Can Farke's men emulate Norwich City's record-breaking class of '86?

Norwich City, Division Two champions in 1986

Norwich City - Division Two champions in 1986, after a season which included a club record 10 league wins in a row. Back (left to right): Dale Gordon, David Williams, Paul Clayton, Michael Phelan, Chris Woods, Steve Bruce, Ian Culverhouse, Garry Brooke.; Front (left to right) Dennis Van Wyk, Dave Watson, John Deehan, Kevin Drinkell - Credit: Archant

The statistical sideshow to this weekend’s game against Blackburn is that victory would see Norwich City equal a club record for consecutive league wins – CHRIS LAKEY looks at the last team to achieve the feat. 

The power of 10 – it last happened over the winter of 1985-86 and one more win for Daniel Farke’s side will see them become only the second Norwich City team to go into double figures for consecutive league wins. 

A comparison has to be made – something that special must have a common thread... mustn’t it? 

Ken Brown was manager in 1985-86 – a man with a perpetual smile and cheery word, and one who, you suspect, would have turned a blind eye to a few beers after a game. The days of sports science, special diets, fitness regimes and every statistic in the book were way off in the future. 

The common thread is that both Brown and Farke know footballers, what makes them tick, and how to get the best out of them. 

And they know the ones they can rely upon. For Chris Woods read Tim Krul. For Kevin Drinkell read Teemu Pukki. For Steve Bruce read Grant Hanley. 

Norwich City boss Ken Brown celebrates the club's promotion success with supporters in 1986

Norwich City boss Ken Brown celebrates the club's promotion success with supporters in 1986 - Credit: Archant

Remarkably, Brown’s record-breaking team - which ended the season winning the Division Two title - featured just 11 players. For the first nine games the starting line-up was exactly the same and it was only in the final win, at Crystal Palace, did it change, when Dennis van Wyk didn’t play. 

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The starting line-ups in the current run haven’t changed much, but circumstances are different: more substitutes are available and games have come thick and fast because the Covid pandemic has condensed the season. 

The main players from the nine-wins sequence, with start in parentheses, are: Tim Krul (9), Max Aarons (9), Grant Hanley (9), Ben Gibson (7), Dimitris Giannolis (9), Kenny McLean (9), Emi Buendia (8), Todd Cantwell (7), Mario Vrancic (6), Oliver Skipp (9), Teemu Pukki (9). 

And Brown’s boys recorded their 10 wins over a 64-day period, from November 23 to January 25.  

If City beat Blackburn, their run will have come in the space of just 41 days - February 13 to March 20. 

So who were the main players in the class of 86? 

Former Norwich City goalkeeper Chris Woods on England duty

Chris Woods on England duty - Credit: Archant

Chris Woods: Became a fully-fledged England international, but this was his last season at City – one in which he started every league game – as he joined Rangers in the summer of 1986.  

Ian Culverhouse: Right back who was Mr Consistent at Carrow Road for almost a decade. Had joined City in the October before the run began and went on to make more than 350 appearances, later becoming assistant manager. 

Steve Bruce: Didn’t miss a league game all season. Led by example and went on to greater thing at Manchester United. 

Dave Watson: Another who didn’t miss a league game. Unknown Liverpool reserve when he signed in 1980, Canaries legend when he left for Everton in 1986.  

Dennis van Wijk: Missed the final game of the run. Another who left in the summer of 1986. 

Mark Barham: Pacey winger who came through the ranks, but after leaving a knee injury forced him into early retirement. 

Pete Mendham:  Midfielder powerhouse, product of Norfolk, who came through the youth set-up. Forced to retire in 1987 because of a pelvic injury. 

Mike Phelan: Another ever-present for the season. One of the big influences in midfield, became club captain on Bruce’s departure, leading the club to some of its greatest heights. 

David Williams: Was 30 when he joined City, 85-6 being his first season. Became player coach and assistant manager and later returned to work with the academy. 

Wayne Biggins: Big, strong striker brought in from Burnley, having spent the early part of his playing career in non league, including time at King’s Lynn Town. The foil to Kevin Drinkell. 

Kevin Drinkell: The Pukki of this era – scored six goals in the run and was the main catalyst all season up front – scored 22 goals in his 41 league games. 

Former Norwich City players Dave Watson and Kevin Drinkell

Friends reunited - Dave Watson, left, and Kevin Drinkell at Norwich City's centenary event in 2002 - Credit: Archant

1985/86 run 

Nov 23 - City 3 Grimsby 2 

Nov 30 – Leeds 0 City 2 

Dec 7 – City 3 Blackburn 0 

Dec 14 – Oldham 1 City 3 

Dec 21 – City 6 Millwall 1 

Dec 26 – City 3 Charlton 1 

Jan 1 – Fulham 0 City 1 

Jan 11 – City 2 Middlesbrough 0 

Jan 18 – City 2 Portsmouth 0 

Jan 25 – Palace 1 City 2 

2021 run 

Feb 13 – City 4 Stoke 1 

Feb 17 – Coventry 0 City 2 

Feb 20 –City 1 Rotherham 0 

Feb 23 – Birmingham 1 City 3 

Feb 28 – Wycombe 0 City 2 

March 3 - City 1 Brentford 0 

March 6  – City 3 Luton 0 

March 14 – Sheff Weds 1 City 2 

March 17 – Nottm Forest 0 City 2 

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