So then, Viv Busby.
Imagine, say, we’d just gone out and signed Danny Graham.
Busby’s arrival at Carrow Road was greeted with probably the same sort of enthusiasm as would be generated by the arrival of Graham today.
Lukewarm in other words.
A reaction that was, to be fair, a little unfair on the player and which spoke more about the level of discontent that the sale of Ted MacDougall to Southampton had caused.
Ted was plucked away and down to the south coast for the derisory fee of just £50,000.
Bear in mind that he had not only been Norwich’s top scorer in the 1975/76 season but the leading goalscorer in the First Division as well. But not only that, he’d been called up to play for Scotland and had scored three goals in seven appearances for them; this at a time when competition and quality in and around the Scottish squad was nothing short of outstanding, especially given their attacking options. Think Dalglish, Jordan and Lorimer for starters.
He could be a lazy so and so, of that there was no doubt, but that didn’t matter one jot when you were as well acquainted with scoring goals as he was. Especially when you had a player of the calibre of Phil Boyer – the Teddy Sheringham of his day – to do your running for you.
Ted was 29. He had a few years in him yet. So to even consider selling someone who was a more prolific goalscorer than Malcolm McDonald, Bob Latchford or Mike Channon, to name but three, seemed sheer folly.
To then let him go for just £50,000 seemed to be, football wise, bordering on the insane. But there it was.
Ted wanted out. And he wanted to join Southampton. No-one else. And he wanted out now.
Saints, realising that they had Norwich over something of a barrel, made an offer they knew the Canaries would have no choice but to accept.
And off went Ted.
Busby cost the same amount. And he would have known in no uncertain terms that he didn’t only have a big act to follow, he had a lot of grumbling and cantankerous Norwich supporters to win over.
His goalscoring stats at Fulham weren’t exactly jaw dropping: 38 goals in 155 appearances suggested he was as much a maker of goals as a taker of them, the sort of player who held up the ball, provided the knock downs and generally took the kicks and elbows in opposing penalty areas whilst others prospered.
But who would that be?
Almost as soon as MacDougall had left Norwich, doubts were raised over Boyer, his erstwhile striking partner. The two of them had enjoyed a fruitful relationship at York, Bournemouth and Norwich whilst Ted, when had been without his partner in goals, had struggled to make an impression at Manchester United and West Ham.
You had to presume Ted would have been quite keen for ‘Charlie’ Boyer to join him down at The Dell?
One forward gone, one rumoured to be going? Boyer eventually sign for Southampton albeit a year after Ted had gone the same way. He might have gone earlier had it not been for an injury that meant he missed half of Norwich’s 1976/77 season anyway, the 21 league appearances he did make seeing a return of just five goals.
The writing was on the wall. It was time, as a former Norwich manager said, for “new heroes” to emerge.
Busby did his best. He scored on his Canaries debut, a thrilling 3-2 win over Newcastle United at Carrow Road before following that up with another in another 3-2 win, this time at QPR three days later.
Two goals in two games, two consecutive wins and Norwich, who had been bottom in mid-September, were now up to 15th.
As luck would have it, Busby then fell prey to an injury himself, one that kept him out of the side for eight consecutive games. Fortunately for the Canaries, Boyer stepped up to the mark, scoring four of the five he got in the league that year with Roger Gibbins, signed from Oxford United for less than half of what Busby had cost, making his presence felt in the team by now; his own tenacious and energetic efforts offering a decent foil to Boyer’s intelligent running and clinical finishing.
Bond clearly felt that Norwich needed more though and with Busby still on the treatment table he persuaded Chelsea’s Peter Osgood to join on loan; Ossie arriving in November and making three appearances in his short spell at the club.
He was good novelty value but nothing was ever going to come of it and he departed as quickly as he had come, no goals scored but plenty of interest raised and a decent home gate of just under 25,000 for his debut against West Ham – a game Norwich won 1-0, courtesy of Martin Peters.
Peters and Osgood in the same Norwich team, who would have thought it?
A week before Christmas, Busby was declared fit enough to return and took Osgood’s place in the number 8 shirt for the game at Carrow Road against Sunderland. Norwich won 1-0, courtesy of, yes, Busby, and, as if he wanted to prove a point, he then scored again in the 2-0 win at QPR on December 27th.
But still he hadn’t finished. Norwich welcomed Leicester City to Carrow Road on New Year’s Day 1977 with Busby scoring a hat-trick in the Canaries 3-2 win.
That made it five appearances in a Norwich shirt for Viv Busby, five wins and twelve goals scored – seven of those coming from the man himself.
If he was never going to replace Ted MacDougall in the hearts of the Canary support, then he was certainly doing his best to make up for that with the number of goals he was scoring, something which, as it turned out, was vital with – although no-one knew it at the time – that win over Leicester turning out to be Boyer’s penultimate start for Norwich.
With Boyer’s season effectively over after the injury he sustained in the Leicester game, Bond acted quickly to fill the gap, signing the hitherto unknown Kevin Reeves from Bournemouth, initially on loan.
Reeves, playing alongside Busby, made his debut in the game against Arsenal at Highbury and acquitted himself so well that, after the game, Gunners boss Terry Neill made an enquiry of his own into the availability of the young striker only to get a fond but firm rebuff from Bond.
Reeves, Busby and Roger Gibbins shared the goalscoring responsibilities at Carrow Road amongst themselves up until the end of that season with Reeves contributing an impressive tally of 8 from his 21 starts. A star, it seemed, was about to be born in the east.
Whether he and Busby could, in time, be as prolific or effective as MacDougall and Boyer had been was open for question. But with Norwich eventually ending the season in 13th place and a full campaign looming for the Canaries latest striking partnership, the summer of 1978 looked like it was going to be a very interesting one indeed.
Would Bond – ever the wheeler dealer – stick or twist?
[Third and final part of Ed’s striker trilogy is on Friday]