Given the amount of times we’ve crossed paths with the darlings of the south coast over the last few seasons, you may well have already read Allan’s potted history of our clashes, but just in case you haven’t…
Much of our history against Bournemouth takes place in the old Third Division South and pre the Swinging Sixties. In those days it was Bournemouth and Boscombe FC that Norwich faced, as opposed to the modern-day AFC Bournemouth.
The club can trace its roots back to 1899, however, they were relative newcomers to the professional game, finally joining Norwich in Division Three South for the 1923-24 season. The first meeting was a 1-1 at the Nest; the return in Bournemouth, a 2-1 City win.
During those early days, City enjoyed the upper hand, particularly at home, where they won eight of the first 11 home games. There were also goals aplenty for the Canaries, scoring four or more in five of those wins. The 1933-34 season was especially memorable with Norwich winning 6-1 and 4-2 on their march to their first Division Three South title.
The next time the two met, the tables were well and truly turned. It was a Christmas special in 1946-47, Norwich winning 1-0 at Bournemouth on Christmas day but the Carrow Road return, a day later on Boxing Day, saw City slide to their heaviest ever home defeat, a 6-1 thrashing. It was a record home defeat that stood until the Colchester debacle of 2009.
Bournemouth’s overall record at Carrow Road is actually quite impressive, none more so than in the 1950s when City suffered four consecutive home defeats and a dismal run of eight home games vs Bournemouth without victory.
The last of those home defeats came on 10th October 1959 with Bournemouth returning home from East Anglia with a 3-2 victory. A solitary point that season against the Cherries proved to be a minor irritation as City ended the campaign promoted to Division Two and, with it, they and Bournemouth parted company – our respective fortunes going in opposite directions.
It was 40 years before the two played again, and this was in the 2000 League Cup. There were a further 14 years before they finally played each other in the league again. The gap between league fixtures extended to 54 years.
It’s strange to think that Norwich have played Bournemouth 57 times but only four of those games have taken place in the top *two* divisions.
One of those clashes proved to be one of the stand-out games of the 2014-15 season. That year Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth were flying, top of the table, scoring goals for fun. Norwich, under Neil Adams, were faltering in their quest for an immediate return to the Premier League.
By the time Norwich arrived on the south coast on 10th January 2015 Adams was gone and a new man, Alex Neil, was watching in the stands.
Despite conceding an early goal, City rallied. A dramatic second half saw Neil come down to the dug-out to inspire his new side to an unlikely 2-1 win thanks to a Cameron Jerome belter and a backs-to-the-wall display after a Jonny Howson red card.
The celebrations that evening in front of the away end felt special. It was leaders Bournemouth’s first defeat in 15 and it was a win that would re-ignite City’s season. Starting that game in seventh place, Norwich would lose just three more league games en route to Wembley and play-off glory.
With both Bournemouth and Norwich promoted in 2014-15, the 12th September 2015 was a milestone in our histories – the first meeting between the sides in the top league of English football.
Norwich won that one 3-1 but it was Bournemouth who survived that year, their 3-0 win in the return fixture illustrating the gulf that had opened up between the two. It was a damaging defeat in City’s, typically unsuccessful, battle against relegation.
As mentioned above, Norwich and Bournemouth did not play each other for many years as they occupied different leagues but there is a unique connection between the clubs as 13 members of the Norwich City Hall of Fame, have also represented Bournemouth.
They are… Les Eyre, Ralph Hunt, John Bond, Tony Powell, Ted MacDougall, Phil Boyer, Mel Machin, Doug Livermore, Kevin Reeves, Jimmy Neighbour, Dale Gordon, Efan Ekoku and Andy Marshall.
The key name in this list was John Bond, who began his managerial career at Bournemouth, winning promotion in his first season, 1970-71. He almost made it back-to-back promotions before his move to East Anglia.
At Bournemouth, Bond had developed a side of bright young talent of which, much to his formers club’s frustration, he raided regularly. Powell, MacDougall, Boyer and Machin all followed their former boss to become first-team regulars, with Norwich, in the top flight.
MacDougall won the First Division golden boot, Boyer an England cap and Machin became Ken Brown’s number two before becoming a manager himself at Manchester City.
It was a golden period for the yellow and green thanks largely to Bournemouth’s academy.
Since 2016 we have played the Cherries six times, two of them in the League Cup – first first being a 2-1 defeat in October 2018 and most recently, of course, the 6-0 win in last season’s Carabao at the same stage of the competition in which we lock horns tomorrow night.
We also played them twice in the 2019-20 Premier League, drawing 0-0 in Bournemouth before winning the Carrow Road game 1-0, and twice in the Championship-winning season of 2020-21 where we lost both times.