My piece about an all-time Norwich City XI got quite a reaction, thanks to everyone who contributed and commented, whether via this site, Twitter or elsewhere – the line ups and comments have been legion, as, indeed, has been the scope and variety of names offered, all deemed worthy of a place in an all-time great Canary team – or, at the very least, a spot on the bench. The results, needless to say, have been very interesting.
For starters, the number of different players nominated – which totalled 87! That rather took me aback, but, given the quality of teams and depth of some of the squads that we have had at Carrow Road, should not be too surprising. In historic terms, the furthest back that the poll went was 1947, the year that Ron Ashman made his Canaries debut, calling at all points inbetween up until 2012, the year that saw fellow nominees Seb Bassong, Michael Turner and Robert Snodgrass make their Canary bows. That’s a span of 65 years, during which time a lot of football has been played, results won and lost and players either worshipped or written off.
I’ll focus on those that might qualify as being one of the latter next week – for now, let’s take a closer look at those names who did make the cut.
The player who got the most voted was Mark Bowen who was selected on 29 different occasions. He was closely followed by Steve Bruce, Ian Culverhouse and Darren Huckerby, all of whom were both picked 26 times. The top eleven picks in full were as follows:
Mark Bowen 29
Steve Bruce 26
Ian Culverhouse 26
Darren Huckerby 26
Ian Crook 20
Dave Watson 20
Chris Sutton 20
Kevin Keelan 17
Martin Peters 17
Darren Eadie 14
Ted MacDougall 12
Which rather neatly works out into a definitive all-time great Norwich City XI, as chosen by MyFootballWriter contributors as follows.
1. Kevin Keelan
2. Ian Culverhouse
3. Mark Bowen (C)
4. Steve Bruce
5. Dave Watson
6. Martin Peters
7. Darren Eadie
8. Chris Sutton
9. Ted MacDougall
10. Ian Crook
11. Darren Huckerby
As you might expect, no-one nominated that exact XI as ‘their’ all-time Norwich City XI. But a few people came very close with nine of their choices matching the final outcome – so take a statistical bow David Maidstone, Paul Francis, Patrick Higgins, Kurt, Ben Reigate, Sgncfc, Gary Gowers, Rick and Andy.
However, even these nine would-be Managers disagreed on some elements of their line up with Paul Francis and Sgncfc all eschewing the preferred back four of their peers, that classic Culverhouse-Watson-Bruce-Bowen quartet that was picked by so many of you, with Paul choosing John Polston ahead of Dave Watson whilst Sgncfc found a place for Dave Stringer in his defence in place of Bruce.
With Norwich having been served by some quality goalkeepers over the years, that particular position was as competitive a choice as any amongst contributors, the final toll of keeper votes reading as follows-
Kevin Keelan 17
Bryan Gunn 14
Chris Woods 11
Robert Green 2
John Ruddy 2
Gunny therefore takes his place on the bench alongside the following six players, all of whom just missed out on the first XI pick but who, nonetheless, all had strong support.
Subs- Bryan Gunn, Adam Drury, Dave Stringer, Jeremy Goss, Martin O’Neill, Craig Bellamy and Phil Boyer.
A non-playing reserve for each position will also join the squad, these are the players who nearly made the squad for the day, missing out either because missed out by one vote, or, where votes were the same, do so for reasons of balance. Hence commiserations to Chris Woods, Russell Martin (highest placed of non-playing defenders), Ruel Fox and Ron Davies who will, at least, be travelling with our dream XI and will be responsible for the balls, bibs and cones on the day.
Manager and coaching staff – very tight indeed, ending up (not everyone selected a Manager) as follows:
Dave Stringer 8
Paul Lambert 7
John Bond 3
Ken Brown 1
Mike Walker 1
Mel Machin 2
David Williams 2
Tim Sheppard 1
Dave is therefore our Player Manager with Paul “don’t f****g lose” Lambert as his willing assistant. Mel Machin and David Williams making up the coaching side, along with Tim Sheppard dealing with all the aches and sprains. Tim, of course, currently works in private practice in Norwich and remains one of the nicest people you will ever get the chance to talk football to. We even have a mascot in the form of a certain Paul McVeigh, nominated for that role by a thoughtful contributor.
Quite a formidable playing and management & coaching line up as I am sure you will all (mostly!) agree.
