Not Well-Captured in Grandad’s Diaries
One thing that is not well-captured in grandad’s diaries of the early 1970s is my interest in football, in general, and my support for Norwich City Football Club, in particular.
Grandad Was Not Interested in Football
This is largely because grandad was not particularly interested in football.
Although He Did Watch the FA Cup Final on TV
However, he usually watched at least part of the FA Cup Final on television (see Chapter 112).
Reference to the 1974 World Cup
Tangentially, he referred to the 1974 World Cup as, in June 1974, he noted that, on one Sunday, Alan and I did not come for tea because we were watching football (see Chapter 106). This related to the 1974 World Cup in West Germany.
League Cup Final 1973
Grandad did mention Norwich City once in the early seventies, in March 1973, when he noted that Alan and I had gone with dad to see Norwich play Tottenham at Wembley (see Chapter 106). He noted that “it was not the English cup” by which he meant it was not the FA Cup. In fact, it was the League Cup Final which Norwich lost 1-0.
I First Started Watching Norwich in the Late 1960s
In the late 1960s, grandad had noted dad taking Tricia, me and Alan to various Norwich games (see Chapter 92).
The first game grandad noted us going to was on 29 April 1967. Dad took Tricia and me to the home game against Cardiff City which Norwich won 3-2. I was not quite seven. Dad also took us to the last match of that season, on 13 May 1967, when Norwich beat Northampton Town 1-0. Norwich played in Division 2 that season and finished 11th overall (see below).
My recollections are that the first game I attended was against Crystal Palace with Norwich winning 4-3. Based on records of Norwich games, it seems that that game was two weeks before the Cardiff game that grandad recorded, that is on 15 April 1967.
During that period, dad also sometimes took us to friendlies. For example, on 12 August 1967, dad took me and Alan to a friendly against Sheffield United, a First Division team. Norwich won 1-0.
Dad also sometimes took us to reserve matches. For example, dad took Tricia and me to see Norwich Reserves play Swansea on 9 August 1969. Norwich lost that game 1-0. At that time, Norwich Reserves played in the Football Combination.
Chelsea in Fourth Round of FA Cup
In addition, on 17 February 1968, grandad noted that dad took me to London by bus to see Norwich play Chelsea in the fourth round of the FA Cup. Norwich lost 1-0. I remember a few away trips with dad travelling on supporter coaches and I recall that, when they were going to London, the coaches always stopped in Baldock.
One incident which I remember, and I think it was from that trip. was two older boys snatching my scarf and dad chasing after them and grabbing hold of one of them until they gave the scarf back. I was quite surprised by him doing this but, on reflection, I think they were probably quite young lads although I did not think so at the time. He always commented that no-one came to his aid but violent scuffles were quite common in relation to football at that time.
1969 FA Cup Final
In April 1969, dad took me to the FA Cup Final between Leicester City and Manchester City. I recall it being a tremendous experience and, like many others, remember walking up Wembley Way towards the stadium’s twin towers.
I recall that Leicester were very much the underdogs. Although both teams were in the First Division, Leicester City were relegated that year. The programme for the match noted that this was Leicester’s fourth F A Cup final but that they had not yet won the F A Cup. This experience and this game were referred to a lot in 2021 when Leicester finally won the FA Cup, beating Chelsea in the final. In 1969, I recall that Manchester City won 1-0. Neil Young scored the only goal.
1970 to 1974
The five years from 1970 to 1974 were important years for Norwich City Football Club. Not only did they reach the League Cup Final in 1973, but they did so as a First Division club, having been promoted from the Second Division at the end of 1972 for the first time in their history.
I do not recall this period very clearly in terms of Norwich City. I am not sure how many games I went to. Grandad’s diary is not helpful in this regard. I think there must have been a period of transition from going to football with dad to going on my own with my friends. These years were probably in that transition period. I am not sure I clearly recall the promotion in 1972. I certainly do not remember it as clearly as I do the second promotion in 1975.
That First Promotion to the Top Flight
Grandad did not note Norwich’s achievement in reaching the top flight of English football for the first time. But, there were various memorabilia relating to this among mum’s papers when she died.
