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31 December 2014

City's video mastermind Max Bell selects the best clips from Norwich City's year.

MAX Bell, Senior Digital Editor, witnessed Norwich City's year through the lens of a video camera. Here he selects his standout moments from a calendar packed with drama.


I'll be completely honest in admitting that until the idea of Duncan's Day was first relayed to me by the club's Head of Communications, Joe Ferrari, I had never heard of Duncan Forbes.

I can perhaps be forgiven for my ignorance given that I grew up in Canada decades after the end of Duncan's playing career.

But as we started to formulate a plan for how we could create a short film that would honour the former City captain's contribution to the club - while also shining some much-needed light on the difficulties of his ongoing battle with Alzheimer's disease - it didn't take long to realise that Duncan was a special man.

In a moving interview conducted by Senior Club Journalist Ben Mouncer, Duncan's wife Janette provided an insightful, and unfortunately heartbreaking, glimpse into how difficult it can be to adjust to a life where your long-term partner can sometimes fail to recognise his own family members.

I am pleased to say that the club's Duncan's Day campaign helped to raise tens of thousands of pounds for Duncan's personal care, with a share of the money also going to Alzheimer's Research UK.

It was wonderful to see the club, and indeed much of the City, rally around its former captain in the build-up to the Stoke game on March 8 this year, and as a media team we hope that our little film played its part in raising awareness for the fundraising efforts.


I have had the privilege of taking in football matches from countless different competitions in all corners of the globe, but I have quite simply never seen a cleaner strike of a football than Alex Tettey's thunderous volley against Sunderland.

It was a crucial game for the Canaries as the club was battling for its Premier League survival against a relegation rival. The sheer ferocity of the volley, combined with its critical importance to City's season at that point, made for a truly electric moment at Carrow Road.

I'm sure it is a goal that will live long in the memory for all who witnessed it.

We received many kind comments from supporters who enjoyed our 'TUNNEL CAM' series on Norwich City TV last season, and it was certainly the piece of regular matchday content that we took the most pleasure in producing.

In a world where football is being filmed by more cameras and in more formats than ever before, our aim was to shift the perspective for the viewer to present the ongoings of a Premier League matchday from a back-stage position.

Liverpool's visit on April 20 made for drama of the highest order.

Suarez, Gerrard and co. were in rampaging form and chasing a historic first Premier League title. Meanwhile, Neil Adams was set to walk out in front of the Carrow Road faithful for the first time as City manager with the Canaries battling for the their Premier League lives. It always promised to be an enthralling encounter.

The game didn't disappoint.

I'm really pleased with how some of the footage from the day turned out and I hope that the video does some justice to what was an inspired City fight-back against the form team in Europe at the time.

Despite eventually losing 3-2, City walked off that day to a standing ovation from the Yellow Army, and in my first season as part of the Canaries family, that was a moment that told me a lot about the character of the club's supporters.

After a bitter end to an exhausting Premier League campaign, I'm sure many supporters would have wondered if the City players would be able to turn up to the first day of pre-season in the right frame of mind.

Well, as I hope was captured in this video, the entire squad turned up ready to get straight down to work.

In an off-camera chat with City's Head of Sports Science, Nick Davies, Ben Mouncer and I were told that the majority of players had surpassed their fitness targets for the first day of pre-season. The players had in fact been getting down to work for several weeks ahead of their arrival into Burton-upon-Trent with their personal fitness routines.

In his interview for the piece, Russ Martin is still struggling to catch his breath as he answers our questions and I think that sums up the gruelling nature of what goes into pre-season preparation for a professional footballer.

It is an absolute grind.

And with fitness levels across the world's top leagues continuously improving, players need to work harder than ever to prepare themselves physically for the staggering requirements of the modern-day game.

City made excellent use of the world-class facility at the FA's St. George's Park and I suspect that early training camp helped propel the squad to such an emphatic opening run in the Championship season.

