Keith turns to verse to voice his opinions on Norwich City... past and present!

PUBLISHED: 10:26 08 May 2020 | UPDATED: 10:26 08 May 2020

Former Norwich City chairman Geoffrey Watling and striker Ron Davies Picture: Norwich City

Former Norwich City chairman Geoffrey Watling and striker Ron Davies Picture: Norwich City

Norwich City

Your Posts is a new project which allows you to voice your opinions on the big sporting stories – Keith Minns, 71, who lives in Norwich, has chosen a different way... does he do it poetic justice?

Keith Minns Picture: Keith MInnsKeith Minns Picture: Keith MInns

I’ve watched Norwich City from the sixties, that’s almost sixty years,

So here are a few of my memories and Canary souvenirs,

Not an exhaustive account, but those which stick in my mind,

Apologies if your favourites aren’t there, and accept my yellow rewind

Norwich City legend Duncan Forbes. Picture: Archant LibraryNorwich City legend Duncan Forbes. Picture: Archant Library

Only the main stand was covered then, for just the privileged few,

Arriving hours before kick-off, to avoid crowds and the long queue

Steve Bruce Picture: ArchantSteve Bruce Picture: Archant

As a kid I stood on the open terrace, always at the River End,

On tiptoe behind a barrier, during every other weekend

Jeremy Goss Picture: Archant/ScanpixJeremy Goss Picture: Archant/Scanpix

On the back of the fifty nine cup run, I saw Errol Crossan and Terry Bly,

Ron Ashman, Barry Butler and Terry Allcock would all make City fly high

Don’t get illusions of grandeur, as they were then in the old Division three,

But were promoted to Division two that year, triumphant for all to see

Dion Dublin Picture: ArchantDion Dublin Picture: Archant

Geoffrey Watling chaired and owned the club, back then in nineteen sixty one,

And ex-player Ron Ashman replaced Macaulay, who led the famous cup run

Teemu Pukki Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdTeemu Pukki Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

The educated head of Ron Davies, and Bill Punton you just had to like,

As the crowd could often be heard, shouting “Bill, get on your bike.”

But maybe a little faster, was winger Gerry Mannion on the right,

Even after a summer break abroad, his legs remained pearly white

And then came Tommy Briceland, a fiery but talented little Scot,

Followed by Kevin Keelan, the City keeper who takes my top slot

With six hundred and seventy three appearances, a record which stands today,

The best keeper never to play for England, as Banks and Shilton stood in his way

Between the sticks for seventeen years, up to the age of thirty nine,

Promoted in nineteen seventy one, no other keeper could ever outshine

Division Two in the mid sixties entertained with players of varying skills,

Joe Mullet and Alan Black were fullbacks, without too many frills

Whilst stalwart Duncan Forbes paired up with Dave Stringer at centre back,

They soon became City heroes, putting fear into the opposing attack

Another famous duo, who were psychically at one in their roles,

Was strike partnership Manning and Curran, to assist and net the goals

We also had some good wide men, with “Kenny Foggo on the wing”,

But Charlie Crickmore was good for a laugh, as he attempted to do his thing

All standing was the norm in the sixties, no seats anywhere to be found,

A cup game with Leicester was a squeeze, as my feet never touched the ground

A record crowd to this day of forty three thousand, nine hundred and eighty four,

