Picture the scene.
You’re at your local. It’s Quiz Night.
The scores are level pegging and you are about to enter the final round. The tension is unbearable, so much so that there have been accusations of covert texting in response to some of the harder questions. So it’s got a bit heated on occasion, especially between yourselves and the up their own backsides team from that consultancy or whatever the hell it is they do from just down the road who have matched you, point for point, for the entire evening.
Yet now it’s now the final round. And it’s your chance to shine. At last. You’ve sat there, quiet as an Arsenal fan at the Emirates through the interminable rounds about Dr Who, Harry Potter and the assorted films of Matt Damon and are now ready to pounce, to make your presence felt. Because the tiebreaker question is about Norwich City Football Club.
This is why you were chosen, this is why the bizarre collection of antiques and curios on your team asked you to step onboard, you are the trump card, the Ace of Spades, the X-Factor that will bring you the glory, the victory to your team and a collective look of despair on the faces of Pompous plc across the bar.
Indeed, some of their people will probably see to it that some of their other people will be fired in the morning because of this. Because of you. It feels good.
All of your team’s eyes are on you as the question is asked. Death or glory.
“Name any father and son who have both represented Norwich City as professional footballers?”
You’re in there immediately, pouncing with all the speed and venom of Robert Fleck seizing on a half chance, you blurt the answer out, you wait for the ecstasy, the slaps on the back, the motley collection of prizes awaiting the winning team, hell yes, you may end up with the Lynx for Men Gift Duo but who cares?
“John Bond and Kevin Bond” you shout. And, straight away, you know that you are wrong.
Which of course you are. Horribly so. Infact, as Edmund Blackadder might say, no-one has ever been more wrong since Neville Chamberlain stood outside 10 Downing Street on an autumn evening in 1938, vowing that, “…I believe it is peace for our time.”
Thus, and drawing a veil upon your humiliation and embarrassment, we will consider the question in hand a little bit further.
John Bond and his son, Kevin are, perhaps, the best known example of both father and son representing Norwich City. However, John never played for us. His playing career was primarily at West Ham United where he made nearly 400 league appearances between 1950 and 1966. He also spent three years at Torquay United, making nearly 150 more league appearances for them. He may well have kicked every ball, made every tackle and ran the whole nine yards for the Canaries as our manager. But he never did it whilst wearing that famous shirt of yellow and green.
Neither did Ken Brown. His son, Kenny junior made 25 league appearances for us before moving onto, amongst others, West Ham and Millwall. So, whilst he and his esteemed father may well both have the honour of representing the Hammers as players, Dad never played for Norwich in a competitive first team game.
Yet there are examples of both fathers and sons representing us on the field of battle.
Mike and Chris Sutton is one.
Derrick and Phil Lythgoe another.
And, of course, Isaac and Terry Ryder.
And whilst most Canary fans will be familiar with the first two pairings on that list, not so many will be with the final one.
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 enjoyed some prolific goalscoring form for Heigham YMCA, City Wanderers and the Norfolk County XI, joining the Canaries in January 1924.
Unfortunately for Isaac, his was no rags to riches story however, for he had to wait well over a year for his league debut which eventually came on 7 March 1925 at Swansea Town. Norwich lost that game 2-0, losing again, 1-0, a week later when Exeter City came, saw and conquered at The Nest, winning 1-0.
Isaac was dropped after that game and seemed set to play out his career as a county level player. However, one further chance came his way a year later when City were deprived the services of prolific centre forward James Jackson (20 goals in 34 league appearances in the 1925/26 season), Isaac taking his place for the trip to Swindon Town. His third game for the Canaries and also his final one, Norwich losing 3-1. Jackson was back in the side for the next game and scored three goals in three consecutive matches showing, beyond doubt, that he was the main man at The Nest.
Another young hopeful lost to the senior game. It was no different then to how it is now. Isaac, a 1920’s version of Paul Clayton perhaps, had not taken his chance, not had the games, the rub of the green. And now he was gone, destined to spend the rest of his career playing in non-league football.
Yet there was still some cause for celebration in the Ryder household. Isaac eventually joined Norwich CEYMS (historically quoted as the club where ‘On The Ball City’ originated as a terrace anthem) in September 1927 and he and Mrs Ryder must have been mightily happy about that because, nine months later, he was in possession of a bouncing baby boy, namely Terry.
Like his dad before him, Terry became a notable player at schoolboy and youth level; also going onto represent the county. He joined the Canaries, initially as a member of the groundstaff in 1945 before signing full professional forms a year later. His debut, alas, kept up the family’s run of losing the games they played in with Norwich crashing 3-0 to Notts County at Meadow Lane on 14 September 1946.