This is, aesthetically speaking, my favourite video of the year.

After a fairly expansive project for the home-kit launch, we wanted to keep things simple for the unveiling of the away kit and we selected the trio of Nathan Redmond, Josh Murphy and Elliott Bennett for the campaign because every one of the three players had something special to prove during the 2014-15 season.

None of the lines in the video were scripted and we simply interviewed the players to naturally convey the importance of the 2014-15 campaign for City as the club looked to bounce back from relegation.

There is a wonderful moment in the film where you can see young Murphy's eyes light up as he utters the confident phrase: "Whoever wants to take me on, I'm ready for you."

Josh's boldness is a testament to the resilient spirit that I think is pervasive throughout this City squad after a tough year. And I am really pleased that all three players have gone on to prove their quality this season in their own unique ways.

It won't go down as a classic instalment of the East Anglian Derby, but I have learned enough about the importance of this fixture to everyone at the club that I simply couldn't leave it off the list.

It was a wonderful day for the team and supporters alike, and with both City and Ipswich chasing promotion this season I'm sure we are all looking forward to an even higher-stakes encounter back at Carrow Road on March 1.

As I alluded to earlier in this piece there is an increasing challenge for those of us in the football video field to present the narrative of the professional game in new and unique formats.

Even before I arrived in Norwich at the beginning of last year's Premier League season, I believed that there was a unique niche of documentary-style film that had yet to be fully exploited by any of the big English clubs.

Liverpool had attracted some attention with the beautifully shot documentary series 'Being Liverpool' after the club's purchase by its American owners, but the program only followed the first few of the club's games at the start of the 2012-13 season.

I wanted to do something that would tell the story of an entire season. Win or lose.

I think at its purest, football is still the wonderfully compelling story of a group of talented, driven men coming together to achieve a common goal. When this group of men can succeed in inspiring a community, even an entire City, the scenes can be goose-bump inducing.

Our aim with the City360 series is to tell the story of a Norwich City season in a more revealing, evocative manner than has ever been done before.

My colleagues and I were pleased to see that the debut episode of the series was met with initial appreciation on the part of supporters. Our aim is to keep the dramatic crescendo rising as the club continues its journey towards the climax of the Championship season.

So, buckle up! Because as we head towards the business end of the season, I think we are all expecting the ride to get a little bit more wild.

The City360 series will be curated, re-woven and enhanced into a special edition end-of-season film, so keep your eye out for that come the end of the campaign. It promises to be a must-watch for any City fan.

This one doesn't need much explaining.

Those of you who were at the Cardiff City Stadium for last season's agonising defeat will know that it made for one of the sorest away days of our Premier League campaign. David Marshall produced another goalkeeping masterclass to deny City a critical away result.

Thus, to see the Canaries storm back from two goals down to produce an emphatic four-goal second half on their way to a memorable victory was, quite simply, brilliant.

James Frost is a massive Norwich City fan. He is also fighting a difficult battle with muscular dystrophy.

James and his parents were invited to Carrow Road for what they were told was going to be a tour of the stadium. It turned out to be so much more than that.

This moving film was produced by my colleague, Natalie Sawyer, who is in the in-house video guru at the club's Community Sports Foundation.

I think it's an excellent video that gets right to the heart of how a football club can be privileged to play such an important part in the life of a young fan.

It is amazing how the many storylines in football can sometimes conspire to create moments that defy logic.

What are the odds?

What are the odds that on the day of his 200th appearance for the club that he now captains, against his hometown side (a side that let him go as an academy player), that Russell Martin would hit the most thumping strike of his professional career?

Did all of these factors conspire to give Russ the added focus, motivation and impetus to strike that ball with such force and accuracy?

Or was this a case of the football gods acknowledging the significance of the occasion for the City captain and simply offering him a just reward for his long-standing commitment to the club?

In any case, there was a certain magic to the moment.

And in its own bizarre way, it summed up everything I love about this crazy game.


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