Sheffield Wednesday then.
A “proper” football club.
It’s a term I often use in conversation about the game without really knowing quite what I mean by it. A mix, I suppose, of the club in questions history, their ground and the many and varying other ingredients that make up the whole football club package.
You could take what Timm Klose said about us shortly after he signed as well. He said something along the lines of how he could “smell” the football in and around Carrow Road. It’s that imperceptible something in the air that makes you feel that you are surrounded, wrapped even, in the essence of football at a certain club.
Everton and Portsmouth are another two that make it on my list.
As far as the Owls are concerned, then, match wise, honours are fairly level pegging between us. We’ve played them on 46 different occasions up to now, winning 14 and losing 18 with 14 ending as a draw.
So they’ve got the edge. But only just. And there is every reason to hope we’ll close that smallish gap even further on Saturday.
When we played them here on August 31st 1974, few in the attendance of 20,714 could have guessed how disparate the two clubs league campaigns would ultimately be that season.
The game itself ended in a 1-1 draw. Ted MacDougall had missed a good chance to put us a goal up midway through the first half before, shortly afterwards, Tommy Craig put the Owls into the lead. It was, however, one that didn’t last very long as, with just five minutes of the second half gone, a cross by Tony Powell, missed completely by MacDougall, was met by Steve Grapes who, making his fifth consecutive start that season, beat Owls keeper Peter Springett with ease.
Grapes, Norwich born and bred, had joined the club straight from school when he was just 15.
A lot was expected of him as he steadily made his way through the Canary ranks and going onto make his senior debut in a 1-0 defeat at QPR on March 23rd 1971, a like for like swap which saw Grapes replace Malcolm Darling on the right side of the Canaries midfield.
Maybe Ron Saunders had it in mind that the young prodigy, one of a group of teenage Canaries that included Steve Goodwin and Glen Self that were intent on making the same journey that Grapes had made – (ie) from schoolboy football through into the Norwich first team?
Self, like Grapes, was Norwich born. He made his debut in October 1970 at Portsmouth and scoring as Norwich won 2-0. He followed that up four days later with another goal, the only one in the game as the Canaries won 1-0 at Portsmouth.
Imagine the excitement today if a young Canary scored on his debut before following it up with another a few days later? Maybe Jacob Murphy will emulate his achievement on Saturday and do just that?
Self’s journey to the top was then cruelly interrupted by injury as well as the eventual arrival of then record-signing David Cross at the club. There was no way Cross wouldn’t play unless he was injured or suspended however, and, after such a promising start to his Norwich career, Self eventually departed for Torquay where he made just three more appearances before retiring from the game.
The first meeting between Norwich and Sheffield Wednesday in the Premier League took place on September 19th 1992 when a lone goal from Rob Newman was enough to give Norwich the win, their fifth consecutive in the league and one which tightened the Canaries grip at the top of the early Premier League table.
Appearing in goal for the Owls on that day was Chris Woods who’d played for Norwich from 1981 to 1986.
Woods remains, rightfully, near the very top of a list of greatest ever Norwich keepers, an accolade which he and Kevin Keelan are the probable joint owners of. He’d joined Norwich for £225,000 after QPR Manager Terry Venables reasoned that he had two better options for the number one shirt in veteran John Burridge and Peter Hucker.
Not El Tel’s greatest piece of transfer acumen.
Woods went onto make 261 senior appearances for Norwich winning, in the process, a League Cup winners medal in 1985, a game in which he might have garnished national renown had he saved Clive Walker’s Sunderland penalty during the match. He certainly had the ball covered and would almost certainly saved it had Walker hit the target.
Walker’s shot went just wide however with, as a result, Dave Beasant earning all the plaudits for the first penalty save in a major final at Wembley, even though the honours should go to one Kevin Keelan who did exactly that for the Canaries back in 1975.
Yes, Aston Villa’s Ray Graydon netted the rebound after Keelan’s initial save but, as the penalty kick is considered taken as soon as the ball is hit, Keelan’s save should have counted as just that with Graydon’s success at the rebound coming from open play.
Another fruitless trip to Carrow Road for the Owls came on August 27th 2001, our 2-0 win coming courtesy of goals from Paul McVeigh and Malky Mackay.
Norwich had started that 2001/02 season in the worse possible manner by losing 4-0 at Millwall, a game that saw Canary debuts for Neil Emblen and Clint Easton.
Emblen was, for me, as good a signing as we could have made at the time. He’d cost Crystal Palace £2,000,000 just four years earlier before rejoining Wolves, the club where he had made his footballing name as a fine attacking midfielder, playing and impressing here in February 1996 when Wolves had won 3-2, despite the Canaries scoring two goals in two first half minutes to retake the lead after Steve Bull had put the visitors ahead.
He went onto make 114 league appearances for Wolves in his second period for the club, scoring seven goals in the process.
He was just what we needed at the time, a strong and hard working central midfielder who made chances for others through his running and eye for a pass, the perfect partner for the more refined skills of his would be partner Phil Mulryne.
Yet it was not to happen. The hamstring injury he sustained in that game at The Den meant he made just one more appearance for Norwich that season, and as a substitute in a 2-1 home win over Burnley. That game saw him aggrevate the original injury and that was him out for the rest of the campaign.
Thus, by the time the Owls arrived at Carrow Road a little over a fortnight after Emblen’s arrival and departure, his place in the side had been taken by Danish midfielder Steen Nedergaard.
His first season in English football, having signed from Odense BK a year earlier had been wrecked by an injury he’d sustained early in his Canaries career, making just 10 league starts during that 2000/01 season, ending the season on a personal high note when, having fully recovered from his various injuries, he started and completed the Canaries last two matches of that season.
One of those was an invaluable 1-0 win at Carrow Road on penultimate Saturday of the season, one which guaranteed the Canaries Division One (now the Championship) football for another season, following Nigel Worthington’s arrival at the club earlier that campaign.
The team that Worthington had graced for much of his playing career was, of course, Sheffield Wednesday whilst the opponents on the day when that 1-0 win, in front of Carrow Road’s biggest attendance of that season and, indeed, for five years, was, yes, you’ve guessed it, our opponents on Saturday, Sheffield Wednesday….
It leaves me wondering what stories will ultimately come out of this weekend’s match against the Owls.
Time will tell. But let’s hope they are good ones…