Along Come Norwich Flashback – Norwich City 0-2 Leicester City (1963 – H)

27/08/21

For this week's flashback, it's the attendance number and not the scoreline that has interested Nick Hayhoe...

Story of the match

This match is not notable for the result in any way for Norwich, but can be found on a club ‘factfile’, ‘statpack’ or history book for one particular reason: this game is Carrow Road’s official record attendance as, somehow, 43,984 souls squeezed through the turnstiles on that day of 30 March 1963.

Norwich had been enjoying decent attendances since the 1959 Cup Run and, in 1963, it looked like it might be happening again – with wins against First Division Newcastle and Manchester City in the 4th and 5th Rounds respectively. And so it was; 43,984 followed the river, and marched down past the factories and the railway yards to Carrow Road to see if this was again a Norwich City cup year to remember. Unfortunately, in a classic Along Come Norwich, we lost – and wouldn’t appear in an FA Cup 6th Round until 1983.

Long term significance

The official attendance record would never be broken again at the “old” Carrow Road, and, as a result of Carrow Road being rebuilt as an all seater in various stages from 1979 to 2007, it is highly unlikely that it will be broken for the foreseeable.

The final piece of the all-seater puzzle, the current corner in-fill between the South Stand and the River End, brings the current Carrow Road capacity to 27,244 – at least according to the Premier League’s official guide (there’s some dispute online as to whether the capacity is currently 27,244, 27,359 or even 27,033). Regardless, the all-seater record attendance is 27,137, from a match against Newcastle in 2019.

You might have forgotten that…

There were flamethrowers.

The Leicester game was one of five FA Cup games Norwich played in March, on top of four league matches. The incredibly harsh winter of 1963, where snow drifts piled as high as houses and the North Sea froze over near the coast, had wiped out a large majority of the football schedule from December to February, with Norwich only playing twice in January and February. Norwich’s 3rd round cup game against Blackpool was postponed 11 times. According to the West Lancashire Evening Gazette archives (and subsequently picked up in this article of The Guardian’s The Knowledge feature), the Carrow Road ground staff attempted to thaw the pitch out using flamethrowers as a desperate measure to try and get the game played. It failed.

Please, for the love of everything, if you have a photograph of this occurring, share it with us.

What happened in the rest of that season?

Norwich, jamming in a further seven games in April to catch up with the fixture backlog, finished 11th in the Second Division, with a hilariously average record of having won 17 matches and lost 17 matches, and scoring 80 goals to 79 conceded.

Leicester made the final of the cup, losing to Manchester United (they wouldn’t win the cup until 2021), and finished fourth in the First Division.

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