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GEOFFREY WATLING 1913 - 2004


Goeffrey Watling 1913-2004

Mr Watling died peacefully in his sleep on Wednesday morning, 17th November.

As a mark of respect, there will be a minute's silence prior to the kick-off of today's Barclays Premiership match with Southampton.

Players will wear black armbands during the game and the flags above the Geoffrey Watling City Stand will be flown at half-mast.

Club Chairman Roger Munby said: "Everyone at the Club is deeply saddened at this news.

"Were it not for Geoffrey, this Club may well not be in existence now.

"He was a great man and will be fondly remembered by everyone who had the good fortune to know him.

"He is a sad loss to Norwich City."

Often described as "Mr Norwich City", Mr Watling's long association with the football club began in 1957 when he was elected Chairman.

A long-time supporter of the Club before he took his place on the Board, Mr Watling was Chairman during one of the most colourful periods of time for the Canaries.

The Canaries reached the semi-final of the FA Cup in 1958-59 and won promotion to Division Two the following season.

The Club then won the League Cup in 1962 and, seven years later, Mr Watling was instrumental in persuading Oxford United to part with the services of their highly regarded young manager, Ron Saunders.

In 1972, with Saunders as manager, City won the Second Division Championship.

Mr Watling knew then his ambitions for the Club had been met in competing in English football's highest division for the first time ever.

Before the start of the 1973-74 season Mr Watling resigned his post and was succeeded by Arthur South.

But he remained on the board, serving as Vice Chairman until he resigned in 1985.

Mr Watling was appointed Club President when a new board was formed in November that year.

But it was in 1996 that younger City fans will best remember his massive contribution to the survival of the Club.

With the Club on the brink of financial ruin, Mr Watling stepped in to buy-out then Chairman Robert Chase.

Working closely with Chief Executive Gordon Bennett and Martin Armstrong from the Norwich and Peterborough Building Society, Mr Watling was able to place the Club back on a more secure financial footing.

In 1997 he sold his majority shareholding to Delia Smith and her husband Michael Wynn Jones but remained a financial backer of the Club.

Everyone connected with Norwich City FC is deeply saddened by news of his passing.

Article provided by Norwich City Football Club OTBC Matchday, Programme November 2004