A successful 1975 trip to Kenya. Five wins, 23 goals and lot of opportunities for the players to go on safari which, no doubt, they would have done – after all, the opportunities to picture Ted MacDougall with a headline along the lines of “big game hunter” would have been too good to miss, surely?
Kevin was a good player, there is no doubt about. Neat and tidy in possession, a tendency to play the ball out of defence rather than kick it and, no mean feat for a defender, pitched in with his fair share of goals – 11 in the 1979/80 season.
In the world of football it matters not what level you play at or the status of your club and players. They may not be as earth as iconic as Tardelli’s goal and moment of complete abandon against West Germany a little over three decades ago but, to the clubs and the supporters involved, they are as important, maybe more important than anything the perceived great and the good may have performed before.
It was Sir Alex Ferguson who memorably said, “Football. Bloody hell” after yet another of one of those moments, their last gasp win against Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League Final – “that magical night in Barcelona” as Clive Tyldesley, ever irritatingly, constantly refers to it.
Raymond De Waard had a reasonable enough career in the top divisions of Dutch football to suggest that Bryan Hamilton might have secured a bargain when he signed him from SC Cambuur in 2000… alas his City career, along with that of fellow Dutchman Fernando Derveld, was of the brief variety.
I don’t think there is such a thing as a bad footballer. We can, and we will, call them all of the names under the proverbial sun, we can dismiss them, question their right to even exist and damn their name and ineptitude to the end of time but, in reality, they’ll still have footballing ability we can only dream of.
At just 24, he had been the central figure and goalscoring mainstay of a Norwich side that had genuine hopes of securing First Division football for the first time in the clubs history before the end of that decade. Who knows what progress the club might have eventually made had Ron stayed at Carrow Road and been the man that Lol Morgan, appointed Manager only weeks before Davies moved, had been able to build a side around.
The number of different players nominated totalled 86! That rather took me aback, but, given the quality of teams and depth of some of the squads that we have had at Carrow Road, should not be too surprising. In historic terms, the furthest back that the poll went was 1947.
Every team needs a player who gets supporters off their seats when he is even within touching distance of the ball; Hucks was that for Norwich. Combining searing pace with great touch and a mix of tricks that often befuddled opponents and team mates alike, Hucks was blue touch paper in yellow and green.
With the summer now here it seems as good a time as any to review my own choice as to which players would make up that line up – and would be interested in seeing the choice of some of the MFW pundits who follow these pages.
The Saunders mantra was hard work, application, team work – and then some more hard work. Running up the infamous slopes of Mousehold Heath became a feature of training. If Saunders tired of watching them run – well, then the players hopped up it.
The denouement of the 1984/85 season still rankles with a lot of Norwich fans. Following an impressive 2-1 win at a rain soaked Stamford Bridge in our mast game, we were safely sat – or so we thought – in eighteenth place, nine points ahead of Coventry City – and with a better goal difference.
David McNally and Alan Bowkett are cut from exactly the same kind of business cloth as Robert Chase. Their brief, their overwhelming directive has been to secure the long-term financial stability of the football club. The business.
Following Lambert’s confident, confrontational entry into the wolves’ lair, the result was never in doubt. Norwich, their resolve already strong and resolute, feasted from that confidence and, let’s be honest, the Clough-like arrogance of their Manager and tore into their opponents, the eventual 5-0 scoreline doing scant justice to the Canaries superiority on the day.
“Norwich have always had that reputation. With respect to that, Gordon Bennett was brilliant. I think his title was Youth Development Officer. He helped me a great deal, and not just with regard to the football – he even helped me set up my first bank account, and that’s the one I still use today!”
“Vitesse played very well in the first half of that first game, in Norwich. In fact, it was unbelievable, and a real shock to our systems. It was 0—0 at half time and we all came in, sat down, looked at each other and thought, ‘OK, what are we doing here?’…”
“… David Williams was the best coach I ever had the pleasure to work for, or with, and his impact on Norwich City should never be underestimated, as in my eyes, he was the man who should have taken more plaudits for the club’s success than anyone.”
So picture the scene. A windswept, deserted and barren area of moorland. The land gently rises and falls, the grey skies and howling wind punctuated by the occasional echo of a ravens harsh call as the mist scurries over the peaks of the moor, finding havens to sit in, heavily, giving that sense of dank, dark no-hope. Yet, on the prow of one of those misty slopes stands a man, a warrior.
The story of Jimmy Bone could have never been told had he acquiesced to the oval ball philosophy of his School. Yet fortune particularly favours the brave hearted of Stirling and Bone found an outlet for his real sporting love with his local boys brigade from where he joined and played for prominent local junior sides Airth Castle Rovers and Bannockburn Rovers.
Hindsight is everywhere you look in football. It is worn underneath every shirt, trodden under every blade of grass and written large into the hopes and dreams of both players and spectators, especially the latter, in prolific abundance. “If only…” – two words that, whenever applied to our national game can prove, once and for all that, no matter who your team are, if they possessed the gift of hindsight, then they’d win every game, trophy and plaudit that is possible to win.