Roy of the Canaries... the story of City's greatest fan
PUBLISHED: 10:55 17 March 2018
Norwich City has some of the most loyal football fans in the land, but there is one who is a much-loved living legend and is celebrating 70 years cheering on the Canaries. Derek James pays tribute to Roy Blower.
There is normally a small queue of people waiting to talk to and shake hands with a grey-haired gentleman sitting in a wheelchair at a vantage point in Carrow Road where he can watch the action through a window.
They may want to talk football with him, chat over the people and places of Norfolk, have a natter about life in general, or share jokes with the man who can really be called “Mr Norwich.”
Roy Blower is a man who has devoted much of his life not just to the football club but to the well-being of the city, the county, and its people he loves with such a passion.
Today Roy, who was taken to watch his first match at Carrow Road in 1948, is living with Parkinson’s. He stood on a box to see his first game and today he sits in a wheelchair.... but he can still laugh, smile, swap tales with his many friends and enjoy his football.
And always by his side is his equally-popular wife Beryl.
Both have served Norwich well, he as Lord Mayor and she as Sheriff. They are a double act we can all be proud of, loved and respected across the city and county.
Roy, about to celebrate his 75th birthday, has spent several spells in hospital in recent times but he always bounces back. “Live each day as it comes because you never know what is round the corner,” he says.
Over the years he has made a name for himself, not just at Carrow Road as the leader of the independent supporters’ group, but also as a city and county councillor, a magistrate and a servant of a host of voluntary groups and organisations, sporting and non-sporting.
Born in Norwich he lived with his mum and dad, George and Maud, in Lewis Street off Southwell Road just round the corner from the Trafford Arms.
“My father was a maintenance man at the CWS shoe factory. He worked hard. Life was tough,” recalled Roy, who went to Bignold School and then Lakenham Secondary Modern School, now the Hewett Academy.
Before he left school he was a busy paper boy, delivering around the city.“ I have never forgotten the story about the Manchester United air crash in February 1958. Such a terrible thing.”
When he left school he went in the office at the Eastern Counties Bus Company before moving on to building companies Taylor Woodrow and Anglia Building Products, slowly but surely moving up the ladder to become a production controller.
Roy, never a chap to let the grass grow under his feet, decided to go up, up and away and when he was still in his 20s he established his own roofing company - so you could say he had a birds-eye view of life over Norwich and Norfolk for some time.
Away from work it was the football club which played a leading role in his life. “I saw my first match 70 years ago in 1948. I have never forgotten it.”
But even as a lad Roy wanted to get involved so he was working (under-age) at the club, selling cushions, programmes and the like. “I paid 9d to get in and then got a refund,” he said.
Over the years, through good and bad times, Roy has been a figurehead at Carrow Road – helping to carry blankets round the ground to collect money when it was fighting for its survival – and then flying to away games in better days.
He became the chairman of the Norwich City Independent Supporters Club, and was the voice of the fans.
Roy was also a magistrate - the youngest in the city aged 28 - and served as a Labour city and county councillor.
“My grandfather went on strike for 11 months for an extra £1 a week. Life was hard for many people, and still is, I just wanted to help in any way I could,” said Roy.
His greatest honour was in 2007 when he was appointed Lord Mayor of Norwich. “It was such a privilege – and I met some incredible people.”
And then, a couple of years ago, his wife Beryl was invited to became the Sheriff of Norwich, a role she took to her heart.
Nowadays Roy is living with his condition and has been in and out of hospital. He gets about in his wheelchair and is surrounded by family and friends.
“I am one of the lucky ones,” said Roy, father to James, Verity and Robert and also a loving grandfather.
“My message is get the most out of every minute of every day. Be positive and enjoy life,” said the man who certainly does that.
Thanks Roy... you’ve done us proud and still do.