Yet Terry persisted – and he had something about him. By the end of that season he’d made 17 league appearances, scoring five goals, part of a pacy combination who sped along the touchlines of Carrow Road with Les Eyre, an ex-RAF man, his colleague on the left-hand side of the pitch.
Les and Terry didn’t play together in many Norwich matches yet when they did, Norwich invariably played well and either one or the other would be amongst the goals. Les was, like Terry, fleet of foot, an old fashioned forward of that “get the ball and run like hell” breed. The two of them would have had particular reason to enjoy the league match against Bristol Rovers at Carrow Road on 3 December 1949 where Norwich ran riot. They won 4-0 with Les scoring two and Terry one – the two of them working in tandem, an early day version of Eadie and Gordon, each terrorising their own side of the pitch but swift to bring the other into play, enhancing their colleagues game as much as they did their own.
Terry was the harder worker of the two. He’d end every game he played for Norwich drenched with sweat and barely able to get himself off the pitch through exhaustion, a player who didn’t just give his all, but found and freely gave a little bit more, much to, amongst others, the appreciation of Les.
Invariably of course, that type of player, whilst hugely appreciated and valued by his team mates for all the work he does, invariably misses out on the glory which goes to his team mates, the men who scored the goals that his hard work led to.
Undaunted and modest, Terry contributed another five for Norwich during the 1949/50 season, saving his best and, perhaps, his greatest effort in a Norwich shirt for the FA Cup that campaign and a 3rd round replay against Hartlepool United on 15 December, a little less than a fortnight after that game against Bristol Rovers.
This game is held on a Thursday. And a Thursday afternoon at that, with floodlights not set to be installed at Carrow Road until 1956. This meant that the game kicked off in the early afternoon in order that it might be completed before it was too dark to continue. But, despite that, over 18,000 people attended the replay and, those that did had a treat in store. For this time it was Les doing all the hard work, the running, the making space, the effort and the energy required to constantly fox and drag Hartlepool’s defence that way and this.
Maybe they’d expected Terry to do that role; he usually did – but not today. Les ran himself into the ground meaning that Terry, relatively untroubled, could help himself to a hat-trick, Norwich winning the game 5-1 with Les and Noel Kinsey scoring the other goals that afternoon in front of that large and, one suspects, quite youthful crowd.
Two days later they were at it again, both playing well and contributing to another big win, this time a 4-0 romp against Newport County, Terry scoring one of the goals with Les, again, the supplier, Noel Kinsey (2) and Roy Hollis also being beneficiaries of his hard work that day.
Whisper it quietly, but it looked like Norwich City might have been onto something here. The Canaries won their next game as well, 2-1 at Bristol City, Terry part of the team and move that led to another goal for Les as well as a further strike for Kinsey. Teams played five in attack during those halcyon, far off days (how about a front five of Pilkington, Hooper, Van Wolfswinkle, Becchio and Elliott Bennett for Norwich?) and our own at the time of Eyre, Bryn Jones, Kinsey, Roy Hollis and Ryder certainly looked as if they were firing on all cylinders – four games, four wins, 15 goals scored to one conceded?
Bring it on. Sadly, however, circumstances meant that it didn’t quite work out the way that it looked like it might.
Ryder, potentially devastating on his day but all too often not afforded the chance to prove it, was whisked away to Portsmouth the following year, the £6,000 paid for him representing – at the time – an enormous profit and much needed injection of funds to the club.
Not long afterwards, Eyre was also on his way, joining Bournemouth for just £500 less than Portsmouth had paid for Ryder. Thus the two wing wizards that nearly were for Norwich continued their footballing careers on the south coast but never, sadly, able to line up on the same side again to see if they could have repeated the brief but explosive magic that seemed to come to town on the occasions they were part of the same Norwich City team.
And yet, and yet…
In August 1948 Norwich had spent a little bit of their own hard earnt cash on a slip of a lad who had been impressing whilst playing for Limerick in Ireland. The princely sum (and it was at the time!) of £1,500 secured this outside rights signature one who would be expected, in time, to contend with Ryder for a place in that outside right position. Same position and almost the same age, the new signing being only a few weeks younger than Terry.
It is when we learn of this man’s identity that we can realise why Norwich were happy to accept Portsmouth’s bid for Ryder, 12 goals in 51 league appearances and pace to spare, something of a lucky charm infact.
Because of that lad from Limerick. His name? Johnny Gavin.
And he deserves a piece all to himself. So he’ll be getting one.