On The Ball City - 100 Years Of Norwich City Football Club

By Richard Moss | 20 December 2002
over the last 100 years the famous Canaries have seen the highs and lows of top level football.

Left: over the last 100 years the Canaries have seen the highs and lows of top level football.

On The Ball City is an exhibition curated by Norwich Castle covering the illustrious history of Norwich City FC. Now the show is on tour through Norfolk, and can currently be seen at the Lynn Museum in Kings Lynn until January 5.

Knowledgeable fans thinking of Norwich City may conjure up images of Delia Smith or Coleman's mustard. But Norwich, the only English team to beat Bayern Munich in their own backyard, are a club with a long and proud history, making this exhibition a must for all Canaries fans.

As usual with football club exhibitions, there are literally hundreds of items of memorabilia donated by supporters; including football programmes dating back to the early 1900's, rare football cards, tickets, photographs and other personal ephemera.

the faithful salute their heroes at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff.

Right: the faithful salute their heroes at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff.

"We've had an overwhelming response from local fans," said Tim Thorpe, the custodian and curator from the Lynn Museum. "We've even supplemented this part of the tour with a small display consisting of items lent by the local football club at Kings Lynn."

Apart from being a treasure-trove of personal ephemera, the exhibition is also a hands-on experience. Visiting fans are invited to stand with the players of yesteryear in the form of life-size blow-ups of past heroes.

There are also footballs from different eras, to be handled, weighed, even kicked, giving visitors a handle on how the game has physically changed from the days of leather and lace to the modern hi-tech sport we know today.

top Canaries nosh when Delia was just a twinkle in her daddy's eye.

Left: top Canaries nosh when Delia was just a twinkle in her daddy's eye.

There is even an interactive cube that allows visitors to mix and match the vast array of strips through the ages, and audio stations featuring famous commentaries, memories and the eponymous terrace chant and song 'On the Ball, City.'

Of interest to football folklorists will be the intricate scale model of The Nest, Norwich City's home ground for 27 years between 1908 and 1935. Built into the sides of an ancient chalk pit, the Nest was legendary for it's dangerously steep terraces and bear-pit atmosphere.

But for a real oddity check out the display of mascots through the ages. There is the Norfolk dumpling mascot, a scary creature that held sway in the 1940's and 50's with a large head resembling the local delicacy. It's a stark contrast to the debonair figure of the 1930's Canary - complete with cigar, top hat and tails.

the inflatable banana craze didn't leave out Carrow Road.

Right: the inflatable banana craze didn't leave out Carrow Road.

Obviously this exhibition will appeal to Norwich City supporters, but it is cleverly assembled and presented and will enlighten and entertain anyone with an interest in the beautiful game.

On The Ball City closes at Lynn Museum on January 5 before resuming its Norfolk tour at The Roots of Norfolk Museum at Gressenhall on February 16.

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