A message to the killjoys: Don't rain on our parade
PUBLISHED: 12:56 22 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:56 02 July 2010
How many trophies have Norwich City won in more than a century since the club was formed? And we're not talking about the Willhire Cup here . . . The answer is six.
How many trophies have Norwich City won in more than a century since the club was formed? And we're not talking about the Willhire Cup here . . .
The answer is six. That's six in 108 years, to be precise, soon to be seven. It is in no sense a criticism - many clubs would like to have won half as many - but it is worth remembering as the debate goes on over whether the Canaries should stage some kind of public celebration for winning the League One title, a task they will complete when they collect their next point or, failing that, when Leeds United next fail to win.
The first trophy of any national importance to come City's way, back in 1934, was not really a cup at all, but the massive shield presented to the winners of Division Three South, now housed in the National Football Museum at Preston and looking a little the worse for wear.
Next came the original Football League Cup won by Norwich in 1962, in the second season in which the competition was run.
The Division Two championship trophy presented to City skipper Duncan Forbes on City Hall balcony 10 years later was the third item of silverware to find its way to Carrow Road.
Then, more than a decade later, in successive seasons during Ken Brown's reign as manager, the Canaries had a trophy to parade before their fans.
First came the Milk Cup in 1985, an object of no great beauty that briefly replaced the original League Cup during the Milk Marketing Board's sponsorship of the competition.
Then, the following year, City were presented with something even less pleasing on the eye - the Canon League Division Two trophy - for becoming champions.
There was then an 18-year wait before Nigel Worthington's 2003-04 team won the most famous piece of silverware yet to bear Norwich City's name, the Football League championship trophy. Made in 1890, it was held in pre-Premier League days by some of the game's legendary teams, such as the Arsenal side of the 1930s, the Busby Babes, Tottenham's Double winners and the Liverpool teams that won 11 titles in 18 seasons from 1972-73 onwards.
There have been three other promotion campaigns, in 1959-60, 1974-75, 1981-82, but with the Canaries finishing second, third and third in their respective divisions in those seasons, there was no cup to put on show.
Now we await the arrival of the Coca-Cola League One trophy, and it seems opinion is divided over how far City should go in celebrating the achievement of manager Paul Lambert and his team.
There is a school of thought that the Canaries should not make a song and dance out of winning the “third division” because it would be seen as symptomatic of having limited ambition - the “little old Norwich” mentality.
True, the club should certainly not have fallen into the third tier of English football for the first time in half a century and much of the damage was self-inflicted.
But celebrating a return to the Championship does not have to be seen as a sign that you are content to go no higher.
Of course it is not on a par with reaching the Premier League, but surely Norwich City Football Club is not so grand that we can afford to be dismissive about winning the League One title.
It is still a very significant achievement for Lambert, his coaching team and the players to bounce back into the Championship at the first attempt, a feat that has proved beyond clubs such as Nottingham Forest, Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday and now, probably, Southampton.
To be promoted with three games to spare and a nine-point lead, after such a disastrous start to the season, is a near miracle that is well worthy of celebration.
Whether an open top bus tour is appropriate is debatable - one certainly would not have wished to see the Johnstone's Paint Trophy paraded in such a fashion - but this is a league title we are talking about and City owe it to the players and supporters to stage some kind of public acknowledgement of their efforts beyond merely presenting the trophy at the last home game and doing a lap of honour.
If League One is important enough for nearly 25,000 people to turn up at every home match at Carrow Road and for 3,000 to travel to Huddersfield, Swindon, Leyton Orient and Charlton - thousands more would have gone to those games had additional tickets been available - then it is important enough to celebrate winning it.
And for many of the players responsible, this promotion season and winning the title represents the biggest achievement of their careers.
Michael Nelson, whose goal clinched promotion at Charlton on Saturday, admitted as much several weeks ago, and 30-goal top scorer Grant Holt has played very little Championship football.
Other key players such as Gary Doherty and Darel Russell have served City with distinction without previously winning a trophy. And for youngsters who have come through the Academy ranks such as Chris Martin, Korey Smith, Michael Spillane and Declan Rudd, promotion ranks as the biggest moment of their careers to date.
We can argue that City ought to be playing above League One level and, thankfully, in the end they proved far too good for the rest of the division.
But a seventh trophy in 108 years? It's not exactly an everyday occurrence, so let's enjoy it while we can.