Alexander Tettey is highly unlikely to have even heard of John Bond – let alone be aware of his impact on Norwich City – but his winning goal provided a fitting tribute to the great man on an evening when the thoughts of Carrow Road were not confined solely to events on the pitch.
The impeccably observed minute’s silence – huge respect to the Doncaster fans – set the tone nicely for a night when it was impossible not to ponder the effect that Bond had on our club.
From a personal perspective, my days of supporting the Canaries pretty much coincided with the arrival of this big bloke from Bournemouth with an equally big old mop of hair (and yes, I am jealous). If my memory serves me correctly, he was closely followed from the South Coast by a shed load of coaches, players, physios, kit men and tea ladies.
Quite how the Cherries felt about this at the time I can only imagine, particularly when you consider how uppity we all were over the prospect of Paul Lambert returning for Messrs Holt, Hoolahan, Howson and Co.
What he brought with him from Dean Court – along with the players, tea ladies etc – was a brand of football that sought to entertain.
No more percentage play; no more power-football; no more ‘get in their faces’ football.
Instead we were delivered a style of play that relied on the ball being passed neatly between those in yellow shirts, and with a certain style and swagger. In the mould of its creator, you could say.
It wasn’t an easy transition and, for players and supporters alike, evolution on that scale doesn’t happen overnight. But it was worth any pain that accompanied it – the same as anything that’s worthwhile.
The number of top level players that passed through his hands during his Carrow Road stint were numerous – too many to mention – but spoke volumes of Bondy’s standing and regard within the game that he got them here. Martin Peters is the obvious one – not too many World Cup winners will be calling Carrow Road home any time soon – but he was one of several.
It seemed he had a real knack of getting the most out of players who, in today’s terms, would be perceived as looking for one final payday.
Except under Bondy you never felt that was the case – he squeezed every last drop out of them, before sending them off to pastures green (and yellow).
His post-match interviews were legendary and I’m sure the hacks loved him. Maybe not quite a ‘media darling’ of Ian Holloway status – but well up there in an era when characters in the game were far more plentiful.
One of his many successful signings was the late Jimmy Neighbour (remember him?) from Spurs. A flying right-winger who fitted in his manager’s ethos of the game to a tee, he was regularly lavished with praise from the boss. Back in the day, ‘little Jimmy Neighbour was magic’ was just one step away from becoming a Bondy catchphrase.
As brilliant as he was, he didn’t get everything right – nobody does.Towards the end of his Carrow Road reign, he broke City’s then transfer fee record when he paid Hadjuk Split £300,000 for the services of one Dražen Mužinić. I can distinctly recall him describing the debut ‘form of Mužinić’ as ‘tremendous’ on a Match of the Day post-match interview. Whilst I’ve no doubt he was ‘tremendous’ on that particular day it didn’t last long – he played just 23 games.
In 1980 the top level of English football was a very different animal than it is today. The foreign invasion had yet to begin, and Mužinić represented a gamble – as it happened, one that didn’t pay-off. But you win some, you lose some – Bondy knew that – and more often than not he got it right.
His seven-year spell at the helm of Carrow Road was his longest managerial spell anywhere and I, for one, am proud of that. Proud that he chose us – above all others – to use as a medium for his footballing ideals. And proud that he turned us from ‘little Norwich’ into a club that now views top flight football as part of its staple diet.
Yes, there have been – and will continue to be – ups and downs, but Norwich City changed forever the day that John Bond walked through the door. And changed for the better.
It was only fitting that we should win on Wednesday night – on a day when one of our heroes left us. And part of me will always be grateful to Alexander Tettey for making that happen.
One of Bondy’s most memorable Carrow Road games was that famous 5-3 defeat against Liverpool in 1980 – remembered for THAT Justin Fashanu goal. With Saturday’s visitors being the very same, how great would it be if we could pay homage to the great man with a win – call it revenge, just 32 years on.
Come on lads, make it happen – let’s make Bondy proud.
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