If Burnley v Norwich fixtures are a rarity, City’s next away trip is to a familiar foe – Crystal Palace. With over 110 matches stretching back to the outbreak of the First World War, there has been plenty of drama, excitement, highs and lows to get our teeth into.
Here are some of the highlights of when the Canaries faced the Eagles….
Although there is little record of those very first encounters, Crystal Palace joined the Southern League a year after City, with both teams competing in the 1906/07 season. With promotion to the Football League a closed shop (invite only) they would spend the next few seasons fluctuating up and down the table before the league was suspended because of war.
The beginnings of the First World War also marked the first documented game between Norwich and Crystal Palace. It came in the 1914 FA Cup, with the honours going to Palace after a 2-1 home win, with the same score for both home sides during that season’s Southern League campaign.
In those days, the FA Cup final was played at Crystal Palace. This venue was reserved for the cream of English football. Palace, despite being the local side, never played there, in fact they shared something in common with Norwich at the time. Both played at a ground called The Nest.
Norwich made just the one solitary trip to Palace’s Nest, losing 1-0, with both teams now competing in Division 3 South.
By 1924, Palace had moved to their current home, Selhurst Park, and Norwich suffered a heavy defeat on only their second visit to the stadium, a 7-1 thrashing.
Whether at The Nest or Selhurst, City generally had an unhappy time losing nine consecutive games in South London. In contrast, Palace suffered on trips to Norfolk. In the decade between 1948 and 1958 Norwich won eleven home games in a row and, stretching back even further, they had won 16 out of 15 home fixtures against The Glaziers (more on that name later).
After meeting 42 times in the Southern League, both began to progress up the footballing ladder. Crystal Palaces first tasted top-flight football in 1969/70, Norwich matching their achievement just three seasons later, in 1972/73.
Norwich’s debut season in the top tier included a 0-2 win at Selhurst Park on the 30th September 1972. It was only the second time that City had won away at that level (The first… was a famous win at Portman Road!).
Despite a promising start in their new surroundings, City found themselves, in a now all too familiar, relegation scrap. Palace were struggling too and by the time they arrived at Carrow Road on 24th April 1973, it was ‘do or die’ for either club.
The importance of the game and the consequences of defeat means it is the most significant fixture between these two old rivals. The outcome, a Carrow Road explosion, as Norfolk boy and club stalwart, Dave Stringer, swooped to head a winner in the last-minute. City won 2-1 after that late drama, a victory that ultimately clinched survival for another season, the South Londoners left occupying the final relegation place.
The Eagles, as they were now known (up to 1973 they were nicknamed The Glaziers as most of the original squad from when the club was founded worked in the glass industry), suffered back to back relegations before bouncing back to the top flight under youthful coach, Terry Venables.
Venables had built a side that was billed ‘the team of the ‘80s’, but, much like England’s ‘golden generation’, it was a tag that the club never lived up to. In fact, at the end of the 1980/81 season, both Palace and Norwich were relegated.
It was the beginning of an unwanted hat-trick, as on three occasions Norwich and Palace have both been relegated from Division 1 / Premier League in the same season.
The second of those joint demotions came In 1994/95 where the 0-1 away win was particularly impressive as it was Norwich’s fifth triumph at Selhurst Park in their last six visits. Despite the four points earned against Crystal Palace, Norwich still finished the season third from bottom, but it was Palace that would end that season feeling particularly hard done by as they became victims of a Premier League revamp reducing it from 22 to 20 teams.
This meant that they were also relegated despite finishing fourth from bottom and amassing 45 points.
Ten years later, In 2004/05 they were both at it again.
They had shared a promotion the previous season, City as champions and Palace via the play-offs. Norwich’s league winning side contained a core of ex-Eagles including Marc Edworthy, Leon McKenzie and Mathias Svensson.
With City back in the big-time for the 2004/05 season, it was perhaps, a slight anti-climax that their first Premier League home game in nine years was against Crystal Palace. A Darren Huckerby shoulder charge, run and goal, the highlight in a 1-1 draw.
The two were again evenly matched in the return fixture at Selhurst Park. By now both were in a relegation scrap. Sandwiched between wins versus Manchester United and Newcastle, and bolstered with Dean Ashton in attack, Norwich led 1-3 only for Palace to comeback (remember Andy Johnson and penalties!) to claim a 3-3 draw.
Ultimately, a win that day would have kept Norwich up. In reality, the dropped points saw both Norwich and Palace drop.
Back in the Championship, this is where the majority of Norwich / Palace games have taken place. One particular game, of note, at this level, came on 5th May 1996. The match marked the conclusion of another disappointing season and a 16th place finish but for Norwich fans everywhere this was party time.
The reason, it was the first game in the post-Chase era. The Chase in question was Robert Chase, chairman since November 1985 and, since the break-up of Mike Walker’s team and City’s subsequent relegation and struggle, a hugely unpopular and despised character.
Carrow Road was a toxic place in those days, the bitterness to the extent that protest and violence was a common occurrence in NR1.
After a season of torment, Chase’s department sparked mass celebration. It was inevitable that Norwich would win 0-1 at Selhurst Park, thanks to a Darren Eadie strike.
Soon Delia would assume the role that Robert Chase held and now both Palace and Norwich are back in the Premier League. The connection between fans and team is now a million miles away from 1995/96 with positivity running throughout the club.
Let’s just hope Crystal Palace don’t end the 2019/20 in the relegation zone, for if history is anything to go by Norwich City are likely to be joining them …