Joy is a rare commodity these days, especially for fans of professional football clubs. But sometimes, even when things aren’t going so well, there’s an area of the game, a region of opportunity where a club can notch an accomplishment or two and the fans can enjoy the sweet taste of success.
Such an area of opportunity is the English Football League Cup. And such a club is Norwich City.
The EFL Cup began in 1961 and all 92 professional clubs in the top four divisions of English football were eligible, although it took some years and free entry to the UEFA cup for the winner before full participation became the norm.
Various sponsors attached their name to the cup over the years – including Littlewoods, Rumbelows, Coca Cola, Worthington’s, Carling, Capital One, and current incumbents, Carabao – but we mustn’t forget our personal favourites, the Milk Marketing Board, as they gave us such a nice day out on 24th March 1985.
So, how have Norwich performed in the competition over the years? Allow me to explain using the medium of ‘chart’:
Not bad, eh? Four finals, two wins. Them are trophies in the bag, old son. No small dice. Nicely done.
Want some ribbons on this particular cup? OK, here’s a brief analysis of those prosperous times:
The 1962 League Cup final success was split across two legs. The first leg was held at Spotland on 26th April 1962 and Archie Macauley’s Canaries won 3-0 with two goals from Derrick Lythgoe and one from Bill Punton. The return leg at Carrow Road on 1st May 1962 ended 1-0 courtesy of a Jimmy Hill goal completing an aggregate 4-0 win.
Ron Saunders’ side bulldozed Leicester City, Hull City, Stockport County, Arsenal, and Chelsea to reach Wembley on 3rd March 1973. A capacity crowd of 100,000 saw a Martin Peters-inspired Tottenham Hotspur edge the match with a single Ralph Coates goal. The Canaries could be proud of a great run-in though, beating Arsenal 3-0 away in the quarter-final and Chelsea 2-0 away in the semi-final first leg and 1-0 in the home leg for a 3-0 aggregate win.
As John Bond replaced Ron Saunders, City narrowly failed to make the final the following year, losing 2-1 on aggregate over two legs against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Ian Mellor, perhaps a forgotten man, scored the Canaries’ opening goal at Carrow Road in the first tie. Wolves equalised through goal-machine John Richards and he scored again the return leg to win the match 1-0. Another good run for the Canaries though, beating Wrexham, Everton, Southampton, and Millwall along the way.
John Bond’s City chanced upon Ron Saunders at Wembley again this year (this time in the guise of Aston Villa manager). The final was held on 1st March 1975 and attracted a gate of 95,946. Kevin Keelan pushed Ray Graydon’s late penalty onto the post, but a grateful Graydon followed up the rebound to earn a narrow 1-0 victory. Norwich’s progress through the competition was again impressively entertaining and exhausting, beating Bolton Wanderers after a replay, West Bromwich Albion after a replay, Sheffield United after a replay, Ipswich Town, (you guessed it) after a replay, and Manchester United… over a two-legged semi-final! (The Norwich goalscorers in the 3-2 aggregate semi-final win were Tony Powell, Ted MacDougall, and Colin Suggett, with Lou Macari replying with a couple for the lads from Old Trafford.)
And there is one more… (Did you think I’d forget?)
A decade after our previous final appearance, Ken Brown capped the lot with a fine 1-0 win over Sunderland at a sold-out Wembley on 24th March 1985. The goal came from an Asa Hartford shot which deflected off unfortunate Black Cats’ defender Gordon Chisholm. Chris Woods provided late drama by turning a Clive Baker penalty against the post, but the deed was done and the trophy was on its way to Carrow Road. Now, that was a fine day out. For the record here’s the team who played that day: Chris Woods, Paul Haylock, Dennis van Wijk, Steve Bruce, Peter Mendham, Dave Watson (c), Mark Barham, Mick Channon, John Deehan, Asa Hartford, Louise Donowa, and substitute John Devine.
Some say the semi-final was memorable too… (Check out MFW editor Gary’s superb article about that unforgettable match: https://rewindnorwich.co.uk/post/177839250549/milk-cup-semi-final-norwich-ipswich-march-1985)
As for Singin’ in the Rain, well, all supporters can identify with that – and we all can’t wait to feel that wonderful cup success buzz again: ‘What a glorious feeling, I’m happy again.’
Soon, I hope.
(NB. Stats compiled from various sites including Wikipedia, playmakerstats.com, and Rewind Norwich City.)