Brown recruits have proved test of time
David Cuffley Ken Brown enjoyed something of a rollercoaster ride in his seven years as Norwich City manager. Two relegations, two promotions, the Canaries' one and only Wembley triumph and some memorable FA Cup victories - plus a few ignoble defeats in the same competition - made it one of the most colourful periods in club history.
Ken Brown enjoyed something of a rollercoaster ride in his seven years as Norwich City manager.
Two relegations, two promotions, the Canaries' one and only Wembley triumph and some memorable FA Cup victories - plus a few ignoble defeats in the same competition - made it one of the most colourful periods in club history.
Brown was named this week as one of eight former City bosses on the short list to “manage” the all-time fantasy team to be chosen by supporters.
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City's “Greatest Ever” eleven, as selected by the fans, will be unveiled at a football and live music event at Carrow Road on Sunday, May 18.
As well as being a candidate in the category of best manager, Brown was a member of the panel that selected the short list of players to appear on the voting form.
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The nominations jury was chaired by Radio 5 Live's Pat Murphy and comprised Brown, Anglia Television's Kevin Piper, club secretary Kevan Platt and yours truly, representating the Fourth Estate.
In the end, a total of 44 players in six categories were nominated for the fan vote, which is now under way.
While Brown made a convincing case for including many of his own City players, he certainly did not have any greater influence than any other panellist.
But one thing that became apparent the longer the meeting went on - and it certainly did go on - was just how many good signings this particular manager made between 1980 and 1987.
No fewer than a dozen of Brown's recruits made it on to the list and one word sums them up - quality.
In fact, such was the competition in the goalscoring department that one of Brown's best signings, striker Kevin Drinkell, who scored 57 goals in three seasons - 28 of them in the old first division - did not even make it on to the list of forwards, where there were at least four or five other outstanding goalscorers of the past 50 years who didn't make the cut.
It is, of course, true that Brown was not working in isolation in bringing his players to the club. Men such as former assistant boss Mel Machin, Dave Stringer, Doug Livermore and former chief scout Ronnie Brooks all had a key role in talent spotting, with Stringer and Livermore recommending centre-half Dave Watson and Machin going to watch goalkeeper Bryan Gunn.
But between them they presided over one of the best recruiting periods City have known, whether it was making stars out of lower division players such as Steve Bruce and Michael Phelan and big clubs' fringe players like Ian Culverhouse, Mark Bowen and Ian Crook, or enlisting established international names such as Martin O'Neill and Mike Channon - the former England man being suggested as a possible target by the club chairman at the time, Sir Arthur South.
And whoever was responsible for the scouting, there can be no doubt that Brown did a great job of selling Norwich as a club to potential signings.
Recruiting players today of the calibre of Bruce, Culverhouse, Phelan and Drinkell - each of them very much on the way up when they joined Norwich - would make a massive difference to the current squad.
In the 80s, when there was more of a level playing field between divisions, perhaps we didn't realise how lucky we were with the quality of players that were signed under Brown - a trend that continued when Dave Stringer signed Robert Fleck, Andy Linighan, Andy Townsend, David Phillips and Tim Sherwood.
It's perhaps not surprising that drawing up the short list was so difficult.
“Debate was quite fierce over certain players,” said Murphy. “And there are some great players who we have omitted from this list as we felt that their careers were more notable at other clubs than they were at Norwich.
“We very much focused on player contribution to Norwich City. Certainly Ken Brown fought long and hard for his players, as you would expect a good manager to do. I think we arrived at a pretty robust list.
“But the beauty of Greatest Ever is that everyone will have their own opinions. Now let the debate begin and the wisdom of the people decide.”
t Fans can vote for their team by logging on to www.canaries.co.uk/greatestever
The “Greatest Ever” day will include live performances on stage from music acts including Jamelia, X-Factor finalists Rhydian and Ray Quinn, plus special guests to be announced. A full day of entertainment will start at 1.30pm with the show finishing at about 7pm.
Sky Sports' Richard Keys will host the proceedings with Kevin Piper.
The club will also welcome back a gathering of their footballing legends, with the climax of the day the unveiling of the “Greatest Ever” eleven.
Tickets for the event can be bought from the ticket office in Castle Mall or from Carrow Road. Tickets can also be bought online at www.canaries.co.uk/greatestever
Tickets cost from £25 for adults, £15 for concessions, and £10 for under-12s.
t Goalkeepers: Robert Green, Bryan Gunn, Kevin Keelan, Ken Nethercott, Chris Woods.
t Full-backs: Ron Ashman, Mark Bowen, Ian Culverhouse, Adam Drury, Joe Hannah, Roy McCrohan, Bernard Robinson.
t Centre-backs: Steve Bruce, Barry Butler, Ian Butterworth, Duncan Forbes, Malky Mackay, David Stringer, Dave Watson.
t Midfielders: Tommy Bryceland, Ian Crook, Jimmy Hill, Martin O'Neill, Graham Paddon, Martin Peters, Michael Phelan, Colin Suggett.
t Wingers: Mark Barham, Bobby Brennan, Darren Eadie, Ken Foggo, Ruel Fox, Johnny Gavin, Dale Gordon, Darren Huckerby.
t Forwards: Terry Allcock, Mike Channon, Hugh Curran, Ron Davies, John Deehan, Robert Fleck, Ted MacDougall, Iwan Roberts, Chris Sutton.
t Managers: John Bond, Ken Brown, Archie Macaulay, Tom Parker, Ron Saunders, Dave Stringer, Mike Walker, Nigel Worthington.