It’s intriguing how City are perceived by those outside the Canary Nation. While those from that small town in Suffolk may gaze enviously northwards, the view from the rest of the footballing world is largely driven by significant moments in our 111 year history.
With that in mind, and with us heading off to North London tomorrow to lock horns with a cash-rich but Gareth Bale-light Tottenham, we welcome guest blogger, Anthony Lombardi – writer for Tottenham website, podcast and fanzine The Fighting Cock – who has kindly offered us his thoughts on Norwich… and Jerry Goss.
There has always been something about Norwich that has disturbed me. Whenever Tottenham’s path crosses the Canaries I generally tend to become unsettled. I have often pondered why.
Is it the yellow kit? The Delia Smith connection? The Canary v the Cockerel?
Only after a long, quiet day at work did it sink in.
It was down to the day Norwich played one of the giants of world football, Bayern Munich, back in 1993.
The Bayern result came at a time when I first became ‘football conscious’. Many of us are bred into a life of following football and worshipping our heroes, but there is always one moment when we truly become aware of football as more than just our team and favourite players.
Of course I remember Tottenham’s FA Cup win in 1991, but I was unaware of Nottingham Forest as a team, the nuances of their tactics and the effect of their manager.
When Gazza was stretched off early in the game my heart bled for him as my favourite player; not for the affect it would have on our midfield. The arrival of Nayim, a player who helped change the game in Tottenham’s favour, was only apparent years after the event.
In 1993 though I was football aware. As Norwich travelled to Germany I was alive with facts, stats and predictions.
As an Anglo-Italian the beauty of Europe’s big teams drew me away briefly from the newly formed Premier League. The availability of Football Italia indoctrinated me into a world of Roberto Baggio, Paolo Maldini and other great players across the continent, like Lothar Matthaus.
With no Sky TV in my household any opportunity to watch football was grasped with two hands. Sitting alongside my father, as Norwich strode out to face their über opponents, I confidently imparted that Norwich would be thrashed.
As the game unfolded and Jeremy Goss scored what’s been described as “the greatest Norwich goal ever”, a little part of my childhood crumbled away. My father tried to comfort me and predicted that Bayern would triumph 3-1, but then Norwich scored again.
The Canaries were 2-0 up. John Motson said it was “fantasy football”.
For a young Londoner it was an introduction into adulthood; an introduction into the way in which football can dumbfound, disappoint and destroy.
As history reminds us, Bayern pulled one back but Norwich held on and the game ended 2-1.
Walking into school the next day the playground was buzzing. In a North London school that was predominately Spurs or Arsenal, kids were trying to recreate that volley. Local rivalry had been laid aside; for that day everyone except me were ‘Norwich’.
Even my primary school’s token German had searched his ancestry and found a relative hailing from Norfolk. It was an uncomfortable day for me.
For the return leg I approached the game as an embittered 11 year old. I expected Bayern to pull back the deficit, but I was completely aware that it may not happen.
The result may not have had the same impact as the first leg, but nevertheless the affect on my school was noticeable. Norwich had captured the imagination of every child the way, in years to come, Pokémon would.
In 1993 my school’s fad was Norwich… for a few weeks at least.
The next round of the UEFA Cup thankfully brought balance to the world of football when Internazionale ended Norwich’s cup run. The Norwich love-in though ran for a few more days; where once there had been magic and wonder, now there was hate and anger.
As part-Italian and one of few people not to be sucked into the Norwich romance, I was labelled ‘a cheat’, ‘a pasta lover’ and ‘smelly’.
Their rage stemmed from one of Inter’s goals coming from a pull-back that may or may not have crossed the line. In my after school-hours Italian Language class a group of older boys walked passed our room and booed. Norwich, for a brief time, had turned my school upside down.
However, as with everything in football, memories fade and Goss became just another footballing name. Norwich may have become the first English team to win at the Olympiastadion, but my primary school went back to the century old rivalry of Spurs v Arsenal.
For a time my memory of that eventful few weeks faded also. Norwich slipped from my consciousness as they slipped down the leagues.
Until, of course, the Canaries found themselves once again on Tottenham’s fixture list.
Norwich were back in the Premier League and thoughts that I had suppressed came flooding back to the surface.
Since the Canaries returned to the Premier League, they have become a something of a bogey team for Spurs.
I remember vividly last season’s visit. Spurs were a fractured club, key players had left, we played with no tempo and a veteran keeper had kept us in the game, only for a last minute equaliser to squirm past him.
At full-time boos rang out across White Hart Lane; many predicting that the new boss wouldn’t make it to Christmas, Norwich were at it again. Just as in ‘93 when I sat perplexed by Bayern’s defeat, in 2012 Spurs’ dreams were unravelled by the team in yellow.
For the rest of the season we fared little better against the Canaries. In the return fixture we had to rely on a wonder goal by our departed transfer record breaker to sneak a point, while in the Capital One cup, a fluffed Clint Dempsey penalty and another late goal by Norwich knocked us out.
This Saturday, with Spurs having their ability to integrate £100 million worth of new talent interrupted by the international break, I am feeling a little concerned that of all teams that could visit White Hart Lane, it’s Norwich.
Hopefully come 5pm on Saturday, Spurs will have done something to exorcise the night that Goss took my footballing innocence.
Thanks again to Anthony, and good luck to him and Tottenham… after Saturday