Apologies, but Stan couldn't resist. All this talk this week of the greatest Canary XI has got the old bor thinking. It being a wet Bank Holiday weekend and all…
Besides for some days now, Stan has been scribbling names on the back of his beer mat, recalling goals and games gone by, and arguing the toss with all and sundry that Ian Davies was the most under-rated left-back in the club's history.
Has to be said, mind, that Stan's Canary memories do not tend to be sound-tracked by z-list celebrities or local pub bands. In Stan's virtual celebration of Canaries past, you'd be more likely to see a speech by one of the Man U mob who tore down the Barclay in 1977, or undersung heroes – Steve Govier, say, or Dennis Van Wyk – reminiscing about days gone by.
Football, after all, is not – and never will be – mere entertainment; it's a culture and a projection of local identity. The bloke who used to push the trolley round the ground selling hot chocolate had more interest to Stan than Jamelia.
Anyway, down to business. This, of course, will be controversial.
Stan, once upon a time, pretended that Paul Haylock was his favourite player just to annoy his best pal Chris. As such, Stan makes no claim to a definitive selection. Stan has also only included players that he has actually seen play, and he has included a man whose star in most City supporters' eyes has fallen into the (ITV) gutter. So be it – tough choices have to be made, eh Mr Roeder?
In goal, Kevin Keelan. This was a tough one. Chris Woods was a better keeper; Gunny was a true hero; Greeno was more composed than KK. But Keelen transcended both time and gravity during his stint between the Carrow sticks. There were times when his antics would leave Stan's heart in his mouth, and days when his having bare hands almost got Stan to take up knitting.
But some of his performances, usually against Man United, were simply remarkable. Keelan rose with the cub, from Division Two also-rans to Division One regulars. He toughed it out at a time when keepers regularly got clobbered, and survived to enjoy the beautiful game brought to our fine city by (Sir) John Bond. Kevin Keelan was Mr Norwich City for a long time, and any Greatest XI simply must include him.
The full-backs: Mark Bowen and Ian Culverhouse. Stan likes partnerships. These two came from Spurs and, over time, became stalwarts of the yellow and green. Culverhouse was the more natural defender; Bowen began his time with us as a midfielder.
Both were class; gifted footballers with cool heads and an integral part of our most successful team. Due mention should be made to Colin Sullivan and Ron Ashman, two more Canary legends. But just flick through the YouTube clips of City between 1986 and 1994 and you'll see all you need to see.
The centre backs: Dave Watson and Steve Bruce. Again, the Forbes-Stringer partnership runs this pair close. Butterworth, Linegan and Polston also deserve due mention. But Stan can remember watching both Bruce and Watson perform heroics at the back of the City defence. Watson's pace and strength was phenomenal, and he deserved more than the six caps that he won for England.
That he, like Bruce, went on to win a Division One Championship medal should not be surprising. As for Bruce, his Milk Cup semi-final header against Ipswich is enough to earn him the freedom of the city for so long as he and his heirs want it.
Centre midfield: He comes the controversy. For Stan, the best centre midfield players to have ever worn the yellow and green are Martin Peters and Andy Townsend. Peters' selection is, of course, a no-brainer. Just YouTube Norwich v Liverpool or Norwich v Arsenal and watch the master at work. He made the game look both easy and graceful.
He scored goals, set up goals, and helped mastermind City's transition to playing the 'Norwich way'. Stan loves Martin Peters, end of story. Townsend's selection is more contentious.
For one, it means dropping Crooky. For another, it means paying respect to a man who seems to think we are the proverbial s*** on his shoe. Nevertheless, he was a fantastic player and fundamental to the success we achieved in the late 1980s. Sorry Crooky (but at least Stan didn't throw in his Gary Brooke wildcard).
Wingers: As Stan's Greatest XI are attuned to playing the 'Norwich way', then two attacking wide men are needed. So many spring to mind. On the left, Hucks, Eadie and Jimmy Neighbour must do battle. Now, Eadie was the most well-rounded player, and Neighbour was Stan's first real Canary hero. But Hucks won us the league.
As such, Hucks gets the gig, just. No doubt, this will be the cherry on his professional cake. On the right, Fox and Disco Dale rise above the rest. Of the two, Stan has to plump for Disco, simply for the step-over – pure class.
Centre Forwards: Again, so many fine players have played up front for City. Just off the top of Stan's head, Iwan, Sutton, Allcock, Boyer, MacDougall, Johnny Gavin and David Cross would all be banging on the door of any team's Greatest XI. For Stan, however, Kevin Drinkell and Robert Fleck were the two who most embodied what it should mean to be a Norwich player.
Drinkell, in particular, was magnificent: strong, good in the air and on the floor, and capable of a blinding finish. Fleck, meanwhile, was more of a joker, but you cannot argue with his scoring record. Both men played in Norwich teams that were at the top of their game. Where others, such as Sutton, peaked after their Norwich career, Drinks and Flecky did so at Carrow Road. Great men playing in great times.
So there it is: Keelan, Culvershouse, Bowen, Bruce, Watson, Huckerby, Townsend, Peters, Gordon, Drinkell and Fleck.
The subs would be Woods, Crook, Stringer, Sutton and Eadie.
As for manager – John Bond made Stan laugh, Ken Brown, Mike Walker and Worthy each made Stan proud. But Dave Stringer got us playing the best football and made the transition from great player to great manager. For Stan, Stringer is King – all hail. On the ball, City …