As Concrete reaches its 25th birthday, the university’s local football club, Norwich City, have enjoyed tremendous highs and heart-aching lows. This has included the club’s most successful campaign during the inaugural 1992-93 Premier League season, its demoralising relegation to League One, and its recent revival and reputation as a yo-yo club between the Premier League and Championship.
The 1992-93 season of the Premier League remains City’s finest in the top flight. The Canaries emerged as tenacious title challengers. Inspired by the management of maverick Mike Walker, they were seven points clear at the top by Christmas.
However, Norwich faltered in the final weeks to finish third behind Manchester United and Aston Villa. The following season, the Canaries enjoyed their most famous victory in the UEFA Cup, defeating the heavily fancied Bayern Munich 2-1 away from home.
However, Norwich’s success resulted in the departure of Walker to Everton and top scorer Chris Sutton soon followed to Blackburn for a national record £5m. City struggled to maintain their purple patch, and were relegated at the end of the 1994-95 season, ending their nine-season run in the top flight.
Regaining promotion to the Premier League proved a bigger challenge than initially expected for the Canaries, with a series of mid-table finishes. Chairman Robert Chase, responsible for steering City through its most successful period in history, was called to step down by supporters due to a succession of player sales and disappointing results, leading to the beginning of the Delia Smith and Michael Wynn-Jones period.
Not even the return of club legend Mike Walker or the capture of former Arsenal manager Bruce Rioch improved the club’s fortunes. By December 2000, they were in danger of suffering another relegation, this time to the third tier.
Smith installed Nigel Worthington as manager, which proved to be a turning point for the club. Worthington steered Norwich to safety, and the following season, led the Yellows to the play-off final, where they lost on penalties against Birmingham City.
After nearly ten years away, Norwich returned to the Premier League as champions of the 2003- 04 Division One.
However, their return to the top-flight was brief, as the club struggled for much of the 2004-05 campaign, with it ending in relegation after a 6-0 defeat away to Fulham. Despite being pre-season favourites for an immediate return, Norwich struggled to challenge for promotion as results plummeted. Eventually, Worthington was sacked in October 2006.
The Canaries then experienced their worst period in recent club history. Suffering relegation to League One in the 2008-09 season, City lost 7-1 to East Anglian rivals Colchester United in the first game of the season, resulting in the sacking of club legend and manager Bryan Gunn. Colchester’s manager, Paul Lambert, was announced as Gunn’s replacement, and led the club’s revival back to the Championship as League One champions.
Lambert then led City to back-to-back promotions from the third tier to the first, as they finished second thanks to the firepower of Grant Holt up front. Holt’s goal-scoring record did not stop there, bagging fifteen goals in the Premier League as City achieved a comfortable mid-table finish.
Chris Hughton’s reign, although starting with a bad run of form, oversaw a club record unbeaten run in the Premier League, securing Norwich’s top flight survival. However, the Canaries struggled without Holt’s goals after he moved on to Wigan, and were subsequently relegated back to the Championship in the 2013-14 season.
Their stay was brief as Alex Neil guided them to promotion once again, although this was only to be a temporary relief, as Norwich ended the 2015-16 season relegated to the Championship yet again.
Norwich’s reputation as a maverick yo-yo club has ensured there is never a dull moment at Carrow Road. The future promises exciting times, with yet another new manager set to be installed for the start of the 2017-18 season.