The Saunders mantra was hard work, application, team work – and then some more hard work. Running up the infamous slopes of Mousehold Heath became a feature of training. If Saunders tired of watching them run – well, then the players hopped up it.
The denouement of the 1984/85 season still rankles with a lot of Norwich fans. Following an impressive 2-1 win at a rain soaked Stamford Bridge in our mast game, we were safely sat – or so we thought – in eighteenth place, nine points ahead of Coventry City – and with a better goal difference.
David McNally and Alan Bowkett are cut from exactly the same kind of business cloth as Robert Chase. Their brief, their overwhelming directive has been to secure the long-term financial stability of the football club. The business.
Following Lambert’s confident, confrontational entry into the wolves’ lair, the result was never in doubt. Norwich, their resolve already strong and resolute, feasted from that confidence and, let’s be honest, the Clough-like arrogance of their Manager and tore into their opponents, the eventual 5-0 scoreline doing scant justice to the Canaries superiority on the day.
“Norwich have always had that reputation. With respect to that, Gordon Bennett was brilliant. I think his title was Youth Development Officer. He helped me a great deal, and not just with regard to the football – he even helped me set up my first bank account, and that’s the one I still use today!”
“Vitesse played very well in the first half of that first game, in Norwich. In fact, it was unbelievable, and a real shock to our systems. It was 0—0 at half time and we all came in, sat down, looked at each other and thought, ‘OK, what are we doing here?’…”
“… David Williams was the best coach I ever had the pleasure to work for, or with, and his impact on Norwich City should never be underestimated, as in my eyes, he was the man who should have taken more plaudits for the club’s success than anyone.”
So picture the scene. A windswept, deserted and barren area of moorland. The land gently rises and falls, the grey skies and howling wind punctuated by the occasional echo of a ravens harsh call as the mist scurries over the peaks of the moor, finding havens to sit in, heavily, giving that sense of dank, dark no-hope. Yet, on the prow of one of those misty slopes stands a man, a warrior.
The story of Jimmy Bone could have never been told had he acquiesced to the oval ball philosophy of his School. Yet fortune particularly favours the brave hearted of Stirling and Bone found an outlet for his real sporting love with his local boys brigade from where he joined and played for prominent local junior sides Airth Castle Rovers and Bannockburn Rovers.
Hindsight is everywhere you look in football. It is worn underneath every shirt, trodden under every blade of grass and written large into the hopes and dreams of both players and spectators, especially the latter, in prolific abundance. “If only…” – two words that, whenever applied to our national game can prove, once and for all that, no matter who your team are, if they possessed the gift of hindsight, then they’d win every game, trophy and plaudit that is possible to win.
Ted was Clint Eastwood swathed in yellow. I could imagine him bearing down on the goal, ball at feet, that bad ass look on his face as he dismissed the fearful goalkeeper obstructing his path to more glory….”I know what you’re thinking: ‘Does he shoot left? Or right? Or straight at me?’ Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve lost track myself. But being I’m Ted MacDougall, the most powerful striker in the First Division, then, whichever way I go, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well do ya, punk?”
So what, exactly, leads to experienced and well respected Premier League managers like David Moyes to play that card and seemingly be resolute in their reluctance to give any praise or credit towards us when, as on Saturday, we put on a decent performance and get the reward that the attacking enterprise we showed for much of the second half deserved?
When Mike was appointed Norwich Manager in the summer of 1992, weeks before we commenced our first ever season of football as Premier League club, fellow MyFootballWriter columnist Kevin Baldwin astutely commented that, far from being well known, Walker was not even “a household name in his own household”
That 4-4-2 system-and all variants of it since-has rarely employed a winger in the traditional sense (ie) the touchline hugging and fleet of foot maverick whose sole job was to get the ball and run at the opposing full back, his intent being to reach the touchline before delivering a cross for two central strikers to feed off.
That Liverpool team of the late 70’s/early 80’s were indeed welded to the production scheduling of Match Of The Day and The Big Match and, much like the FA Cup obsession that TV producers now have with Manchester United, they have maintained the love-in with that Liverpool side by using as many of them as possible in a ‘pundit’ type role.
Now, regardless of whether either Hooper or Graham are worth that sort of money or not – and time will tell, for whoever the lucky purchasers are – it does strike me that the days of acquiring a bargain, both in the art world and footballing one, are fast drawing to a close.
Most of us will be aware of the important statistics that relate to Norwich City. I won’t reel them off here because you will know them. Record number of appearances made; highest goalscorer; most number of points in a season. But we cherish them. Because they relate to our club. Some seem set in stone, never to be beaten.
For much of that inaugural Premier League season, Norwich topped the table. At one point we were, and read this slowly, EIGHT points clear at the top. Of the Premier League. Extraordinary. One bloke’s even written a book about that crazy season, that one of Fantasy Football when we could, maybe should, have won it.
The celebrity fan is a must spot for any photographer or TV company covering the game. It seems to be a matter of professional pride for them as to how swiftly they can seek out, focus on and display them for all the world to see. We’re all used, of course, to the obligatory shot of Delia that accompanies any televising of a Norwich match-live or highlights-but she’s an easy target, especially at Carrow Road.
Confronted with the twice annual transfer window madness and inevitably fielding questions about who Norwich might be signing this month, Chris Hughton has been his usual calm, considered and thoroughly professional self. No prospects for any Sky news teams of intercepting, a’la Harry Redknapp, our Manager in his Range Rover, interviewing him about the latest Venezuelan striking sensation linked with the club.