The recent 110th birthday of Norwich City Football Club (on June 17th) sparked this enquiry from a reader of Sing Up The River End! :
" On which day did the club become known as The Canaries ? We should all know so we can celebrate it "
Well, the answer is not altogether straight forward. If we want to come up with a specific date, it would be the opening fixture of the 1907-08 season - the 2nd of September 1907 when we played Portsmouth at Newmarket Road in the Southern League. During the close season, decisions had been made to re-brand the club (a modern term I know, but the initiative boiled down to the same thing, even way back in 1907) and this included a change to yellow shirts and to the nickname Canaries. However, this was the rubber stamping of something that had already partly happened as far as the nickname was concerned. We all know that Norwich, because of the activities of Flemish refugees hundreds of years earlier, had become a centre for breeding canaries and when John Bowman joined City as first professional manager in 1905 it is said that he increasingly referred to his players as 'my little Canaries'.
It is here that things start to get hazy. We have to imagine that not every supporter wanted to see the Citizens label disappear. And certainly at this point in time it very much remained the official club nickname. But it is equally easy to imagine that the Canaries idea soon caught on amongst the people who followed the fortunes of the team. It is not rare, even today, for football clubs to have more than one nickname, and this is probably what happened with Norwich City. Over a period of a couple of years, the name we are known as today would most certainly have gained in popularity and run alongside the name of Citizens.
So, it is impossible to put a date against the day 'Canaries' was first mentioned. But the one given above is likely to be the first senior game contested under that moniker. And it is certainly the day that things were made official. Given the connection of the bird with the city, their choice of new nickname was an easy one for the directors to make.
Do you have a question regarding Norwich City Football Club history or trivia ? Maybe a memory that you can't quite piece together due to missing information ? The solution of course may already be on Sing Up The River End! but if you want to contact me either by the comment facility or e mail (address at bottom of the blog) I will try to publish you an answer.
Many questions are likely to be beyond me. So, if I don't know the answer, I will put out a request to see if any other readers can help. It's amazing what people know and remember and it may just give you what you are looking for.