Chris Goreham: Norwich City will be a quieter place without the Forbes roar

PUBLISHED: 12:19 28 October 2019 | UPDATED: 12:19 28 October 2019

Duncan Forbes - a true Norwich City legend on and off the field. Picture: Archant Library

Duncan Forbes - a true Norwich City legend on and off the field. Picture: Archant Library

Duncan Forbes last played for Norwich City a couple of years before I was born.

Duncan Forbes on Mousehold Heath - once, famously, a part of his training regime Picture: Archant LibraryDuncan Forbes on Mousehold Heath - once, famously, a part of his training regime Picture: Archant Library

Usually when a great player who peaked in the 1970s is remembered it's good to be able sit cross legged on the floor and listen to football supporters with more experience tell the tales of the stars that captured their imaginations and featured in the posters on bedroom walls when VAR seemed too far-fetched even for The Jetsons.

Duncan Forbes was different because his impact on the city of Norwich went far beyond the 357 appearances he made for the Canaries.

It seems Duncan approached every single one of those games with all the commitment and vigour of a player torn straight from a Roy of the Rovers cartoon strip but when we started to gather tributes for a special show on BBC Radio Norfolk when his death at the age of 78 was announced last week what really stood out was how few of the stories, told with such warmth, focussed on events that happened during a football match.

There was the lady who was struggling to sell Soda Streams in Debenhams in the 1980s until a fascinated Duncan Forbes came along and broadcast news of her futuristic fizzy drinks to the rest of the store in that booming Scottish voice.

Fans and players pay tribute to Duncan Forbes before the Premier League match between Norwich City and Manchester United. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesFans and players pay tribute to Duncan Forbes before the Premier League match between Norwich City and Manchester United. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

There was the tale of the telling off dished out to a young Justin Fashanu when he helped himself to an entire plate of cucumber sandwiches which had been intended to be shared amongst the Norwich City youth team after a friendly at King's Lynn.

He even had the presence to be able to walk into Boulton and Pauls near Carrow Road and demand that a member of staff be given the afternoon off in order to be able to get on the bus for a midweek away match at Grimsby Town.

My own memories centre around accompanying Roy Waller to Colney in the early part of my time at BBC Radio Norfolk. Duncan was working at the club's training ground at the time and the "Keep your voice down to a roar" greeting that was exchanged between the two of them became a catchphrase that I would never tire of hearing.

There was the odd home fixture as well when he would keep his voice down to a roar on our turf and come into our studios to tell stories from his playing days and pass judgement on the Norwich City squad of the time. His views were always worth listening to.

MORE: City must take a long, hard look in the mirror

Duncan Forbes was such a good servant to Norwich City that he almost became a unit of measurement in his own right.

Any central defender who pulled on a yellow and green jersey in the years after his playing days ended would be subjected to an immediate assessment by Norwich fans of a certain vintage.

Many promising number 5s in my time growing up in the Family Enclosure at Carrow Road were cut down to size by a withering tut and a mumbled "well he's not as good as Duncan Forbes" by one of the wise elders in the stand and an opposition player daring enough to try a Cruyff turn or a step over would be derided with the assumption that he would not have dared do that if he was playing against Forbes.

His influence was still being felt at the weekend. What was intended to be a minute's silence before Norwich City played Manchester United organically became a minute's applause as the City fans grasped one more opportunity to show their appreciation to a true hero.

Some even complained that the ground wasn't as noisy as it usually is during the 3-1 defeat that followed. What did they expect? It was somehow appropriate that Carrow Road became a quieter place without Duncan Forbes and his famous roar.

Most Read

Norwich City Video

Norwich City Audio

Norwich City Stats

The Pink Un magazine

cover
A must-read for any Norwich City fan with in-depth, straight-talking, analysis from the best writers around.
Purchase

Most Read

Latest from the Pink Un - Norwich City Football Club News