Norwich and Burnley have often found themselves on contrasting paths although over the last decade, our yo-yo existence has meant we have met on several occasions.
For most of our early days, City were marooned in the lower leagues, namely the Division Three South, while Burnley were regulars in the top division, winning it in 1920-21.
Even, by the time of Burnley’s second championship in 1959-60, Norwich were still competing in the third tier, albeit they did win promotion that particular season.
By the 1980s and 1990s, the clubs had effectively swapped positions. Norwich were then at home in the First Division while Burnley had fallen into a rapid and almost-terminal decline. The gap between the two was never as big as it was in 1986-87 when only a final-day win secured Burnley’s place in the Football League and prevented them from dropping into the non-league pyramid.
Ken Brown’s Norwich meanwhile finished that season in a then club-record fifth place in Division One.
City’s inspirational captain in 1986-87 was one Mick Phelan. The Canaries’ gain was Burnley’s loss as the Lancastrian had previously made 168 appearances for his home-town club and was voted their player-of-the-season before his transfer to Norfolk.
Phelan would go on to make 194 appearances for City before his big-money move to Manchester United.
The following season, 1987-88, Norwich and Burnley were paired in the second round of the League Cup. Despite a gap of three leagues and 70 odd places, Norwich scraped through 2-1 on aggregate after two closely fought encounters.
They have met twice in the FA Cup – the first in 2012 and then more recently in 2020 – with City winning on both occasions. The 2012 game was at Carrow Road and was won convincingly 4-1, with Burnley’s consolation that day coming from Jay Rodriguez who is now back at Turf Moor.
When they met in the 2020 competition, City won 2-1 thanks to goals from Josip Drmic and Grant Hanley.
Since that FA Cup victory, they have played each other four times with City winning just once – in the Premier League at Carrow Road last April.
Between 2016-17 and 2021-22, the Clarets spent six consecutive seasons in the Premier League under the no-nonsense leadership of Sean Dyche, and so, given our persistent yo-yoing, we ended up playing each other in alternate seasons.
In total, the two teams have played each other 46 times – City winning 16, Burnley 22 and eight draws – and there have been some memorable ones.
City’s 2004-05 Championship-winning campaign brought about a couple of significant clashes. The home game on 13th September marked the debut of loanee star, Darren Huckerby, as well as Peter Crouch and Kevin Harper – three inspired signings that kick-started our season. Crouchy scored in a 2-0 and City never looked back.
By the time they arrived at Turf Moor on 3rd April 2004, a slick, exhilarating footballing machine put Burnley ruthlessly to the sword. A Huckerby double and a brilliant 5-3 win that had the hallmark of champions-in-waiting. The win also marked Norwich’s first-ever win at Turf Moor in 13 attempts.
Meanwhile a couple of seasons before, City put together a late run to edge into the 2001-02 play-offs. It all came down to Malky Mackay scoring a late header to secure a 2-0 home win over Stockport County. It was enough, just, to earn a crack at the playoff lottery. The team they pipped… Burnley, by a solitary goal.
If 3rd April 2004 marked a high point for boss Nigel Worthington, then Burnley’s visit to Carrow Road on 1st October 2006 was a definite low. Norwich had struggled since relegation in May 2005, failing to bounce back to the Premier League and the fan base was losing patience.
The Sky Sports cameras arrived at Carrow Road sensing blood, and they got it, as City slumped to a morale-sapping 4-1 home defeat to a distinctly average Burnley side.
It was the heaviest and only third-ever home defeat to Burnley and Worthington was gone within hours of the final whistle.
The first-ever game between the two was a Division Two fixture on 15th December 1934 and a 3-2 home defeat, while the first top-flight encounter was at Turf Moor on 8th December 1973 and ended in a 1-0 City defeat. That loss was sandwiched in between two Texaco Cup defeats – 14 days and three defeats (2-0, 1-0, and 3-2). By that mid-December, Norwich were sick of the sight of the Lancastrians.
The home fixture, later that season, did at least see the Canaries come out on top (1-0) but it proved to be of little joy. It was the final time that Norwich tasted victory in Division One. Two defeats later they were back down to Division Two. Burnley finished that season in the heady heights of sixth.
A lot has happened since those early encounters and this particular iteration of Burnley, under the management of Vincent Kompany, looks destined for a very brief stopover back in the Championship. The 1-0 defeat at Turf Moor in October was particularly chastening for City fans who watched their team be thoroughly outplayed for almost the whole 90 minutes.
That day, under Dean Smith, the team appeared content to concede both territory and possession. On Saturday, under David Wagner, neither will form part of the plan.
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