West Norfolk football fans flock to Wembley

Norwich City fans wave flags during the Sky Bet Championship Play Off, Second Leg, match at Carrow Road, Norwich. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Norwich. Photo credit should read: Stephen Pond/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Maximum 45 images during a match. No video emulation or promotion as 'live'. No use in games, competitions, merchandise, betting or single club/player services. No use with unofficial audio, video, data, fixtures or club/league logos. SOCCER_Norwich_132270.JPG
Norwich City fans wave flags during the Sky Bet Championship Play Off, Second Leg, match at Carrow Road, Norwich. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 16, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Norwich. Photo credit should read: Stephen Pond/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Maximum 45 images during a match. No video emulation or promotion as 'live'. No use in games, competitions, merchandise, betting or single club/player services. No use with unofficial audio, video, data, fixtures or club/league logos. SOCCER_Norwich_132270.JPG
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It’s regarded as the richest game in world football – and West Norfolk football fans are following Norwich City’s dream of reaching the Premier League.

Hundreds of supporters from the area are set to join the 40,000-strong yellow army at Wembley for Monday’s Championship play-off final with Middlesbrough.

Representatives from four West Norfolk companies have reported brisk business on the back of the news that Norwich City have filled all 120 of the official club coaches.

Matthews, Peelings, D and H Harrods and Eagles will all ferry fans to the home of football, with 200 private coaches also expected to make the trip to London on top of the club’s official transport.

Anne Harrod, from Downham-based company D and H Harrods, said: “It has been very good for business, especially with the threat of strike action on the trains.

“We put something on Facebook on Monday and we already have 104 people booked on two coaches.

“We still have ten seats left to fill on a second coach and if we get the demand then we are prepared to put on a third.”

Tittleshall firm Peelings have provided transport to every Norwich City home game throughout the season.

Ruth Joplin admitted that demand for the showpiece game had also been high, saying: “We’ve filled two coaches for our regulars, while the West Norfolk Canaries supporters group have also hired a coach from us.”

Christine Howman, from Eagles Coaches at Castle Acre, said the extra business had been most welcome.

Mrs Howman said: “We already had one or two jobs for the Monday but we’ve managed to fill four coaches to go to Wembley, which is great.

“One individual, who we’ve done work for before, booked three and we managed to fill another early this week.

“We did expect to get quite a few bookings and if we’d had more coaches we would have easily taken more fans.”

John Lloyd, of Matthews Coaches, said: “It has been a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation really.

“I’ve had a lot of people hanging on to see if the rail strike takes place before they book, while other people have been waiting to see if they can get a ticket.

“I’ve definitely filled one coach and I’m looking to perhaps run a second one.

“It has been good for business but the timescale hasn’t been great.”

The game is expected to be worth in the region of £140 million to the winners.

Lynn-based Norwich supporter Robin Sainty, chairman of the Canaries Trust, said: “The game means a huge amount for lots of different reasons.

“Everyone is aware of how much money it is worth to the club, but economically it also makes a huge difference to Norfolk as a county as well.

“It’s estimated that it increases revenue in the Norwich area, branching out to Lynn, in the region of more than £50 million.

“Children in Norfolk are also more likely to follow Norwich if they are a Premier League club rather than a team in the Championship.

“From a fans’ point of view, historically there have always been a large number of Norwich supporters from Lynn. A lot of them have always followed both clubs and that still remains the case today.”