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13 February 2015

Under-21s' backing this season has been something unique

In the latest edition of his monthly blog, Senior Club Journalist Ben Mouncer highlights City fans' brilliant support of the Club's Under-21s ahead of Wednesday game against Manchester City.

I DIDN’T believe the fandom of Norwich City supporters could amaze me any more – but this season, it has.

I’m not even talking about the 2,392 who braved a winter’s night in the middle of the working week to watch Alex Neil’s troops beat Charlton Athletic on Tuesday.

We all know about that brilliant backing on the road. The evidence is before my eyes on each away trip when a yellow and green blanket occupies a sizeable section of the ground.

I’m not either referring to Carrow Road and the close to capacity crowds it attracts on home matchdays, or the folk donning speckles of yellow and green who are always dotted around the city centre, or the inevitable Norwich fan that you bump into on your summer holiday.

Next Wednesday night, as the Canaries’ Development Squad welcome Manchester City to Carrow Road, will hopefully illustrate what I’m trying to get at.

The backing our Under-21s have received this season has been, quite simply, magnificent.

Let’s crunch some numbers: 10,405 against Tottenham Hotspur, which was comfortably a new record for the Barclays Under-21s Premier League. There were 8,830 present against Liverpool in December and then 9,682 watched Paul Wilkinson’s team draw 1-1 with Manchester United.

To surround those with some context, that figure against Spurs is higher than the average attendance for first-team matches at 20 of the 24 clubs in Sky Bet League One this season.

Of course, the Club’s initiative to allow free entry to these matches has helped, but it would be simplistic and a slight on the fans who give up their time to support the lads, to assume that open doors are the only factor.

Since City’s remarkable FA Youth Cup triumph in 2013, the progress of young footballers at City has captured the fans’ imaginations more than ever before. The evidence is in those numbers above.

“There were times in the game when Spurs got to us and we were behind the ball, and then you heard the crowd shouting and it gives you that extra boost. It makes a genuine difference.”

Those are Cameron King’s words, but he’s not alone is having sentiments of that ilk.

Academy Manager Gregg Broughton has reported back from Premier League meetings that Norwich City are the envy of their peers, and some players have suggested that members of the opposition look especially forward to their visits to Carrow Road because of the numbers in the stands. 

City are still to host Southampton, Everton and Chelsea before the season’s close – and entry will free to all of these games.

But next up is Manchester City, and come Wednesday I will probably be amazed once again.

Norwich City v Manchester City, Wednesday February 18, 7pm at Carrow Road


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