Is the balance of the side right? Paul Francis admitting to feeling he might be cheating a little by including both the Darrens, Eadie and Huckerby, in his side, just as I have as well as a few others, meaning that Darren Eadie may have to start on his less favoured right hand side. However, as a compromise, we can agree to let them switch wings every so often during the game.
There may also be accusations that the side lacks pace in attack – with neither Chris Sutton or, particularly, Ted MacDougall being the most fleet of foot forwards you could select. The reassuring option of Craig Bellamy on the bench however will address that concern – and, with the said two Darren’s having pace in great abundance, we can leave it to both of them to create havoc with that most deadly of footballing weapons, allowing Supermac and Sutty to feed on those chances they will inevitably create.
In terms of the nationalities of the players selected, Norwich’s historical penchant for English talent shows strongly. Of all 87 players ultimately chosen, the breakdown of their nations of birth (rather than, in some cases, the nations they represented nationally or were qualified for) is as follows:
Northern Ireland 2
Republic of Ireland 2
The players born in Cyprus and what was then West Germany (Jeremy Goss and David Phillips respectively) both went onto represent Wales at full international level and are two of eight players chosen by you who have been selected by Wales for a full international appearance whilst they have been at Norwich City, the other six being Ron Davies (who made his Wales debut in 1964 whilst he was at Norwich and who is, as far as I can tell, the first played to have been selected by his nation whilst at Norwich – any advance on that appreciated); Trevor Hockey (who scored his only goal for Wales whilst he was at Norwich, a 2-0 win over Poland in March 1973); Mark Bowen (Norwich’s most capped player, he was selected 35 times for Wales whilst he was at Carrow Road); Iwan Roberts, Craig Bellamy and Robert Earnshaw.
Six players that feature have been capped by Scotland during their time with us – Messrs. MacDougall, Gunn, Fleck, Gary Holt, Russell Martin and Robert Snodgrass.
In total, 25 of the players selected were selected by their countries during the time they were at Norwich City, this includes our current international players.
All seven players to have been selected for England whilst they were at Norwich got the nod from at least one MFW contributor for their side, namely Dave Watson (20 picks); Chris Woods (11); Phil Boyer (9); Mark Barham (4) and Robert Green, Kevin Reeves and John Ruddy (2 apiece).
Positionally between us, the breakdown of players picked was as follows:
As far as the decades in which the players chosen made their name for Norwich, the breakdown there (where decades played in overlap, I have placed players in the one where, in my opinion, they most made an impact during their time at the club – not an easy choice in some instances, so this listing is more subjective than the others) is as follows:
The number of players who got just one vote from you for the side was 39. This included such eclectic names as Clive Woods, Kenny Brown, Danny Mills, Daryl Sutch, Dave Bennett and Louie Donowa and – surprisingly – Dion Dublin. Amongst the players to receive no votes at all, some of whom I had thought would be considered by some of you are Ken Nethercott, Errol Crossan, Jimmy Hill, Hugh Curran, Peter Silvester, Tony Powell, Peter Mendham, Keith Bertschin, Denis Van Wijk, David Williams, Efan Ekoku, Paul McVeigh (although he has made the Mascot the position his own), Phil Mulryne, Leon McKenzie and Marc Edworthy.
I ended my initial piece on the matter by saying, “There are two current players who I can see staking a very firm claim to a place in my side one day, depending on how they perform over the coming seasons but, right here and right now, they are ineligible for selection, something which I hope continues to be the case for several years.”
The players I had in mind were John Ruddy and Sebastian Bassong, both of whom featured in at least one line up submitted. I think that, with that in mind, I’ll put a date in the diary to ask for your updated All Time NCFC XI’s in around a decade’s time – it’ll be interesting to see if either can displace the likes of Kevin Keelan and Steve Bruce in that time. And, much as I respect and admire the two of them, if that does turn out to be the case – we must have some good times ahead!
Next week I’ll be discussing those Norwich City players who might be perceived as the polar opposites as those chosen and discussed here – a Canary XI of disappointment, let down, occasional disgrace and all round mediocrity. In the meantime, if anyone would like a copy of the full spreadsheet I put together that contains all the names and statistics gathered here, let me know, am happy to send you a copy so you can see every one of the mighty yellow and green 87 in all their glory!