Spud Thornhill: How I wish I’d seen Martin Peters in Norwich City colours

PUBLISHED: 06:00 28 December 2019

Martin Peters is given a guard of honour in November, 1978, having been made an MBE Picture: Archant

Martin Peters is given a guard of honour in November, 1978, having been made an MBE Picture: Archant

As we head towards the end of 2019, it is time to reflect on a year of so many happy memories.

The Martin Peters testimonial programme on sale outside Carrow Road Picture: PAThe Martin Peters testimonial programme on sale outside Carrow Road Picture: PA

Great moments, like Mario Vrancic's winning goal at Villa Park, to great goals, like every single one at Bolton Wanderers. Great celebrations, like the night we won promotion against Blackburn, to great results, like the win over Manchester City.

So, despite being in the relegation zone as we enter 2020, the year 2019 will go down as a great one for the club on the pitch.

Sadly, it has ended very sadly off the pitch.

Shortly after the Wolves game, and for the third time in less two months, we lost another true Norwich City legend: Martin Peters.

I would love to give a proper obituary from a Norwich City fan who is old enough and lucky enough to have witnessed him gracing the hallowed turf over the five years Peters was at our beloved club. Sadly I am not quite old enough.

Peters signed for us two months before I was born in 1975 and stayed until 1980, two years before I saw my first game.

But I hope I can still do the man justice.

When I hear people talk about City signing Martin Peters from Tottenham Hotspur, some said they could not actually believe he would sign for us, let alone stay for five years. I think it may have been the same way I felt when another Canaries legend, Darren Huckerby, joined us.

I'm not actually comparing the two - they were different types of player, but they are two players who are thought of in the highest regard. Maybe some fans thought they were too good to sign for us - I thought Huckerby was, and he stayed at the club for five years as well.

Watching videos of Martin Peters, I can really only talk about his goals. The TV footage from back then is not like it is these days. But from what I have been told by every fan or pundit who watched him was that he was 10 years ahead of his time. As I've heard this so many times, I'm sure it must be true.

Whilst preparing this article, I did some research and I didn't realise he was the second youngest player in the England team that won the World Cup in 1966. He was only 22 years old. From the many bits of footage I have watched of that game, he showed a lot of maturity and knowledge of the game that was way beyond his tender years. I'm sure everyone knows he scored one of the goals which helped us win the World Cup.

After John Bond persuaded him to sign for us in March 1975, he became the man who gave us the lift to get us over the line and win promotion back to the old First Division the following month. He played in the final 10 games of that season. It was the start of very long run of consecutive games - he didn't miss a game until the start of the 1977/78 season. That's 103 consecutive games. In fact he missed only 15 games in the five years he was here, and that includes six games at the start of that 77/78 season.

Peters won the Barry Butler Player of the Season trophy in his first full season with us, in 1976. And he then became the first outfield player to win it two years in a row, which just shows how highly regarded he was by fans.

My only other disappointment, apart from never seeing him play, is the lack of acknowledgement by the national media that he played for us. It seems he only played for West Ham and Tottenham - despite playing over 230 times for us. Luckily, us Norwich fans know different.

Ironically, on Saturday, back at Carrow Road, we play Tottenham when I am sure a fitting tribute will be given by both set of supporters.

RIP, Martin Peters.

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