I went to pieces, says Delia

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The Independent Football

Delia Smith was delighted for her beloved Norwich City last night when the club's promotion to the Premiership was confirmed.

The television chef and the club's joint majority shareholder at Carrow Road said: "When the moment came I went to pieces. The first thing I wanted to do was go and congratulate Nigel [Worthington, the manager]. What a fantastic bunch the players are - they've held their nerve and I'm proud of them. Tonight also belongs to the fans, I'm delighted for them."

There were jubilant scenes at Carrow Road, where the reserves were playing Brentford and the large crowd was kept up to date with the score from Selhurst Park where Sunderland, in third, lost to Crystal Palace, to end their chances of catching the Canaries as they are 14 points adrift with four games left.

Worthington immediately set his sights on the title. "It's been a lot of hard work," he said, "but I'm proud to be manager of this club. The one thing we have got to do now is finish it off. I want to get a medal for the players."

The promotion ends Norwich's nine-year exile from the top flight and Malky Mackay, the City defender, hailed the achievement as a tribute to the teamwork throughout the club.

The 32-year-old centre-half was ecstatic. "It is unbelievable," he said. "The manager has been in charge for three years. The first season he kept us up, then he got us to within a penalty kick of winning the play-offs and last season we were very close."

Mackay listened to the Palace game on the radio. "I had to end up turning it off and going to have a bath," he said.

"This season we have really gone for it. The board have invested and brought in two or three quality players and it has paid off. Well done to the board, the managers and the players."

Mackay did, however, maintain that Norwich would not be able to invest heavily in an attempt to stay up. "We came close to going out of business a few years back and it was a lesson learned," he said.

"Delia Smith brought the club back from the brink and it has been a very disciplined stewardship in the past few years. It is a tight-run ship. There is not a massive amount of money at the club, but what money has been spent has been spent well. The likes of Darren Huckerby, Mathias Svensson and Leon McKenzie have given us a real cutting edge and it has paid off this season."

This season, backed by the funding of Smith, the Canaries moved to the top of the table before Christmas and - apart from two hours on Easter Monday - have stayed there ever since. Norwich, who thrashed Walsall 5-0 at Carrow Road on Saturday, will now battle it out with West Brom, whom they lead by two points, for the title.

UPS AND DOWNS SO FAR

FIRST DIVISION
Promoted: Norwich.
Relegated: Wimbledon, Bradford.

SECOND DIVISION
Relegated: Wycombe.

THIRD DIVISION
Promoted: Doncaster.

CONFERENCE
Promoted: Chester.

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