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Official Review by Stephan Hoogerwaard, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Carrow Road is a football stadium in the city of Norwich, England with 26,018 covered seats, home of the Norwich City Football Club of the Premier League. The stadium has the 3rd smallest capacity in the league. Only the Swansea City and Hull City stadiums are smaller.
The Carrow Road stadium was built in 1935 when Norwich City had grown out of their old home stadium. The construction lasted only 82 days. Construction started on the 11th of June 1935 and it was open for the Canaries’ first home game against West Ham United on the 31st of August 1935. The stadium has been steadily redeveloped since the late 1970's, with all four sides of the ground having new stands. The latest stand is the Jarrold Stand (also know as South Stand) which was built in 2004. The Jarrod Stand is an impressive single tier stand. This stand alone can house 8,184 spectators. At one of the sides of this stand there has been an area created to house the away fans.
In 2013 the stadium has the following stands with its capacity in brackets: Barclay Stand (6,107), The Geoffrey Watling City (North) Stand (4,173), Norwich and Peterborough Stand (5,799), Jarrold (South) Stand (8,184, including the away-section), Aviva Community Stand (1,708) angle between the Jarrold Stand and N&P Stand.
There are no standing areas inside Carrow Road as these are prohibited in the top flight of English football. This makes the stadium an ‘A-label ground’ that is required by the UEFA to play European Cup matches in case Norwich City should qualify.
Norwich City Football Club have announced that if they stay in the Premier League there are serious plans to replace the Geoffrey Watling City Stand in a newly built double tiered 12,000-seater stand. This will raise the capacity of the ground initially to 35,000 seats. Later on there can be a second tier added on the Jarrold Stand, this would raise the capacity to around 39,000 places.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Inside the ground the food is good. There is a large variety of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and pies (amongst the choices: chicken curry pie and steak kidney pie). The drinks are of a similar price to most Premier League grounds which I have visited over the last couple of years. Half litre of Carling or another brand will cost you just under Ł4.
The atmosphere during against local rivals Ipswich Town is very good, just like you would expect at a derby. During this match the Norwich City fans were more vocal, maybe because the home team won the match or maybe they outnumbered the away support. I estimate that there were 2,000 Ipswich supporters allowed inside the ground. Outside Anglia the derby is called cynically 'the Old Farm' referring to the Anglia country side (mostly farmers) and the big Glasgow derby which is off course called 'the Old Firm'.
The neighbourhood around the stadium is not really spectacular. There is a Morrisons supermarket just behind the ground and a new leisure complex called the Riverside has opened just a little further away. The pubs for home and away supporters are closer to the main railway station and on the edge of the city centre. This is where most of the home fans gather for a pre-match analyses. So stay close to the city centre when you visit a match at Carrow Road.
Most of the Norwich fans which visit a match of their team are dressed in their yellow and green club colours. The nickname of fans are 'the Canaries', not only for the colours the fans wear during a match but this little songbird is also in the team crest. The Tractor Boys (nickname for Ipswich fans) were accompanied by a large police force from the train station towards the stadium, this to avoid clashes between both supporters groups which has occurred in the past on various occasions.
We drove by car to Norwich, the ground is well signposted from the A11 and A47. If you stay in the city centre, just leave your car at the hotel. The ground is located just a 15 minute walk from the city centre.
We ordered our tickets via the ticket office and these were held for collection on the day of the match. We were appointed seats on the 2nd tier behind one of the goals (Barclays Stand). Please note that prices for matches can vary because matches are graded in A category matches for top games to D category matches for matches against lesser attractive opponents. Therefore prices may vary from GBP 50,- to GBP 20,- for the Barclays and the North & Peterborough stand (both upper and lower tiers).
There are just a couple of extras to mention which aren't really spectacular. The club store is housed in the corner of the Geoffrey Watling City Stand and Norwich and Peterborough Stand. Around the stadium there are limited parking places available with pass holders only having access. The service of the ticket office is rather good as they were prepared to make a ticket reservation for this high profile match.
When you are enjoying a stay in the English country side (Anglia) and if you want something else than visit its beautiful villages, castles ruins, and cathedrals, then a visit to a match of Norwich City Football Club is a welcome break. You can experience the real football atmosphere created by the passionate Canaries fans. Though the stadium is one of the smallest in the Premier League, the atmosphere you will experience at Carrow Road is probably better than you will find at some of the top teams in the league.
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