2001/02 Division One Play Off Final Shirt

It is unusual for Norwich City to reach the Championship / Division One end of season play-offs. 

Before this current season, Norwich had qualified just twice in the previous 20 seasons at this level since the play-offs were introduced in 1987.

Of course, one of the reasons why we’ve not featured often in the Championship play-offs is that we’ve not needed to.

The Canaries won the title 3 times (2003/04, 2018/19 and 2020/21) in those 20 seasons.

They also finished runners-up once (2010/11) and got relegated to League One once (2008/09).

Wembley glory in 2014/15

There’s absolutely no chance of forgetting our most recent experience with the play-offs.

The Canaries had been relegated from the Premier League in 2013/14 and bounced back at the first time of asking.

Alex Neil replaced Neil Adams as manager in January and achieved a 3rd place finish behind Bournemouth and Watford.

A semi-final with Ipswich was confirmed on the last day of the regular season as Town sneaked into 6th place.

A 1-1 draw at Portman Road was followed with a wonderful 3-1 win at Carrow Road. It was our first Wembley appearance since the Milk Cup final of 1985.

Having lost twice to Middlesbrough in the league, City were perhaps considered the underdog on the day by many.

However, a pretty crazy start to the game saw both sides have shots against the woodwork.

By the 15th minute, Norwich were leading 2-0 following excellent goals from Cameron Jerome and Nathan Redmond.

After that, they never looked seriously troubled by a below par Middlesbrough team which made it a pretty comfortable watch for the rest of the game.

It was a beautifully brilliant way to achieve promotion – beating your local rivals in the semi and then a solid Wembley win.

You can see a full set of programmes for 2014/15 season here and some match worn shirts here.

Cardiff heartbreak in 2001/02

However, it’s our first experience of the play-offs in 2001/02 that I’ve been thinking of recently.

That season had been a bit of a struggle in the league and it took a final day victory over 10-man Stockport County to steal 6th place away from Burnley, who included Paul Gascoigne no less, by a goal difference of just one in our favour.

The reward for that was a two legged semi-final against Wolverhampton Wanderers. 

The 1st leg at Carrow Road started badly with Wolves taking a 1-0 lead into half-time but the game turned completely with the Canaries winning 3-1.

There was an incredibly hostile and tense atmosphere in the return game at Wolverhampton.

For most of the match, Norwich comfortably held off the best efforts of the home side.

A superb 76th strike from Kevin Cooper threatened to ruin the evening but the Canaries held out to win through to the final 3-2 on aggregate.

The final was held at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff as Wembley was being redeveloped.

As a treat, I flew to the game with my father on one the flights the club chartered from Norwich airport.

The stadium’s roof was closed for the game which helped keep the noise within the ground.

It was a great occasion and a good match.

On the day, the Canaries played well and could have won but it just wasn’t to be.

Iwan Roberts’ header in extra-time was cancelled out by a Jeff Horsfield equalizer for the Blues. The game finished 1-1 with Birmingham winning 4-2 on penalties.

You can see a full set of programmes from the 2001/02 season here and match worn shirts here.

Play-off final shirt

Shown above is a one-off shirt produced for the 2002 play-off final. It features the match details above the club badge.

This shirt was made and issued to Paul Hayes.

Paul was a young striker that had just started to be named as a sub in the final games of the season.

He was in the traveling squad but wasn’t involved in the final itself. 

The start of something bigger

The success of the 2001/02 season really renewed the interest and levels of support at Carrow Road.

Average attendances had been around the 15/16k mark in the 5 previous seasons and then jumped to over 18k for this first play-off season.

With the re-development of the new South stand in 2004, average attendance climbed to 24k and beyond in the years that followed.