First, there was a magazine called “Canary Crusade”. Produced in 1972, this looked back on the title-winning season of 1971-72 and looked forward to the club’s first season at the highest level.
Progress towards promotion was considered to have started in July 1969 with the appointment of Ron Saunders as manager.
However, Saunders’ first two seasons had not been particularly successful. In 1970-71, while Norwich had become difficult to beat, they did not score many goals. Regular striker Albert Bennett struggled with injury and Norwich often had to utilize Trevor Howard as a makeshift striker. Norwich finished tenth overall in Division 2, losing their last three games. Attendances were poor with an average of only 13,259 across the 1970-71 season.
Comparison to Other Norwich Managers
In one of the editions in the review “100 Years of the Canaries” published in 2002, managers were ranked according to results based on three points for a win and one point for a draw. Based on that system, Ron Saunders was, in 2002, ranked as Norwich’s 11th best manager. However, this system may be unfair on him as it does not take into account the level at which Norwich were playing during his tenure.
In May 1971, Norwich travelled to Lisbon to take part in the Dr Caecor Batista Trophy. They beat Atletico 2-1, Dundee 5-3 and Sporting Lisbon on penalties, after a 1-1 draw. As a result, they unexpectedly won this trophy. I confess I know nothing about this particular trophy or about Dr Caecor Batista. I did find a very brief description of Norwich’s win over Atletico in the Belfast Telegraph of 7 May 1971. It described this as a friendly tournament between British and Portuguese clubs. Similarly, there was a very brief description of Norwich’s win over Sporting Lisbon in the Lincolnshire Echo of 12 May 1971. However, confusingly, this was headlined “Norwich ‘tops’ in Spain”. Norwich then played friendlies against Ipswich and Peterborough.
The League Campaign
The league campaign started at Luton on 14 August 1971. In the first five games, Norwich won two and drew three, which placed them on seven points in third place in the table behind Blackpool and Bristol City. However, two of the draws had been 0-0, Norwich had only scored five goals and attendance was down to 11,000. It was at this time that handbills appeared urging a boycott of Norwich’s next game.
Nevertheless, Norwich then won four of their next five games, drawing the other one against Queens Park Rangers. For that game, attendance was up to 22,000. David Cross joined the club teaming up with other forwards Peter Silvester and Ken Foggo.
There were setbacks during the year with injury to Duncan Forbes and a run of poor form from January to March where Norwich only won one game, drew four and lost four. But, on 25 March 1972, Norwich beat Blackpool 5-1 before then going on to clinch promotion against Orient with a game to spare. In the final game, away at Watford, they drew 1-1 to win the championship.
Views of Other Managers
Also, the magazine contained the views of other managers on Norwich including Dave Sexton of Chelsea, former player Ron Ashman of Scunthorpe, Bobby Robson of Ipswich, Ted Bates of Southampton, Jimmy Bloomfield of Leicester, John Harris of Sheffield United and Ian Greaves of Huddersfield. There were also the views of Alan Hardaker the Football League Secretary.
Joining the Elite of English Football
There was also a page on the 20 teams that were in the First Division at that time, namely Arsenal, Chelsea, Coventry City, Crystal Palace, Derby County. Everton. Ipswich Town, Leeds United, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Sheffield United, Southampton, Stoke City, Tottenham Hotspur, West Bromwich Albion, West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Humour and History
Then there was a page of jokes (most of which I don’t understand!) and then eight pages on Norwich’s 70-year history.
Newspapers Had Special Promotion Editions
In addition, there were special commemorative issues of the Pink Un and the Eastern Daily Press. Among mum’s papers, there were three versions of the former and two of the latter. The former’s headline was “Cheers for the First Time” while the latter’s was “We are the Champions”.
The edition of the Pink Un contained articles and photos from the season. It also contained congratulatory messages/adverts from a range of organisations and details of the season’s results. The commemorative edition of the Eastern Daily Press is very similar.
1971-72 League Table
What is perhaps surprising is that neither paper nor “Canary Crusade” seem to have a table of league standings. However, among mum’s papers was a large folder called “100 Years of the Canaries”. This is a collectable, ten-part series that was produced by the Eastern Daily Press in 2002. It contains end-of-season tables for each year.