United would hold no fear for Terry

David Cuffley A home draw against Manchester United in this season's FA Cup third round is a mere one in 63 chance for Norwich City. Just as well, you might argue, if the Canaries are going to make any progress in the competition.

David Cuffley

A home draw against Manchester United in this season's FA Cup third round is a mere one in 63 chance for Norwich City. Just as well, you might argue, if the Canaries are going to make any progress in the competition.

Yet there could hardly be more appropriate opponents for City as they celebrate the 50th anniversary of the giant-killing run that took Archie Macaulay's team to the semi-finals as a third division side in 1958-59.

Terry Allcock, who starred in not one but two FA Cup triumphs over United during his Canary career, would certainly not object if the reigning European and Premier League champions were handed a trip to Carrow Road in January.

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City this week confirmed that they will wear a special 1959 replica kit for this season's third round tie - barring a colour clash that forces them to change.

The revived strip, with its yellow shirt, green V-neck and black shorts, was modelled by current midfielder Sammy Clingan when it was launched at the Canary Store in The Mall on Thursday.

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Allcock, now 72, played inside-right in the team that beat the post-Munich Busby Babes 3-0 in the third round to trigger their amazing run to the semi-finals in 1959. Then, eight years later, he captained the Canaries, then a second division club, to an equally remarkable victory when they beat United 2-1 at Old Trafford in the fourth round.

As he looked forward to the anniversary events planned by the club - including a reunion dinner for the '59ers on Friday, January 16 - Allcock reflected on two of the greatest days in City's history.

He said: “The whole scenario as regards the support and the national publicity didn't really start until we beat Manchester United. That was the lift-off, Manchester being massive. It was the year following the Munich air disaster and I'd lost two very close colleagues who I roomed with as a schoolboy footballer.

“Then it was a difficult day, it was a snow-covered pitch - which they wouldn't play on nowadays - and we finished 3-0, which was a superb result and it set the whole city off, it livened it up completely.”

City's 1967 success under Lol Morgan gave Allcock a second shock victory to savour.

He said: “The second time we played them at Old Trafford when they had Law, Best and Charlton playing and beat them again. Manchester United hold no fears for me. I never lost against them!”

However, if the Canaries are to improve their cup record, they may wish for less daunting opponents this time round.

Since their last FA Cup semi-final appearance against Sunderland in 1992, City have reached the last 16 of the competition only three times - and gone no further.

Their last League Cup run of note took them to the quarter-finals in 1996.

Said Allcock: “It's been very disappointing from all supporters' point of view. One of the things at every football club is that if the club is not doing exceptionally well in the league, the only options are the two cup competitions. It's also important from an income point of view - success breeds success.

“We've hardly gone beyond the third round in recent years, and our League Cup record has also been poor. I you have a successful run, it gives the players confidence, gets the crowd behind them and all these things accumulate to give us a bit more success.

“It would be an ideal time if the team could lift the crowd to play in the manner that we did and get the results that we did. I think the club would go from strength to strength very quickly.”

A limited edition of 959 commemorative shirts is being produced for fans to pre-order, while those worn by the current players in the third round match will go up for auction.

City are to seek FA permission for the players to wear numbers 1 to 11 rather than their existing squad numbers, and though the goalkeeper will not be obliged to wear the thick woolly jersey of yesteryear, a plain green top is being produced.

The sight of that old-style shirt - with its traditional canary crest and no sponsors' logo - was a memory-jerker for Allcock.

He said: “It brings back some marvellous memories - I'm surprised at the material, I thought ours were a little bit thicker than that. It's a great replica and it's going to be interesting to see the reaction from the public, I think.

“It's an excellent idea and I'm sure the club is grateful to the FA and to Aviva for giving them permission to reproduce that. I only hope that we have a good draw and we don't draw Wolverhampton or Blackpool, someone where we have to change colours anyway.”

There are still seven survivors from the City side that appeared in the third round or afterwards in 1959.

“It will be a marvellous occasion. We had the 40th anniversary and now we have the 50th anniversary but unfortunately one or two of my colleagues have passed on since that time. Being one of the younger members of the team, it's nice to still be about and capable of seeing the present generation play,” said Allcock.

“It will be very enjoyable, with a little bit of sadness thrown in as well, wishing that you were doing it with them, alongside them, but those things have passed for many years now.”

At 24, Northern Ireland international Clingan is far too young to remember any of City's FA Cup exploits. He was only eight when they last reached the semi-finals. But he has a desire to share in an extended cup adventure.

He said: “I haven't really had a cup run in any competition and I think it would be good to have one because when you're in a competition like that and you're winning games, it breeds confidence and you can take that into your league form.”

The closest he has come to the FA Cup big time is a 3-0 fourth round defeat at Chelsea two seasons ago when he was a Nottingham Forest player. But Forest were already three goals down when he was introduced at half-time.

He said: “I have missed out but I did get a good game against Chelsea when we got drawn away at Stamford Bridge. I played the whole of the second half and it was great.”

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