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Norwich City - The Memories

I first started supporting Norwich City during their famous cup run of 1959, at which time I was just seven years of age.

It was shortly after this time that I began to spend alternate Saturdays at Carrow Road watching the Canaries in the second division.

During my time at the Norwich School I was a fanatical supporter, attending all the home games. It was not until I left school, however, and went to journalism college at Harlow in Essex that I began to travel to a number of away games as well.

This wandering co-incided with what can justifiably be claimed as City's greatest ever season - that of 1971/72.

Many would argue that subsequent games in Europe and seasons when  the Canaries flew high in the top league eclipsed 1971/72, but I do not agree.

There was a wonderful magic about that season when the side won the second division championship and went into the old first division for the first time ever.

I still have vivid memories of that season as it built to a crescendo.

Looking back almost 30 years later it is hard to see how a team without any great stars could have done so well. It was all a matter of teamwork and the discipline of manager Ron Saunders who will forever be remembered for his granite jaw and demanding training schedules which saw the players forced almost to breaking point.

Stories abounded of players having to run up hills at Mousehold with weights attached to their legs and often being physically sick.

That team spirit shone through, however. I will never forget the determination during the 2-1 win at Orient which assured them of promotion. The goals by Ken Foggo and Graham Paddon have been obscured by the mists of time. What I remember is the frantic defending in the last 10 minutes as City desperately clung on to that lead. It was epitomised by full back Alan Black who received the biggest cheer of the evening from the Norwich fans when he blasted the ball clear of the stand with just seconds remaining. That was how determined they all were.

After the game there was an impromptu street party down Brisbane Road as Norwich fans celebrated.

Another fascinating fact abut that season was the fanatical support which regularly saw home gates top the 30,000 mark and which peaked on April 4th when 35,076 attended the game against Bristol City.

Those were the days of heady attendance figures all round. Almost 41,000 crammed into St Andrew's when City lost 4-0 to Birmingham.

There was little hint of what was to become at the start of that season, however, when gates for the early matches hovered between 11 and 13,000 and there were calls for chairman Geoffrey Watling to resign.

But those calls became nothing stronger than whispers as Norwich began to rack up the points with eight wins and five draws before their first defeat, away at Millwall.

Of all the matches that season the away trips to Millwall and Orient are freshest in my mind. The Den was a cold, unwelcoming place as the two top teams clashed on October 22nd, 1971.

City were unbeaten and Millwall had lost just once - to Middlesbrough the previous week. It was a tough game with Dave Stringer giving Millwall the lead with an own goal only for Peter Silvester to equalise. Millwall won the game with a secnd half Barry Kitchener strike and it felt as if the world was crumbling.

Millwall was an intimidating place in days when soccer violence could rear its ugly head almost at will. I can remember fights breaking out on the terraces and the announcer being almost in tears as he asked for peace.

"Please stop fighting. I love this club and you are destroying it" were his choked words.

I found it difficult to return to college on the Monday as one of my classmates was a very keen Millwall fan. I know that he still is as we spoke about a year ago.

After that game the Canaries went seven more matches without defeat - a figure matched by Millwall. By the turn of the year thngs were getting very interesting.

City never scored many goals - just 60 from 42 games but they conceded well under a goal a game. Gradually Birmingham and Queen's Park Rangers began to challenge for the title. Indeed Birmingham finished the season with 12 wins and six draws in their last 18 matches and that included a 4-0 win over Norwich at St. Andrew's.

It shows how good that Norwich unit were as a team when you look at some of the outstanding players in the Birmingham ranks. They included Trevor Francis and Bob Latchford.

Defeat for Millwall at Burnley on April 22nd meant that Norwich needed a win against Orient on April 24th to secure promotion. As already mentioned they clung to a precarious lead.

I was unable to make the final game of the season at Watford due to what I felt was a crummy trip with British Rail as part of our course. I seem to remember one of the oficials complaining about the behaviour of some of our course and ironically the rail trip went to Birmingham, just about the last place I wanted to be on this particular day.

I remember seeing some Norwich fans bedecked in club colours in a loo at Waterloo and wondering whether to attach myself with them and pretend that I was lost.

In the end I went to Birmingham and Norwich struggled for a point which nevertheless was good enough to give them the title. This time Dave Strnger scored at the right end in the 1-1 draw. It was something as an anti-climax as Watford finished bottom of the division by a clear 14 points and took less points than any other club in the four divisions.

In addition City got to the fifth round of the League Cup before losing 0-1 at Carrow Road to Chelsea. they were knocked out of the FA Cup by Hull in the third round.

None of that could detract from a wonderful season so full of memories - come on you greens.

The final league table was:

  Played Won Drawn Lost For Against Points
Norwich City 42 21 15 6 60 36 57
Birmingham City 42 19 18 5 60 31 56
Millwall 42 19 17 6 64 46 55
Q.P.R 42 20 14 8 57 28 54
Sunderland 42 17 16 9 67 57 50
Blackpool 42 20 7 15 70 50 47
Burnley 42 20 6 16 70 55 46
Bristol City 42 18 10 14 61 49 46
Middlesbrough 42 19 8 15 50 48 46
Carlisle United 42 17 9 16 61 57 43
Swindon Town 42 15 12 15 47 47 42
Hull City 42 14 10 18 49 53 38
Luton Town 42 10 18 14 43 48 38
Sheffield Wednesday 42 13 12 17 51 58 38
Oxford United 42 12 14 16 43 45 38
Portsmouth 42 12 13 17 59 68 37
Orient 42 14 9 19 50 61 37
Preston North End 42 12 12 18 52 58 36
Cardiff City 42 10 14 18 56 69 34
Fulham 42 12 10 20 45 68 34
Charlton Athletic 42 12 9 21 55 77 33
Watford 42 5 9 28 24 75 19

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