Just two wins in our opening seven games and seven points in all, much talk of a disappointing start to a campaign inevitably surrounded the new man whose presence in the side was beginning to be questioned, as were his footballing abilities.
Our best ever season in the top flight as regards trips away from home was the 1988/89 campaign when, under the leadership of Dave Stringer and Mike Phelan, we won nine out of the nineteen played – a feat that was only bettered by Arsenal and Liverpool who finished in first and second place respectively.
Norwich’s route to the final that season had also seen wins over two of the above teams, including an unforgettable 3-0 win at Highbury in the last eight, courtesy of a Graham Paddon hat-trick. Never mind the danger? We laughed in its face and tickled its tummy.
A question was once asked. What, given the choice, would you prefer? England to win the next World Cup or for Norwich to win the FA Cup next season? My answer, one that came out before I’d even had time to think about it was instant. FA Cup? Well yes, of course.
Norwich’s 3-0 destruction of Busby’s side on that snow strewn Saturday afternoon would have surprised even the Canary supporters amongst the 38,000 present, many of whom attending for the opportunity to see Busby’s star laden side in person. United came into the match on the back of eight consecutive First Division victories
Norwich City fans, in the main, seem to have written off 4-4-2. I noted in the build up to both the Everton and Hull City games that, whenever people were, as we do, jotting down their preferred line up for those matches, those that advocated anything like a 4-4-2 formation were subjected to copious amounts of abuse.
Isaac Ryder was a short, stocky but, nonetheless, fast and powerful centre forward, a Norwich man who has the distinction, nay, honour, of being both born and passing away within the confines of our fine city. He was a prolific goalscorer at amateur level.
The League Cup semi-final second leg at Carrow Road, which was played on December 21, turned out to be one of the most remarkable games ever played there – even if it now doesn’t officially exist in any record books! A crowd of 32,000 had turned out that night.
The real problem between Walker and Chase had not been funds for players, but a little bit of security for Walker himself. He had, on his appointment as Norwich manager, signed a contract that was, even for the time, a modest one and, in all likelihood, made him one of the poorest paid managers in the top two divisions, never mind just the Premier League.
If I was Leroy Fer or Gary Hooper and my new chief executive told me that the club’s ambitions over the next three seasons or so culminated in finishing in the top four of the Premier League, I’d tend to believe him.
Yes, a leading player from the Scottish Premier League was being coveted by both Rangers and Norwich. Sound familiar? OK, the Rangers, in this case, were of the Glasgow variety rather than the Queens Park one.
It is, and remains, the most familiar and easily identifiable shirt number in football, forever that of the goalkeeper. We weren’t, after all, singing “England’s number twenty-one” at Fraser Forster whilst he was performing heroics with us during his time at the club.
Think about it. Football and sentiment. The two go together hand in glove, they are inseparable. To suggest that there is no room nor time for sentiment in football, no space for those emotions of the heart to rule the logic of the mind is, quite frankly, preposterous.
In modern football, history means nothing, yet it is the basis of Ipswich’s arguments against us. Yes, we are ‘Premier League’; yes, we have a superior squad, managerial and coaching set-up and financial stability; yes, we may have Category One Academy status under the new and very strict EPPP regulations – but they have ‘history’.
A successful 1975 trip to Kenya. Five wins, 23 goals and lot of opportunities for the players to go on safari which, no doubt, they would have done – after all, the opportunities to picture Ted MacDougall with a headline along the lines of “big game hunter” would have been too good to miss, surely?
Kevin was a good player, there is no doubt about. Neat and tidy in possession, a tendency to play the ball out of defence rather than kick it and, no mean feat for a defender, pitched in with his fair share of goals – 11 in the 1979/80 season.
In the world of football it matters not what level you play at or the status of your club and players. They may not be as earth as iconic as Tardelli’s goal and moment of complete abandon against West Germany a little over three decades ago but, to the clubs and the supporters involved, they are as important, maybe more important than anything the perceived great and the good may have performed before.
It was Sir Alex Ferguson who memorably said, “Football. Bloody hell” after yet another of one of those moments, their last gasp win against Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League Final – “that magical night in Barcelona” as Clive Tyldesley, ever irritatingly, constantly refers to it.
Raymond De Waard had a reasonable enough career in the top divisions of Dutch football to suggest that Bryan Hamilton might have secured a bargain when he signed him from SC Cambuur in 2000… alas his City career, along with that of fellow Dutchman Fernando Derveld, was of the brief variety.
I don’t think there is such a thing as a bad footballer. We can, and we will, call them all of the names under the proverbial sun, we can dismiss them, question their right to even exist and damn their name and ineptitude to the end of time but, in reality, they’ll still have footballing ability we can only dream of.