Reduced capacity modern all seaters, do not deliver such feeling anymore

Division Two champions in nineteen seventy two, and onward to Division One,

The craft of Livermore and Paddon in midfield, Trevor Hockey tackled for fun

Jimmy Bone and David Cross fought hard, but the crowd became more agitated,

As City struggled to compete that year, with the result of being relegated

Silverware was not plentiful then, as it is continues to be today,

But a League Cup final against Spurs led Saunders along Wembley Way

Unfortunate runners-up that year, and in seventy five it was John Bond,

But they lost against Aston Villa, alas still no magic wand

Arthur South became Chair in seventy three, and looked to change the style,

Of the tough fit side of Saunders, with more talent, composure and guile

So he appointed the debonair John Bond, to bring craft and skill to the team,

He brought tactics, talent and new players to facilitate his footballing dream

Some of the best wingers were in Bond’s reign, Suggett and Neighbour just two,

Later forwards MacDougall and Boyer, a partnership others would rue

Even son Kevin was applied in defence, and Mel Machin had style at full-back,

Whilst Dave Jones was no ordinary centre half, as talent he didn’t lack

But the most famous brain over brawn player, to slip into a Canary strip,

Was World Cup legend Martin Peters, with deft touches and leadership

Greg Downs was another favourite, with Viv Busby and Kevin Reeves,

Followed by the late Justin Fashanu, even in winter, played in short sleeves

John Bond provided entertainment, but in eighty took Norwich down,

Which led to a managerial change, as the mantle was handed to Ken Brown

Success by finishing in third spot, gave Brown promotion within a year,

So a couple of seasons back in the top flight, brought another welcomed cheer

The Barclay End and the South Stand had long been covered by this time,

And a new seated River end was built in nineteen seventy nine

Tragedy struck in eighty four when the main stand was burnt to the ground,

Replaced by a new stand in eighty six, which turned the stadium around

Brown continued the footballing theme, with players of craft and skill,

Joe Royle and Mick Channon entertained, once on the international bill

At last he found a good keeper, after a few less than exceptional brands,

In the form of Chris Woods, the Canaries again had a safe pair of hands

In the true style of centre backs, another fine pair came on the scene,

Dave Watson and Steve Bruce emerged, as a defensive duo supreme

Midfield was steered by Mike Phelan, but he was never the real deal,

Only when accompanied by the magic, of Irishman Martin O’Neill

The flanks saw Louie Donawa, do his very best out on the wing,

But he played second fiddle to Dale Gordon, who made the crowd sing

A couple of giants played up front, proper centre forwards with reason,

John Deehan netting many goals; Kevin Drinkell scored twenty that season

At last in nineteen eighty five, the League Cup trophy came Norwich’s way,

At Wembley against Sunderland, called ‘The Friendly Final’ on the day

Asa Hartford scored the only goal, to make the supporters proud,

Can’t think why, but I was not there, amongst the hundred thousand crowd

City struggled in nineteen eighty five, amongst the top tier of the elite,

And found themselves dropping down again, but they soon regained their feet

With new chairman Robert Chase in charge, returned next year again,

To the top flight, where one gets noticed, for another fighting campaign

This saw David Stringer, promoted from the ranks to a managerial role,

Probably the most underrated to lead, but soon demonstrated his control

With Crook and Townsend in midfield, Culverhouse and Bowen at the back,

Ruel Fox in support on the wing; Chris Sutton and Robert Fleck in attack

Five years managing top flight football, was Stringer’s claim to fame,

But as things were becoming a little stale, Mike Walker raised their game

Just one year on in ninety three, City achieved their best to date,

After topping the table for most of the season, finished in third; just great

Qualifying for Europe, with what I thought was a very mediocre side,

Beating Bayern Munich, to make Norwich City known worldwide

Jerry Goss scored a well televised goal, and became the nation’s hero,

But since they lost to Inter Milan, his contribution had been almost zero!

From dizzy heights, they had far to fall, as next year came relegation,

Managers, Deehan, Megson and Martin O’Neill, all fell in this dire situation

Robins, Adams, Bellamy, and Roberts all played during this troubled time,

Until Walker returned in ninety six, the start of a long pantomime

Builder by trade, Chase invested in property rather than players,

And the supporters became discontented as loyal turnstile payers,

The coffers were now at an all time low, and City needed a rescue plan,

Step forward Delia Smith with her cook books, but a very dedicated fan

A welcomed financial saviour maybe, but inclined to direct with emotion,

How long must City wait before they achieve another promotion?

Her first appointment with her heart, was Mike Walker’s early return,

But that only lasted a couple of years before she ended his second term

The trend continued in ninety eight, with Bruce Rioch made the chief,

The dullest man imaginable, this could only bring about more grief

One or two players however, did emerge, to put the crowd on a high,

Another centre back fortress of Craig Fleming and Malky Mackay

Darkest times under Rioch, thankfully the Scot was soon on his way,

So Delia varied her recipe, with a punt from elsewhere in the UK,

Previously of Ipswich, supporters viewed Bryan Hamilton as treason,

This Irishman was replaced by another, Worthington the next season

Mulryne, Drury and McVeigh emerged, to provide a bit of light relief,

But for me the athletic Gary Holt could never favour my full belief

Between the sticks developed, the young talents of Robert Green,

But he must be one of the weakest, that England had ever seen!

Now it’s two thousand and three and Worthington is finding his feet,

Peter Crouch and Darren Huckerby, becoming the Canaries elite,

Supported by Leon McKenzie and Mark Rivers on the wing,

Suddenly City were flying, and the crowd began to sing

After years of disappointment, at last in two thousand and four,

The Canaries were promoted to the Premiership, and the crowd began to roar

Up stepped Youssef Safri, to score a blinder from forty yards,

Would this be our salvation, or was the bottom three still on the cards?

