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Norwich kick off season at home to Colchester

PUBLISHED: 11:00 17 June 2009 | UPDATED: 10:11 06 July 2010

Norwich City will face Colchester United at home for the opening game of the 2009/10 season on Saturday 8th August, before a trip to Exeter City the following weekend.

Norwich City will kick off their League One season with an East Anglian derby - with Colchester United visiting Carrow Road on the opening day.

The Canaries' first match, on Saturday, August 8, pits them against their closest neighbours and looks certain to attract a packed house as Bryan Gunn's team begin their bid to regain Championship status.

But City will certainly be clocking up the miles in the first week of the new campaign. Their Carling Cup first round trip to Yeovil on Tuesday, August 11, will be followed by another marathon trek to the West Country, with the first league away game at Exeter City four days later - a quick return to St James' Park for new signing Matthew Gill.

And there is a third away trip in the space of eight days with Brentford providing the opposition on Tuesday, August 18.

Colchester were beaten 5-1 on their last league visit to Norwich in 2008, when both clubs were in the Championship. They were back for a pre-season friendly last year, which finished 2-2.

Assistant manager Ian Butterworth welcomed what should be a cracking fixture with which to begin life in League One.

“It's a local derby, certainly an attractive game and probably a full house for that one,” said Butterworth, studying the fixture list for the first time this morning. “But at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter too much because we have to play them all home and away at some point.”

The opening game will bring Gunn, Butterworth and coach Ian Crook up against former City team-mate Ian Culverhouse, assistant to manager Paul Lambert at Colchester.

There was a wry smile from Butterworth at the prospect of successive trips to Yeovil and Exeter.

He said: “That's life, that's football and that's what we have to get used to. There is going to be a bit of travelling in this league and we and the supporters will have to get used to it.

“There are not really any new grounds for me after being with Cardiff and Hartlepool. One thing that has changed is that there are some very good playing surfaces at grounds in this league. It's not like the old days playing on muddy grounds.”

Former City skipper Butterworth, who joined Gunn's management team from Hartlepool in February, makes a quick return to Victoria Park with the away game on Saturday, August 29, but was philosophical at the prospect.

“People always talk about going back to your old clubs, but really it's just one game out of 46,” he said.

Bryan Gunn told the club's official website: "We're delighted to be starting with a local derby against Colchester United at Carrow Road. Hopefully it will be a sell-out crowd at Carrow Road and the fans can roar us on to a winning start.

"A good start is vital. We then play all three of the sides promoted from League Two and that will be a good challenge. You would expect those sides to be buoyant coming off the back of successful seasons.

"We always knew this season was going to involve a lot of travelling for the fans and for the squad and early games have us travelling to Yeovil in the Carling Cup, followed by another trek to the south-west in the next game at Exeter.

"Our support home and away is going to be a crucial factor for us this season. Our home form needs to improve dramatically and a buzzing Carrow Road will definitely increase the chances of that happening. Meanwhile we've been fortunate enough to enjoy fantastic support from a really loyal band of travelling fans despite some poor seasons on the road - again, they will be a massive help for us during this campaign."

Christmas brings a Boxing Day home game against last season's beaten League One play-off finalists, Millwall, and a trip to Walsall two days later.

There are potentially big home games against Southampton (February 20) and Leeds (March 27), with City wrapping up their season at home to Carlisle.

Two Saturdays, November 7 and 28, are set aside for the FA Cup first and second round, respectively, with City entering the competition at the first hurdle for the first time since 1959.

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