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He is, as those that have gone before him, a player who merits his selection on what he can do and the threat that he does offer. He’s a wildcard, a joker in the pack, someone you hope might just turn it on and, in doing so, turn a game.
When Norwich signed Roger Gibbins from Oxford United in the summer of 1976, neither he or his club had absolutely no inkling of John Bond’s interest in him on 1st June. Yet, by teatime on 2nd June, he was a Norwich City player, with the first that I, and most Norwich fans, knew of it being when we picked up the following days EDP to see a picture of him alongside Bondy.
“I remember the Millwall game in 2010. We had a vote at the House that night and they wouldn’t let me off attending the vote! I still went to the game though, along with Clive Efford (Labour MP for Eltham and a Millwall fan), we HAD to be back in the House by 10pm for the vote.”
If it had been a triumph for Paul Lambert, then it was also one for Norwich’s centre-half Michael Nelson. His signing had, at the time, symbolised the depths of Norwich’s despair that previous summer, coming, as he did, on a free transfer from Hartlepool United.
He was big, strong, brave and he knew where the goal was. So he should have been embraced by all at a club that was struggling and needed someone like him, not afraid to put boot – or head – in where it hurts and get results by more direct methods.
The yellow and green carnage was unrelenting. Beckford again, Goss, his infinite supplies of energy making him a more and more prominent figure as fitness levels drop in others then compelled himself forward for an umpteenth time
Today’s multi-million pound academy operation at Colney will therefore, for all the changes that have taken place in the game, both in general and at club level, face all of the same issues and problems that its equivalent twenty, thirty, forty, fifty years ago and more would have done. Some players will come good. Whilst others won’t.
Sammy Clingan, remember him? He jumped ship at the first available opportunity in order to sign for Coventry City. Spells at Doncaster Rovers and Kilmarnock, who released him at the end of last season, followed. Sammy is still only 31.
Nowadays defenders are expected to support the attack, to overlap their midfield counterparts if necessary in order to make inroads into opposition territory and get their crosses in. Much like a winger.
Make no mistake about it. Allcock was hot property; a must have; a 1950s version of Wayne Rooney; a powerful, athletic all-rounder with as a good an eye for a pass or goal as he had for a tackle. A genuine contender – a man, no, a boy, in demand.
I felt for Worthington at the time; a manager who, in this recent era of Lambert and Alex Neil, has seen much of what he did and achieved at Norwich pushed into the shadows of long forgotten footballing rooms.
Fans such as myself and, I am sure, thousands of others who remember Gunny’s tenure as both a player and manager will mostly choose to reflect on his time on the pitch rather than off it, time which proved, beyond all reasonable doubt, that he turned out to be one of the best signings the club ever made.
Norwich had maybe caught a few of their more illustrious opponents out with the speed of the bid, another sign, perhaps, that the Canaries under Walker were singing a different tune.
Take a look through some of the first-team squads from the early to mid-1970s for example. Most teams had their own enigmas in there somewhere, except they simply weren’t regarded as mavericks back then.
Peters ended up making 232 League and Cup appearances for Norwich, scoring 50 goals in the process. His form with us was so good that, for a time, he was heavily linked with an England recall. Hardly surprising really.
Good times. As was watching and celebrating Mark Wright’s goal against Egypt, David Platt’s last minute winner against Belgium and Lineker’s heroics against Cameroon in a game that remains my all-time favourite England match.
“Gossy was a great player. He’d get the ball, move it on, hit a great ball, to feet and move on, ready for what he had to do next. He was a great runner, an energetic ball winning midfielder. But he could hit a great pass.”
“That Norwich side, the squad then, we didn’t need Mike Walker or Dixie (John Deehan) shouting at us, or showing us what we had to do. We knew we could do it; we got on and did it. We had a squad of good players, clever and capable players.”