In March two thousand and five, losing at home against Manchester City,

Delia rolled onto the pitch at half-time, pleading with this now famous ditty

“We need a twelfth manWhere are youWhere are you” came a tipsy cry,

Followed by the famous “Let’s be having you”, the airwaves did amplify

City struggled at the back this year, with a less dynamic defensive pair,

The awkward Gary Doherty, and Simon Charlton bringing up the rear

So down they went again, with more changes in personnel,

Dean Ashton and Robert Earnshaw up front, with Dickson Etutu as well

Delia had protected Worthington, who was now on a sticky wicket,

So bored with the man’s style of football, I handed in my season ticket

For some time I was subjected to Radio Norfolk, but thankfully lately could see,

Live action home and away on a Soccer App, or better still on NOW TV

Stubborn to the end Worthington continued to stick to his principals,

But with supporters becoming restless, his time was never invincible

Gone in two thousand and six, he replaced him with a crazy Scot,

In came the animated Peter Grant, taking just a year to lose the plot

Glenn Roeder entered Carrow Road with loan players at the top of his list,

But even with Lee Croft and Dion Dublin, it never proved the assist

Although departed after the obligatory two years, one hit is worth a mention,

He signed the well loved Wes Hoolahan, popularity not up for contention

But it’s now time for Delia to excel, with another recipe for disaster,

Appointing Bryan Gunn as manager was her greatest emotional master

Back to the third tier after fifty years, was his notorious claim to fame,

Thank god for Paul Lambert, who was about to restore City’s game

Chris Martin and Grant Holt with goals galore, aided by Hoolahan in midfield,

Soon Lambert with his attacking style, had the league title sealed

Back now in the Championship, with exciting football at last ahead,

Howson, Pilkington and Ryan Bennett, put City in good stead

Keeper John Ruddy took over in goal, often giving me the jitters,

And slowly Norwich began to concede, to the power of the bigger hitters

Lambert was seeking a bigger challenge than the club was prepared to pay,

So in came Chris Hughton to steady the ship, with a different style of play

Alex Tettey and Sebastien Bassong defended with some resilience,

Whilst Robert Snodgrass ploughed his craft, in a side of little brilliance

Hughton’s efforts to thwart the opposition, soon began to fail,

And in two thousand and fourteen, relegation was again the familiar tale

A few months earlier, Delia & Co demonstrated their naivety in my opinion,

Signing Ricky van Wolfswinkel, for an astonishing eight and a half million

He was so out of touch with English football, looking like a fish out of water,

Eventually trying the supporters patience, to become a lamb to the slaughter

Not satisfied with the failure of Gunn, she then appointed another ex-player,

Poor Neil Adams naively accepted the role, but never had a prayer

Desperate times saw the Board resort, to an unknown Scottish head coach,

And in stepped the inexperienced Alex Neil, with an enthusiastic approach

Against the odds he gained City promotion, by somehow ending up third,

But other than Nathan Redmond, his players were not worth a word

It was no surprise that his rise to fame, was most unlikely to survive,

As he facilitated their downfall, back to the Championship with a dive

It was ‘clear out’ time with the players, and trust was placed with Neil,

To spend the Premiership parachute cash, assuming he would do a good deal

Among them were Robbie Brady, Tim Klose and Alex Pritchard to name a few,

But nine million on Steve Naismith wasted, on a headless chicken in my view

On a positive note, there was one excellent acquisition at this time,

Outlaying two and a half million on James Maddison was just sublime

Too good for City, he soon went on to play at a higher level,

But recouping twenty four million gave the club a reason to revel

Neil failed to coach his new team of individuals, into a winning side,

So City needed a step change, and decided to look far and wide

The Board had learned some lessons from their emotional reactions past,

And re-structured the senior tier, to deliver in the long term at last

Stuart Webber was appointed, in the new post of Sporting Director,

Keeping recruitment and the football decisions, away from the Board sector,

In quick time he managed to turn around, the whole ethos of the club,

Recruiting German Daniel Farke, to head up the coaching hub

After removing Neil’s legacy of players, and their Premiership inflated pay,

He then turned attention to recruitment, for Farke’s style of play

With the new season about to start, he amassed an unfamiliar team

Unpronounceable names, twelve different nations, to don the yellow & green

Mario, Moritz, Teemu, Onel, but thankfully no Mactavish among the names,

Could the fans relate to them, in the forthcoming Championship games?

The left foot of Vrancic directed midfield, and Hernandez sped down the wing,

Whilst Buendia assisted Pukki to score, and the supporters began to sing

Off to a slow start, and against all the odds, their football developed just fine,

Understanding, talent and on the front foot, the Canaries began to shine,

Pukki just couldn’t stop scoring, whilst City emerged supreme

Running away with the Championship title, in two thousand and nineteen

Stepping up to the Premier League again, a supporter’s dream come true,

But were they equipped for the challenge, with a squad developed so new?

To date gaining points is difficult, and they are not doing very well,

Although survival could be unlikely, only time will tell

After a season in the top flight, previous managers have been cursed,

Or could Farke remain for another chance, if so he would be the first

History shows that City have been rightly, dubbed a ‘Yo Yo’ club,

Often best entertained prior to the game, with a pie and a pint in the pub!

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