connaught pub at the time, Mr Scarfe was surprised to see 73 Gunners turn up. 

The club now has around 300 members across the county with approximately 70 of those live in the city.

At its peak a membership limit had to be set at 500 people as it was becoming difficult to administer, such was the demand.

Mr Scarfe said: "I was born in Costessey so I am a Norwich lad. I used to go to Carrow Road with my friends when I was a boy but I never was a fan. 

Norfolk Arsenal Supporters Club secretary and honorary president Mark Scarfe with his family at the Emirates Stadium 

Norfolk Arsenal Supporters Club secretary and honorary president Mark Scarfe with his family at the Emirates Stadium - Credit: Mark Scarfe

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"I have stood in the away end at Carrow Road when Arsenal played then had to be frogmarched to the station by police afterwards. I would have to duck out so I could get home.

"I can only speak for myself but when I was young the red and white shirts did it for me.

"A lot of the younger generation are influenced by the team being fantastic in recent years with the Arsene Wenger era." 

Among those who were influenced by the 'Invincibles' Arsenal side of the noughties were current Norwich players Todd Cantwell and Adam Idah who both named Thierry Henry as their all-time favourite footballer. 

Todd Cantwell of Norwich celebrates scoring his sides 2nd goal during the Premier League match at Ca

Todd Cantwell was an Arsenal fan growing up - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Cantwell also used to travel on the coach with the Norfolk supporter's club to Arsenal games as a boy. 

Another Arsenal fan who followed in his dad's footsteps and grew up with Wenger's side is Jahi Bingham, 26, who works at Saint Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic School in Norwich. 

Jahi Bingham, an Arsenal fan in Norfolk

Jahi Bingham, an Arsenal fan in Norfolk - Credit: Contributed

He said: "I would say the demographic helps a bit being fairly close to London and the overspill of people in Norwich.

"The reason my Dad supported Arsenal was they had a lot of black players when he was growing up and he brought that passion to me.

Arsene Wenger brought success to Arsenal with the signing of players like French international striker Thierry Henry

Arsene Wenger brought success to Arsenal with the signing of players like French international striker Thierry Henry - Credit: PA

"Norwich was never an option for me. None of my immediate family come from Norwich. I like the culture of Arsenal which is a bit different compared to other clubs.

"The culture has always been massive for me." 

  • Gunners fans' score predictions:

Mark Scarfe: Arsenal 2, Norwich 2 

I would normally look forward to Arsenal winning by three or four against Norwich but the club is in some disarray at the moment. 

I would not be surprised if Norwich were to nick a win. 

Jahi Bingham: Arsenal 3, Norwich 1 

This is a genuine six-point relegation scrap. Where we are in the table is reflective of how we are playing. 

We all know how toxic the Emirates can be. If we go a goal down early on the fans will turn on the team and there will be booing at half-time.

  • What's happened when Norwich has played Arsenal in the past?

1. Arsenal 2 Norwich 4, August 15 1992, Highbury 

The opening weekend of the inaugural Premier League and the first match for Mike Walker as Norwich manager proved to be a memorable one as City turned the game on its head having been 2-0 down at half-time.

Mark Robins was the hero with two goals as the way side overcame on the pre-season favourites for the title.

Mark Robins

Mark Robins - a two-goal hero in Norwich City's first ever Premier League game, at Arsenal - Credit: Archant

2. Arsenal 3 Norwich 3, May 5, 2012, Emirates Stadium

Steve Morison's late equaliser earned Norwich an unlikely draw as Canaries boss Paul Lambert praised his team's "outstanding effort" on the day. 

Norwich led 2-1 at half-time thanks to Grant Holt and Wes Hoolahan before Morison salvaged a point in the 85th minute. 

Steve Morison of Norwich scores against Arsenal

Steve Morison reacts after making it 3-3 at The Emirates in May 2012 - the last time Norwich City brought a point home from Arsenal - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

3. Norwich 1 Arsenal 0, October 20, 2012, Carrow Road 

Grant Holt reacted quickest to tuck home the only goal of the game in the 19th minute at the Barclay end after Alex Tettey's long-range effort had been parried by Gunners keeper Vito Mannone. 

Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 64026720/10/2012Grant Holt of Norwich wheel

Victory over Arsenal at Carrow Road in October 2012, as Grant Holt wheels away to celebrate the Canaries' winner - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

A day to forget for Arsene Wenger as Carrow Road was bouncing with the first league win of the season under Chris Hughton. 

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