Chris Goreham: A Norwich City production starring The Count, The Gaffer, Disco and the King of Spain
PUBLISHED: 06:00 10 October 2017
I have never dipped my toe, or anything else for that matter, into the criminal underworld so spending an evening in the company of ‘The Count’, ‘The Gaffer’, ‘Disco’ and ‘The King of Spain’ is the closest I will ever come to sounding like a proper Gangster.
To the non-Canary fan those nicknames might conjure up an image of smoke filled rooms, violin cases that don’t contain instruments and games of cards played for big money and with the constant threat of violence.
Any Norwich City supporter will have already worked out that those monikers indicate a perfectly pleasant and polite evening talking football with Terry Allcock, Ken Brown, Dale Gordon and Simon Lappin.
It was an enjoyable one although less likely to be made into a film by Martin Scorsese than the original description might have suggested.
The four non-Mobsters are among the contributors to the latest volume of the Tales From The City series of books which collects stories about Norwich City from former players, managers, reporters and fans.
I was lucky enough to be asked to host this year’s launch event at Carrow Road last week which helped to fill the two-week void between club matches.
These international breaks are like having power cuts on a winter night.
You’ve just got yourself settled into the rhythm of things when suddenly everything stops. You don’t realise quite how much you lean on electricity or regular club football until its suddenly taken away.
There are only so many times you can say “is that really the same Harry Kane we had on loan?” during an England game before it gets boring.
With the current Canary project having taken a distinct turn for the better in recent weeks it meant that at last week’s gathering of around 200 Norwich City fans any worries about The Championship for this season could be parked in favour of some moist-eyed nostalgia.
Terry Allcock’s endless list of goals and painful injuries from a glittering career in the 1950s and 60s had supporters smiling and wincing in equal measure.
The Count’s no-nonsense approach was summed up when he produced a 1961-62 League Cup winners tankard (they didn’t give them medals in those days) and a replica of the first ever Barry Butler Trophy, given to him for being City’s Player of the Year, from a series of orange plastic carrier bags.
Terry’s refusal to get carried away by the hyperbole of modern football extended to a withering “You could have got yourself a pair of trousers” on seeing ‘Disco’ Dale Gordon, one of the club’s greatest ever entertainers, take to the stage in a pair of trendy ripped jeans.
The whole evening skipped along with the sort of dressing room stories that supporters can never get enough of.
It was more proof that Norwich City fans never forget their favourites and anyone lucky enough to get taken to the bosom of The Barclay as a player or manager will always be welcome.
For all the fretting and frustrations of the here and now, we all have those Canary stars from our formative years that got us onto our feet at Carrow Road before we were really old or experienced enough to realise that plastic seats fold themselves back up when you stand up.
It’s a painful lesson that most of us learn very quickly.
I am sure all clubs have a good relationship with the stalwarts of their past but it does feel like Norwich City supporters have longer and kinder memories than most.
Anyone who doesn’t agree can expect a visit from one of my new gang.
A Norfolk team losing away from home...
The lack of club football at the weekend was no excuse not to put a few more miles onto the clock of the BBC Radio Norfolk car.
With non-League clubs enjoying a bit more of the spotlight than usual and an exciting season for King’s Lynn Town beginning to take shape I agreed to head to Weymouth to watch and cover the Linnets’ latest Southern League assignment. Anyone who tells you that I accepted the mission without checking how far away Weymouth is should not be trusted.
It would be churlish of anyone from Norfolk to make a point of complaining about the single track roads through the New Forest and into Dorset that make the last leg of the journey from Southampton onwards feel like an ordeal and it was no surprise to discover that plenty of others had made the trip.
It was good to catch-up with a group of King’s Lynn fans in the bar at the Bob Lucas Stadium before kick-off. They were in such good spirits that one even felt comfortable enough to talk about “those prima donna teams like Norwich City” during our chat. This was music to my yellow and green ears. Arsenal, Chelsea or Manchester United might be readily described a ‘prima donna teams’ so to hear my beloved Canaries being talked about in such terms only felt like a positive.
Housed in a little shed at the back of one of the stands, it was good fun watching a keenly contested match. My favourite bit was when a King’s Lynn player was flagged offside and the referee played advantage only for a Weymouth attacker to immediately be found in an offside position. So for a few glorious seconds the two linesmen, in different halves of the field, both had their flags up at the same time. I don’t think I have ever seen that before.
Ultimately it was a fruitless trip. The Norfolk side dominated possession but failed to make the most of their opportunities and were undone by a couple of defensive errors against a well organised opposition and had plenty to think about on the long journey home. Hang on, I think I might have written that last sentence one or two times before, although thankfully not for at least a month. Long may that continue.