Bargain Doug repaid City many times over

The departure of Doug Livermore after more than seven years as Norwich City's assistant manager has broken the final link with one of the club's most successful teams.

The departure of Doug Livermore after more than seven years as Norwich City's assistant manager has broken the final link with one of the club's most successful teams.

The side that Ron Saunders moulded into Division Two champions in 1972 not only gave supporters First Division football for the first time, but its legacy was a handful of individuals who went on to play major roles at Carrow Road after hanging up their boots.

Dave Stringer, given his debut by Ron Ashman in 1965 and a senior player for 11 years, returned to the club after four years at Cambridge United to manage the youth team, reserve team and, very successfully for four and-a-half years, the first team.

Duncan Forbes, a Lol Morgan signing from Colchester in 1968, played his last first-team match in 1980 but stayed with the Canaries for seven years in the promotions department before becoming chief scout from 1988 to his retirement in 2001.

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Livermore, signed by Saunders from Liverpool for £22,000 in November 1970, was the third member of that title-winning side to take a key position in the City management team long after playing his 139th and final game for the club in 1975.

He returned for a brief spell as reserve team boss in 1980-81, but well and truly came home in 1999 when he became manager Bruce Rioch's right-hand man, retaining the post under Bryan Hamilton and Nigel Worthington.

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Ever since that memorable campaign of 1971-72, and the Canaries' trip to Wembley the following season, at least one of this golden triumvirate could always be found at Carrow Road in some important capacity. That chain was finally broken yesterday as 59-year-old Livermore turned down a change of role in the wake of Jim Duffy's arrival as a new member of Peter Grant's coaching team.

My first recollection of Doug Livermore is seeing him in action for Bill Shankly's Liverpool against Leeds in a Match of the Day game not long before he joined the Canaries. I believe it finished in a goalless draw, as did so many of these grudge battles between the big teams of the late 60s and early 70s.

After signing for City, he made his first appearance in a 2-2 draw at Birmingham, then made his home debut in a 1-1 draw against Middlesbrough at Carrow Road on December 5, 1970.

I saw the game and I still have the programme, in which Saunders' programme notes were brief and to the point. They comprised a mere five paragraphs, one of which was “Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen”.

But he did make room to say of the Birmingham game: “Doug Livermore fitted into the team very well indeed and I am confident he is going to be another player you will make really welcome here.”

Elsewhere in the programme was Meet the New Canary: Doug Livermore, with brief details of the new arrival.

“We found out Doug was available and we moved immediately,” Saunders was quoted as saying. The signing was referred to as “a midweek, midnight deal”.

Livermore scored three times in 24 games in his first half-season at Norwich, but it was his stylish performances in midfield, which at times saw him referred to as City's answer to Johnny Giles, for which he won acclaim, rather than his handful of goals.

On hearing the news of Livermore's exit from Carrow Road, Forbes, his captain throughout his time with City, spoke of an intelligent footballer whose reading of the game made up for a lack of great pace.

“Dougie was an excellent player,” said Forbes. “He wasn't one of the quickest in the side, but he played ever so well and was really a key part of that squad under Ron Saunders.

“He could read the game very well and he could see a pass, whether it was long ball out to Ken Foggo or Graham Paddon or a shorter ball. His passing was always excellent.

“That midfield four of Max Briggs, Livermore, Paddon and Foggo acted like a barrier in front of the back four and I always felt that was why we didn't concede many goals.

“I was always shouting at them to 'Pick up your man' and we made it hard for the opposition to get any space.

“Dougie started off at Liverpool with Bill Shankly in the late 60s and early 70s and I always thought he would go into coaching, which he did very successfully. It's a shame for Norwich City to lose him.”

Tottenham, Liverpool and the Wales national side were among those to benefit from Livermore's involvement in the management and coaching side of the game. But to those who remember the part he played in 1971-72 and, in a different capacity, in 2003-04, he will always be a Norwich City man first and foremost, as illustrated by his well-deserved place in the club's Hall of Fame and a special farewell message from joint majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones, who paid tribute to his “unshakeably positive attitude in good times and bad”.

Like so many of Saunders' recruits, Livermore was an absolute bargain - and City were repaid many times during his Carrow Road career.



By my calculations, the sale of five top players in the last 18 months has brought Luton Town £8.65m.

So why can't the Hatters get their act together and spend some of that cash on installing undersoil heating?

They are often described as hard up, but they must be able to spare a few quid from the £3m they received for Curtis Davies, £1m for Steve Howard, £750,000 for Kevin Nicholls, £1.4m for Carlos Edwards and £2.5m for Rowan Vine.

Put a decent heating system in and the annoyance and inconvenience of postponements such as that of today's Coca-Cola Championship match against the Canaries at Kenilworth Road, because of a frozen pitch, could be a thing of the past.

Let's give the clubs without undersoil heating this summer to sort it out, and then start docking a point for each game called off because of a freeze.

I think they'd soon get the work done.

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