Write up by Connor Southwell, picture captions by Craig Bailey.
At football clubs, we’ve become accustomed to hearing from the manager or players prior to and following every fixture.
Those in the spotlight are merely the tip of the iceberg, with a whole host of people working quietly underneath the surface.
It’s simple to forget about those who work tirelessly in the background, helping construct the culture and direction of the club from on the ground. Those figures can get lost amongst on field performances and results because their work doesn’t get highlighted in the same way as a star striker after he finishes a chance to win the game.
Ingrained into the DNA of the club are these characters who are responsible for the reshaping of departments that has contributed to a drastic change in fortunes.
On Thursday, October 3rd, the Norwich City Fans Social Club hosted their ‘Meet the NCFC Staff’ event, geared to thrusting those protagonists from the background into the spotlight. Hosted by City legend Darren Eadie, a good crowd packed into the Top of the Terrace to hear untold stories surrounding the inner workings of their club.
Business and Project Director Zoe Ward has been a leading figure in the redevelopment of Colney.
The aim has been to replace the temporary structure with something that is befitting of the status of the club. In the Premier League, you need a permanent set-up to attract new talent and develop those within the youth academy.
Colney is no longer a place ruled by portacabins but now has a state-of-the-art building with analysis rooms, a contemporary gym with plenty more scheduled for different phases. Ward has overseen it all, from planning through to construction and, for her, this is merely the start.
Chief Operating Officer Ben Kensell, along with Ward and Stuart Webber, makes the up City’s executive committee, the decision makers who run the club from day to day.
Kensell oversees the business side of the club, for generating income to ensure Carrow Road is operational on a matchday. He offered plenty of insight into how the club were seeking to build a legacy.
Safe standing, the expansion of Carrow Road and the purchase of land in the grounds surrounding areas were all discussed, with supporters’ questions being answered with honesty.
Youth development has become an integral sector within the football club, with academy manager Steve Weaver ensuring the individual pathways are catered towards the production line is healthy for the Canaries.
Weaver has worked with sporting director Stuart Webber at Wrexham, Wolves and Huddersfield prior to joining City, and spoke intelligently about how City have placed a greater emphasis on development, including why the Under 23 squad is a positive tool for young players.
With four academy graduates shining in the Premier League, Weaver is determined to ensure that continues with others coming through the ranks. He spoke passionately about the development process and why the club place an onus on standards, mindset and individual performances over results.
Important to that development is City legend, ex-manager and FA Youth Cup winning boss Neil Adams.
For the last five seasons, Adams has constructed the role of loans manager from scratch, ensuring the players away from the club on loan are being monitored with the same degree of detail as those currently in the building.
Todd Cantwell and Ben Godfrey’s individual loans were important for their careers and it was Adams who ensured the respective clubs were right for what they needed. His role has seen a shift in mentality, which a loan move now being perceived as a positive step rather than signalling the end of your City career.
All four of our guests were both informative and entertaining, they managed to balance providing insightful anecdotes with comedic moments, to leave our audience feeling more connected to their football club.
We look forward to being able to do more in the future and to remaining true to our ethos of putting on affordable and entertaining events open to everyone.
We have no membership or fees at the Norwich City Fans Social Club, as our motto says, “You don’t join, you just join in!”.
You can find out more about the Norwich City Fans Social Club and upcoming events on our website www.ncfsc.co.uk.