Carrow Road has lost another one of its most treasured sons after it was announced today that '59ers hero Ken Nethercott has passed away, aged 82.
Coming hard on the heels of the death of '70s favourite Graham Paddon and that of all-time top goalscorer Johnny Gavin, Nethercott's passing will rob the club's Hall of Fame of another of its most revered stars.
“In my opinion he was the greatest of them all – even better than Keelan, and I say that having played with both of them,? said his 59ers team-mate Terry Allcock this afternoon.
?His character, and the quality of his work was excellent, his positional sense was second to none, as was his bravery, obviously. And his catching of crosses and his use of the ball was immaculate.?
Nethercott's lasting moment of Canary fame came, of course, in that FA Cup sixth round tie at Bramall Lane, on the 28 February, 1959.
Having dislocated his shoulder with half an hour of the game remaining, Nethercott played on with one arm hanging ?useless? by his side, according to a report at the time.
But he and his defence held firm and, in front of 57,000 spectators, City – then of Division Three South – would earn themselves a 1-1 draw and a replay back at Carrow Road. With Sandy Kennon in goal, the Canaries would march into the semi-final and on into FA Cup folklore on the back of a 3-2 win.
?I'm glad it was Sandy out there; not me,? a typically modest Nethercott would say after the replay. ?He's a much better keeper than I am.?
Almost half a century on and Allcock still vividly remembers events at Bramall Lane.
“Of course there were no substitutes in those days, so we all played on with injuries. I played with a broken leg for 75 minutes once, and Ken stayed in goal with one hand. Having broken a collarbone myself, I know painful it was,? he said.
Bar one Hospital Cup game, that fateful trip to Bramall Lane proved to be Nethercott's finest – and last – hour. He never played another competitive game for the club and would join Wisbech that summer.
?It was a sad ending. He was right up there as one of the club's greatest players – he was an England B international, which was the second team of the full squad. Everyone I've spoken to had great respect for him both as a man and as a player.?
Born in Bristol, Nethercott signed professional forms for the Norfolk club in the summer of 1947 and would go on to make 416 appearances for the Canaries in a 12-year career at Carrow Road.
“I can't praise him highly enough. He had great character, dedication, and humility, really,? said the city funeral director.
“He was old brigade, but a very loveable man, and very popular with the players. He was a senior member of the team, and a great help to me when I came here.?
Allcock, speaking in Canary Greats, would offer another example of Nethercott's modest ways.
?He was so quiet,? he recalled. ?The best I can explain it is that we played at Tranmere once under atrocious conditions and he virtually played them on his own.
?And when we came in the dressing room he went round and shook everybody by the hand and said: 'Well played!'. That was Kenny. He was a marvellous guy.?
For Allcock himself, it has proved to be a difficult fortnight. Being a funeral director is never easy, but when you're presiding over the departure of two such Canary greats it is even harder.
?Whenever a colleague has passed on I've had the opportunity to look after them, but it's obviously a very sad and emotional time – as it was with Graham (Paddon) last week,? he said.
?You've been very friendly with these people, and you know their nearest and dearest as well, so it's a difficult time.?
Nethercott would remain in Norwich and would work in the chocolate waste department at the old Rowntree Mackintosh factory on Chapelfield now, of course, long gone.
There he would be joined by a young Martin Nudds, whose memories of the 59ers' legend say just as much about the man as Allcock's memories of his playing pal.
?He was a lovely man – so sofly spoken; so laid back,? said Nudds, 41, with one very special memory Nethercott – one for whom professional football arrived two generations too early. Like Gavin – and, indeed, Paddon – there was none of the riches on offer to today's Carrow Road stars.
Gavin ran a pub; Nethercott worked in a chocolate factory.
?We used to go for a break and me and my mate would say: 'Do you want a fag, Ken?' and he'd say 'Yes!' and we'd flick one at him. And he had these huge hands and he'd pluck the fag out of the air every time,? said Nudds, with Nethercott then in his 60s.
?We'd flick one near the ground and he'd catch it first time. Flick one above his head, he'd catch it first time. He never missed. He still had these fantastic reactions even then. He was just a magician.?
He was, said Nudds, from a different generation; born of different stuff. ?He'd show us this big scar on his shoulder – he was clearly a brave footballer. He'd go in where it would hurt.
?It's just a shame that he never got the recognition – and the money – that he deserved at the time. But he was a lovely man. I can't speak highly enough of him.?
Ken Nethercott died at the N&N University Hospital this morning after a short illness. He leaves a wife, Edith, and a daughter, Sally.