The football club was formed in 1888 as the works team of Norwich Union. They became members of the Norwich & District Business House League and were Division One champions in 1926–27, 1946–47 and 1947–48. The club then moved up to the East Anglian League, entering Division One in 1955. When the league merged with the Norfolk & Suffolk League to form the Anglian Combination in 1964, the club became members of Section A of the new league. Norwich Union were Premier Division runners-up in 1987–88, before winning the division the following season. After winning the Norfolk Junior Cup in 1998–99, they were Division Two champions in 1999–2000. In 2002–03 the club were promoted back to the Premier Division. After becoming AFC Norwich in 2008, in 2009 the club was renamed as Spixworth. They won the league's Mummery Cup in 2010–11 and 2014–15, and were runners-up in the Premier Division in 2012–13, 2013–14 and 2015–16. In 2016–17 the club won the Premier Division title, earning promotion to Division One of the Eastern Counties League. They were then renamed Norwich CBS after relocating to Bowthorpe.
The journey by train was made from Cheshunt via Audley End to Norwich. I used a discounted rail voucher resulting in a return fare of £5:00 (thanks again Martin). A late breakfast at the Glass House (J D Wetherspoon) set me up nicely for an amble through the charming streets of this fine city, before embarking on the hike to Bowthorpe where the Football Development Centre is located. Once out of the centre it is one straight road. My amble took just less an hour and a half. However, there are a couple of bus routes that would assist (number 22 passes the entrance to the ground).
The main arena is part of the wider FDC complex, which boasts a number of outside five-a-side football pitches. The separated enclosed arena used by Norwich CBS is a tidy venue and along the main side of the ground where you enter, is a covered seated stand. This is the only area of cover but is more than adequate for this level and the crowds attracted. There is a neat looking boardroom and a separate hut selling refreshments. On my visit this was hot drinks, crisps and confectionery. There was also an empty pie oven, which indicates a more varied tariff.
The toilet facilities for the ground are portaloos. More substantial toilet facilities and a licensed bar are located in the main building of the Centre. The players changing facilities are located in a separate building outside the main arena. It is possible to watch the match from behind either goal but the remaining side, where the team management and substitutes are located is out of bounds to spectators.
This match was highly entertaining and although the home side edged proceedings in terms of chances created, visitors May & Baker ensured that this match was a real competition and would be a difficult one to call. An early goal for Norwich CBS was not added to in the first period, with the visitors growing in confidence. Despite an overcast but dry start, it wasn’t long before it got quite dark overhead and before long we were watching the match in fine rain. This match was my intended destination the previous weekend, but had succumbed to the weather. On this occasion the pitch held up well but heavier rain might have resulted in a different story.
A leveller for May & Baker in the second period had those assembled anticipating that this match would be settled on penalties. This looked highly likely as a couple of crosses from the right just eluded the Norwich strikers, until in the closing minutes the home side was rewarded with the winning goal. Possibly offside methinks, but they were the better side. Full credit to the opposition for ensuring a tight contest. A retired colleague was also present and kindly gave me a lift back to Norwich Station, where I caught the 17:20 Stansted Airport service.