Norwich City The Early Years

Although football had been played in Norwich since at least 1868, one club became recognised as the city"s leading team soon after being founded in the early years of the last century.

Norwich City, the only League club in the East Anglian county of Norfolk, were formed in September 1902, largely on the initiative of two local schoolmasters, who convened a meeting at the Criterion Cafe.

However, the fledgling club were stunned in 1904 when an FA Commission declared them to be professional and ejected them from the FA Amateur Cup. This made them even more determined and at a meeting in 1905 at the Agricultural Hall new officials established a professional football club. Norwich joined the Southern League that year and played their home games in Newmarket Road.

When restrictions and financial demands were placed on them by the landlords in 1908, the club decided to develop a disused chalk pit on Rosary Road, known as Ruymp"s Hole, that chairman John Pyker had recently purchased. City"s wooden stand at Newmarket Road was transported via horse and cart to the new site, and work throughout the summer of 1908 resulted in "The Nest" being ready as the home of The Canaries in time for the new season.

It was possibly the most cramped, eccentric and potentially unsafe ground in the Football League, which Norwich joined in 1920 as original members of the new Third Division. After a record gate of 25,037 crammed into The Nest for an FA Cup tie against Sheffield United in February 1935, the FA decided that the ground was an accident waiting to happen.

They wrote to the club in May of that year to say the ground was no longer suitable for large crowds. On 6 May 1935, Arsenal beat the Canaries 1-0 in the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital Cup, the last first-team match to be played at the unique Nest.

Less than a month later, local engineering firm Boulton Paul agreed to sub-let a sports ground they had rented from the Colman Mustard company. It was Carrow Road, on the banks of the River Wensum. Within ten days, construction of terracing had begun. And on 31 August, just 82 days later, Carrow Road was opened for a match against West Ham in front of 29,779 wildly enthusiastic fans.