That was the week that was - for Doug Livermore and Norwich City
PUBLISHED: 08:30 28 April 2012
A point against Liverpool will finally cement Norwich City’s place in the Premier League next season – and the issue may even be settled before the day’s late kick-off at Carrow Road if Wigan fail to beat Newcastle earlier in the afternoon, or if Bolton are beaten at Sunderland.
But while today’s Canaries were poised to confirm their top flight status for another 12 months, one of the men responsible for helping take the club into the former Division One for the first time was casting his mind back exactly 40 years to one of the most momentous weeks in club history.
If the final week of April 2012 brings the completion of manager Paul Lambert’s mission to keep the club among English football’s elite – another minor miracle after back-to-back promotions – the last week of April 1972 saw City join that elite for the first time in their 70-year history.
A 2-1 victory at Orient on a Monday night, April 24, clinched promotion for Ron Saunders’ team. Five days later, a 1-1 draw at Watford secured the Division Two championship.
For midfielder Doug Livermore, that memorable campaign was his first full season at Norwich, having joined the club for £22,000 from Liverpool in November 1970.
Now 64 and working as a consultant for a football agency, Livermore cannot quite believe that four decades have passed. Vast quantities of water have flowed under Carrow Bridge since he first caught sight of it.
“When I think it’s 40 years ago since promotion, I have to say where has the time gone?” said Livermore, who played in the two historic matches at Brisbane Road and Vicarage Road, and indeed missed only one league fixture in the whole promotion season.
“I remember that we finished up with two away games and they are fantastic memories, days I’ll never forget.”
A goal from Ken Foggo and a penalty from Livermore’s great friend and fellow midfielder, Graham Paddon, were enough for victory at Orient before Ian Bowyer scored a consolation goal for the hosts, a result that sent the travelling hordes back to Norfolk in joyous mood.
In his club history, On the Ball City, Ted Bell wrote: “A yellow and green trail snaked all the way from East Anglia to London and back.”
Said Livermore: “I remember the journey back to Norwich afterwards and the lads were very, very happy. It was a great night.”
City were not about to put their feet up, however. They had a job to finish on that wet Saturday afternoon at Watford.
“Dave Stringer scored the goal that clinched the title and it was fitting because he had been at the club so long,” said Livermore. “He was vice-captain to Duncan Forbes, both long-serving defenders, and of course Dave captained the team for a long spell that season because Duncan injured his hamstring against Cardiff and was out for a few months.
“It was no problem for Dave because he was a leader in his own right – it was a privilege to play with those two and with the whole squad. We had a great set of lads, great coaching staff with Terry Allcock and George Lee and Ron in charge and we all got on well. It was a very happy, family club.”
Saunders’ torturous training sessions on Mousehold Heath became the stuff of legend.
“Training was very intensive. Our fitness levels under Ron Saunders meant we were better prepared than anyone else in the division, and put that together with some good footballers and you can see why we were successful,” said Livermore.
“It was a special time for the supporters, too. When I think about the Watford game, there are some great photographs of us in the stand after the game with the fans below us on the pitch.
“We wore those red shirts because we had to change colours and we threw them to the supporters afterwards. They were tremendous supporters.”
Livermore was in the City side that faced Tottenham in the League Cup at Wembley in 1973, but a knee injury he suffered at Southampton in the same competition the following season meant he made just three more appearances for the club, moving to Cardiff in 1975 after 139 games and six goals for the Canaries. It wasn’t, of course, the end of the story for he returned to Norwich in 1980 for a brief spell as reserve team boss and was back in 1999 for a further 7½ years as coach then assistant manager – most notably under Nigel Worthington in the 2003-04 Nationwide League title-winning campaign.
It was a coaching career that also brought roles at Cardiff and Swansea, 10 years on the management team at Tottenham, eight years working part-time with the Wales national team and five years as Roy Evans’ assistant at Liverpool.
He said: “When I look back now, I was a kid leaving school and going to work as an apprentice sheet metal worker and electrician. Then I signed at 18 as a professional, and my education at Liverpool was under Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan, Ronnie Moran and Reuben Bennett.
“I had 10 years at Liverpool in total, the first five as a player, nearly 14 years at Norwich, and 10 at Spurs. It’s been fantastic.”
Now living near Manchester and working for London-based Base Soccer Agency, Livermore does not have the opportunity to see his former clubs in action very often, but he did go to Anfield in October for the Premier League game against the Canaries.
He said: “Liverpool had a lot of chances that night but didn’t stick them away. The longer the game went on the more Norwich came into it and Grant Holt came off the bench and scored a great goal.
“It was a great game to watch and great credit to the Norwich lads for the way they came back. I’m delighted to see them doing so well this season.
“It’s been a difficult season for Liverpool in some ways, but they could still finish the season with two trophies.
“But the FA Cup final shouldn’t really affect them. I am sure they will put that to the back of their minds.”