The official visitor website for Norfolk
Carrow Road

Learn how to sing 'On The Ball, City'

You may think Norwich City Football Club is best known for being owned by National Treasure Delia Smith, but did you also know that their fans sing what is thought to be the world’s oldest football chant that is still in use?

Sung just before kick-off and then routinely though the game when the fans feel their players need a bit of geeing-up, ‘On The Ball, City!’ was adopted by the club when it was founded in 1902, and was thought to have been used by other local teams before that.

Sometimes abbreviated to ‘OTBC’, it’s thought the song was written in the 1890s by one Albert T Smith who later became a director of Norwich City.

Kick it off, throw it in, have a little scrimmage,

Keep it low, a splendid rush, bravo, win or die;

On the ball, City, never mind the danger,

Steady on, now's your chance,

Hurrah! We've scored a goal.

City!,

City!,

City!

Listen to 'On The Ball, City!' when Norwich City play local rivals Ipswich

Other things you need to know about the Canaries...

They’re nicknamed The Canaries after the yellow birds who were brought to the city in the 1560s by refugee Flemish weavers fleeing the Inquisition in the Spanish Netherlands. An early club chairman was a keen breeder and it was he who changed their strip to yellow and green.

Norwich City FC used to play at The Nest. Yes, really!

Die-hard fans sit in The Barclay, named after Captain Evelyn Barclay, a former vice president of the club, who donated the cost of roofing the original stand.

In October 1938 King George VI became the first monarch to watch a football league match when he visited Carrow Road to watch The Canaries play Millwall. He must have been impressed… he left after 20 minutes.

When Celtic play Rangers in Scotland it is called the Old Firm Derby. When Norwich play their nearest rivals, Ipswich Town, it is called the Old Farm Derby. Geddit?

Performing at the Radio 1 Big Weekend 2015 in Norwich, Snoop Dog enamoured himself to the local populace by sporting a Norwich City Football Club replica shirt.

Explore Norwich

Snoop Dog

Learn the full version of 'On The Ball, City!'

The fans only sing one verse of what was originally a longer song…

In the days to call, which we’ve left behind,

Our boyhood’s glorious game,

And our youthful vigour has declined

With its mirth and its lonesome end;

You will think of the time, the happy time,

Its memories fond recall

When in the bloom of your youthful prime

We’ve kept upon the ball

Kick off, throw in, have a little scrimmage,

Keep it low, a splendid rush, bravo, win or die;

On the ball, City, never mind the danger,

Steady on, now’s your chance,

Hurrah! We’ve scored a goal.

Let all tonight then drink with me,

To the football game we love

And wish it may successful be

As other games of old,

And in one grand united toast

Join player, game and song

And fondly pledge your pride and toast

Success to the City club.

A Norwich City fan rants on Radio Five Live

More Inspiration