Norwich City's history against clubs no longer in the Football League or no longer in existence
Thames began life in the Southern League Eastern Division in 1928-29 but finished only 14th. However an improved performance in the following campaign saw them up to third place. An application to join the Football League was made, and they were elected in by the other members, winning by a single vote. Merthyr Town were the club they replaced.
Their first clash with Norwich City came on the 3rd of April 1931 in Division Three South. It proved to be another unhappy match for the Canaries who were having a miserable campaign. The huge ground had only 1,231 spectators present on the day and Thames AFC (the name adopted upon entry to the Football League) ran out winners, 2-0. Just three days later, on a Bank Holiday Monday afternoon, the return fixture took place at the Nest and that game ended goalless. The attendance was 13,485, Norwich's largest home crowd of the season - enhanced no doubt by supporters being off work and the novelty of seeing this brand new football club for the first time. At the end of the season Thames avoided the wooden spoon in their first year in the league. That dubious honour went I'm afraid, to the Canaries.
In 1931-32 however, the fortunes of the two clubs went in different directions. Norwich made a very strong recovery and finished mid table. But Thames deteriorated both on and off the field. The existence of very well established clubs in the area such as West Ham United, Charlton Athletic, Millwall and Clapton Orient meant developing a fan base was very difficult. Whilst big crowds attended the greyhounds and speedway (83,000 watched a Test match meeting against Australia), many of those spectators already had allegiances with the other London clubs. Thames only ever attracted a few thousand on average. In a stadium shorn of atmosphere because of it's size the team also struggled on the pitch. When Thames came to the Nest for the second time on the 7th of November 1931, Norwich thumped them 7-0. Ken Burditt and James Pearson each scored a brace of goals, the others coming from Sam Bell, Spud Murphy and Doug Lochhead.
As the season went on Thames plunged down the table and were rock bottom by the start of 1932, remaining there for the rest of the campaign. Norwich visited the West Ham Stadium for the final time on the 19th of March and were surprisingly beaten 1-0. It would be the last contest between the clubs. With public interest failing (in December 1930 Thames had set the record for the lowest attendance in Football League history when just 469 people paid to watch them play Luton Town), the owners decided to cut their losses at the end of their second season in the league, and the club was wound up. The vacancy created in the Football League was filled by Aldershot FC.
The irony of Norwich City's rivalry with Thames is that they never had the opportunity of getting the better of the head to head series - which finished 2-1 in favour of the London side with one draw. The ground went back to former uses, with baseball and stock car racing also featuring in later years. It was finally closed in 1972, with the land subsequently being developed for housing.
pictured : Thames AFC playing colours during the period they first met Norwich City in the Football League (copyright Historical Football Kits - not to be reproduced without permission of the owners).