Norwich grab the headlines on Premier League opening day - 30 years ago

Action from the Arsenal v Norwich at Highbury. Chris Sutton of Norwich beats Arsenal's Steve Bould

Chris Sutton beats Arsenal's Steve Bould during City's stunning win at Arsenal on the first day of the Premier League - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Thirty years ago today, Norwich City went to Highbury to face mighty Arsenal on the first day of the first ever Premier League season. Football’s never been quite the same since – CHRIS LAKEY looks back 

It’s not what you’d want on the eve of your first season in the Premier League. 

Norwich City's leading scorer and local hero Robert Fleck was heading south to Chelsea for a fee of more than £2m. 

In his place came a young man from Manchester United, the club he loved but who had been unable to give him a regular starting place. Step forward Mark Robins.  

In Manchester they credit Robins with saving the managerial job of Alex Ferguson, thanks to an FA Cup winner at Nottingham Forest. Fergie went on to be part of the Premier League furniture, along with many of his Manchester United Thoroughbreds.  

But Robins had another trick up his sleeve. 

How the news of Mark Robins' arrival - with its fitting headline - at Norwich City was reported

How the news of Mark Robins' arrival - with its fitting headline - was reported - Credit: Archant

The day before the daunting trip to north London, Robins sounded like he was teeing up the shock that was to come. 

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“I know that Robert was a big hero here and that everyone will be aggrieved that he has gone, but hopefully I will fill that missing gap for them,” he said. “I want to do well for the fans, the club and myself. 

“Like Robert, I am a goal scorer who likes to play a bit too. 

It may take me some time to settle in but I can guarantee the fans that I will be giving 100pc.” 

The settling in period took around 24 hours, judging by what happened at Highbury the next day.  

It was billed as one of the title favourites against one of the relegation candidates. George Graham in the home corner, Walker, in charge of City for the first time, in the other. 

The setting wasn’t quite the magnificence that Highbury was known as – the North Bank had been knocked down in the summer and to hide the scars, was a giant mural. 

Mark Robins after scoring during City's famous win at Highbury in August 1992.

Mark Robins after scoring during City's famous win at Highbury in August 1992 - Credit: Archant Library

City were 2-0 down with 20 minutes to go, but turned the game upside down. Robins – who came on as a sub for Chris Sutton just before the hour mark - and David Phillips both scored within three minutes to make it 2-2, and then, in the final 10 minutes, Ruel Fox put City ahead. Robins was to have the final say, picking up on some indecision by Tony Adams and brilliantly chipping David Seaman from 25 yards. 

It may have been a bit confusing for City’s rivals that season, but keeper Bryan Gunn summed it up rather neatly. 

“They were supposed to be title favourites and we were on our way down,” he said. “Someone must have got their sums wrong somewhere. 

“We will gain some great confidence from that result and hopefully now with two home games coming up against Chelsea and Everton the fans will come to support us in numbers. 

“Everyone thought that when Robert went we would be a bad team. But as we proved again on Saturday, we have players who can compete against any team in the country and get a result.” 

It was a testing start to this historic season for City, but as Mike Walker pointed out in an interview with Colin Chinery, he’d checked the fixture list and had reached May without finding an easy game. 

What happened that day at Arsenal will never be forgotten – nor will the following nine months as City charged to a third place finish – still the best they have ever achieved. It opened to the door to European football and it also gave Norwich City a place in the history books. 

The Premier League may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it has left a mark that will never be erased. 

Norwich City at Arsenal, August 15, 1992: Gunn, Culverhouse, Butterworth, Polston, Newman, Sutton (Robins 58), Phillips, Bowen, Fox, Goss, Megson (Crook 87). Sub not used: Walton.