City in the top flight: Peters led draw specialists to survival
- Credit: Archant library
As our reviews of previous Norwich City seasons in the top flight continue, David Freezer looks back on 1978-79.
John Bond’s team finished 16th and 12 points clear of relegation trouble, despite winning just seven matches all seasons.
A fifth consecutive campaign of top-flight football was secured though, thanks to no fewer than 23 draws in 42 games – which remains a club record.
City also drew 13 of their 21 away games, which also remains a club record, as does the seven consecutive league draws between December and February – which was equalled during 1993-94.
Unlike that record-equalling run in the mid-90s however, the class of 1978-79 managed a hugely frustrating run of 14 draws in the 18 league games between October 21 and March 7.
There was a worse club record though, failing to win any of the 21 away matches – an unwanted achievement matched by Nigel Worthington’s relegated 2004-05 squad, although having played two games fewer.
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It was a torrid time for travelling supporters as the Canaries hadn’t won away since the opening day of the 1977-78 season, a 3-1 success at West Ham, and took the total streak without an away win in the league to 41 matches – thankfully finished by a 4-2 win at Everton on the opening day of 1979-80.
There was a new winner of the Barry Butler Memorial Trophy, as central defender Tony Powell completed a third consecutive season of playing in every City match. His run stretched to 148 appearances in all competitions.
Another brought in from Bournemouth by Bond, Powell was converted from a left midfielder to a full-back and then to a centre-back, as City started to replace the legendary duo of Dave Stringer and Duncan Forbes.
Brought in as part of a swap deal with Trevor Howard after City had been relegated to the second tier in 1974, Powell became established as a consistent presence with a firm but fair style.
A total of five goals in 275 appearances means Powell remains in City’s all-time top 30, with just seven Canaries players making more than his 197 in the top flight. He left in 1981 to play for San Jose Earthquakes in the USA.
Martin Peters – 10 goals
The classy midfielder led by example during his third season as Canaries skipper, scoring 12 in 42 games in all competitions thanks to a couple of League Cup goals.
The World Cup winner was given a guard of honour ahead of a 1-0 home loss to Everton in November, a few weeks after his 35th birthday, after being made an MBE for services to football.
His league goals included a brace during a 3-3 draw at Chelsea, as well as one of the goals during a 2-0 home win which helped keep the West London side on course for relegation.
Peters also scored one of the goals during a 2-2 home draw with one of his former clubs, Tottenham, as well as the equaliser during a 1-1 draw with high-flying West Brom at Carrow Road.
The biggest win of the season was 4-0 against Birmingham at Carrow Road in September, with goals from Kevin Reeves, Martin Chivers, Keith Robson and John Ryan doing the damage against a side that would be relegated eventually.
That was part of a bright start that had seen a newly-promoted Southampton team featuring former City star Ted MacDougall beaten 3-1 in Norfolk on the opening day, with City winning three and drawing three of their opening eight matches.
But otherwise, some of those many draws at least left some of the high-flying clubs frustrated, drawing home and away with Leeds and West Brom, as well as 2-2 at Everton.
Reigning European champions Liverpool proved far too strong for City as they reclaimed the Division One title from Forest in style.
Having won 4-1 at Carrow Road in October, Kenny Dalglish and David Johnson scored a brace apiece as Bob Paisley’s eventual champions romped to a 6-0 win at Anfield in February.
There was also defeat to Division Two opposition in the FA Cup third round, losing 3-0 at Leicester.
After the departures of MacDougall and Phil Boyer, the Canaries were struggling to find a fitting forward partner for rising star Reeves - who would go on to play for England and join Manchester City for £1million in 1980.
Robson had been effective after joining from West Ham but former Tottenham and England striker Chivers had been signed in the summer of 1978, only to be thwarted by injury after a bright start.
Davie Robb had arrived from the US and swiftly returned, youngster Phil Lythgoe had also shown promise but by the end of 1978-79 there was a new kid on the block, Justin Fashanu, with five goals in 15 games.