Watling was another Saunders – fiercely ambitious, driven, single-minded and determined to have only the best for the club he was in charge of. Saunders would have seen in the glint of Watling’s eye a reflection of himself and that was enough for him.
It came at a risk. Remember, this was for a man who had been with his previous club for just twelve competitive matches, during which time, his sole achievement had been to narrowly avoid relegation to the Third Division with them. There was no doubt about it. Watling was pushing the Canary boat out to hitherto deep and unchartered waters.
There was no way Saunders was going to set another standard for Alex Neil to follow by taking Norwich up at the first time of asking. His first game, a 3-0 defeat at Leicester City on August 2, 1969 came five matches into that 1969/70 season, one that saw the Canaries eventually finish in 11th place in the Division Two table.
Norwich had first worn a kit openly showing the maker of the kit at the beginning of the 1975/76 season when the little double diamond of Umbro adorned the shirt. Admiral took over in 1976 before being succeeded by Adidas in 1981. They, in turn, were supplanted by Hummel in 1984.
He made it a hat-trick last season when, with us, he won promotion in the most glorious fashion, bringing about a wholly unexpected day of joy to the players and fans of a team who were, in early December 2014, in 11th place in the Championship, one win in six and seemingly in freefall.
Brown went on to win an FA Cup winners medal with the Hammers in 1964 and, a year later, played alongside Moore at the heart of the defence as part of the club’s victorious European Cup Winners Cup side that beat TSV 1860 München 2-0 in the final at Wembley.
So… Manchester City. They stockpile players like a Star Wars nerd stockpiles action figures. And, more often than not, Manchester City never bother to open the box either.
Units isn’t the word. Stoke City might have, unlike a leopard, changed their footballing spots a little over the last couple of seasons or so, but it wasn’t so long ago that you looked at them stood there pre-match and it was like looking at eleven massive fridge freezers all stood in a row.
The Man Utd website includes options to go to equivalent sites in French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Korean and Japanese. The sum total of hits on these club websites now well exceeds 60 million per month.
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.