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Well, the half-time whistle has blown and it’s time for a (very) brief period of consideration. Our pre-season tour of Germany is over, but the action will resume on home turf very soon.
Was our Westphalian excursion successful? Yes, I would say so and for several reasons. In the simplest of terms, we return to the currently humid shores of Norfolk, England, undefeated following said tour.
After a, by all accounts, feisty encounter with Armenia Bielefeld, we achieved a 2-2 draw with the absolute bonus that Ben Godfrey’s ankle injury proved not to be serious, borne out by the fact that he played the full 90 minutes and 30 seconds against Schalke 04 as recently as Friday.
So relief all round and particularly for Daniel Farke I would imagine.
Beating German fourth-tier outfit SC Bonner 4-1 was probably no more than a distraction, but Adam Idah notched a brace in that game and by doing so must surely have cemented the #35 first-team squad shirt as his own, wherever that might lead him, and indeed us.
Beating Schalke cannot have harmed our confidence despite the oft-used maxim that friendlies count for nothing. However, I bet our lads had no wish to lose any of those fixtures.
Grant Hanley will never be a speed merchant and I really hope Zimbo returns to fitness asap.
Luckily for us, those suffering on-tour injuries should largely be back very soon, as in Emi Buendia, Timm Klose, and Kenny McLean. Better to pick up nagging niggles in pre-season than after August 9.
Oh, and Teemu Pukki acquired two goals and an assist in about 75 per cent playing time over the three games.
Plus Moritz Leitner was by all accounts a class act against Schalke, even if his goal was a little – okay, a big – bit fortunate.
And that’s a bonus for us all.
So we shortly resume proceedings against Brentford and Luton, followed by Atalanta and Toulouse. I shall be at both of the Carrow Road friendlies and will be really interested to see the tweaks Daniel Farke has apparently made at first hand.
When we kick-off against Atalanta, we will truly know the new season is imminent.
Hopefully, it will be my first glimpse of Patrick, Josip and Ralf, who apparently Schalke manager David Wagner refers to as “Ralle”, which must surely be akin us calling big Grant “Holty”.
“Look after him for us,” said the official 04 site, and I’m sure we will.
That’s the universal language of football, even with its own specific nuances.
The old hackles haven’t stood up on my neck yet, but they will do so very soon now.
So less than three weeks of the “phoney war” to go but I’ll leave readers with an interim thought.
I bought the home shirt the day it came out and also, a little later, the long-sleeved grey training top as often sported by Daniel Farke. I really like both of them and although we all know they’re relatively expensive they’re quality, so in my mind well worth the outlay.
It was when I was penning my piece for the Along Come Norwich fanzine, a while ago now, that it dawned on me just how eventful life is as a Norwich City supporter has been, and still is come to that.
Maybe a statistician out there will prove me wrong and life for us is just, well…normal, but from the inside it feels like we generally have more than our fair going on, and we certainly do when compared to those sides whose recent history has been spent hovering midtable in the Championship.
And I’m not just talking of the successes and the trophies – yes, kids of Ipswich, we have had some – but of the almost unrelenting yo-yoing that does little for the nerves but which ensures life is never ever dull.
The piece I wrote for the ACN fanzine was about the 1980s, mainly from a City perspective but also the wider view – UK and global news, music, films etc – but it was my concluding paragraph that highlighted to me (admittedly not the sharpest tool in the box) the extremes of the ups-and-downs of a Canary foot soldier.
In that decade alone there were two promotions, two relegations, a League Cup Final win, an FA Cup semi-final and a fourth-place finish in the top-flight, and what should have been (but weren’t) three separate sojourns into the UEFA Cup.
Not bad for a little provincial club with, then, average home crowds of around 15,000.
Admittedly, not all decades have produced the extremes of the 1980s but life in these parts is certainly never dull and it really does feel that, compared to others, we have more than our fair share of dramas – both good and bad.
Ipswich fans, of course, wax lyrical about the 1980s (and the late 70s and the early 60s and any other moment in history if you’re patient enough) but 17 consecutive seasons in the Championship says that the 21st century has been more beige than blue, even though they did rectify that depressing stat last season.
In researching this piece (yes, I know it is hard to believe), I was however taken aback to find that our friends down south qualified for European competition in nine out of ten seasons between 1973 and 1983.
Obviously, I knew they’d won the 1980/81 UEFA (my god, I’ve been reminded enough times), and knew that it was a good Ipswich side (sorry, but it was) but nine out of ten seasons in Europe? Hadn’t quite cottoned onto that. *doffs cap*
With that tucked up my sleeve, I too may scoff at a ‘UEFA Cup 1993/94 (participants)’ line, and I certainly don’t have the strength to argue that one of our aborted 1980s UEFA Cup runs may have helped redress the balance.
The 1990s were of a similar ilk for City, not because of the ups and downs on the pitch – there was just that one ignominious relegation in 1994/95 – but most certainly because of events off it.
It was, to say the least, tumultuous with the club soaring to that third place in 1992/93 – which was of course rewarded with our UEFA Cup ‘participation’ – but then plummeting to the depths of financial peril and near extinction.
For the fans, it was from exhilaration to despair in a matter of months, the journey from one to the other being like one of those Hollywood lifts at the top of a skyscraper that goes into freefall. Luckily the landing wasn’t bad as it could have been and Delia, Michael, Sir Geoffrey and Martin Armstrong were there at the bottom to help us out of the wreckage.
But it was a wreck, one minus a pot tom pi$$ in, and all far cry from Mike Walker’s ‘loosen the purse strings’ rallying cry on the eve of the Inter Milan away-leg; something I can vividly recall reading in one of the complimentary EDPs dished out that morning at Norwich Airport to the travelling Yellow Army.
The despair was absolute and 99 per cent of the wrath was aimed at one man, whose forced departure ultimately led to Delia and Michael, with the support of the two aforementioned outriders, taking the reins.
It’s a piece for another day, but Robert Chase didn’t depart stage left willingly and it took the full force of a supporters’ movement to dislodge him from office – something that resembled civil war, as recollected by Martin in the week.
There was nothing beige or, I guess, boring about it. The adrenaline was pumping, not because of success on the pitch but because of what many of us saw as a victory off it.
Like I said…never dull. Even when football was.
The 21st century has seen more of the same, only this time one of the relegations involved a stopover in the third tier, which to most of us was a new experience. And while that certainly wasn’t part of the masterplan, it did inadvertently offer a chance to overturn a losing mentality that had engulfed the club.
Our friends down the A140 may benefit from the same – who knows. There is an obvious common denominator.
In the 19 seasons of this century, we’ve spent five in the Premier League, 12 in the Championship, thankfully just the one in League One, and have been involved in five promotions and four relegations.
In other words, for almost every season spent in mid-table – which doesn’t allow for just missing out at either end of the table – another has been spent either reluctantly heading southwards of joyously heading northward.
That we’re currently in the process of heading north (literally) puts in a good place; possibly as good a place as we’ve been in at any stage of the last four decades. Arguably ever.
And it’s having lived through the heartaches that make this time so special, and what makes me smile when we’re scoffed at by those who see the upper echelons of the Premier League as home.
Those at the very top of the English game have, I suppose, the potential joy of winning the biggest prizes to look forward to but there are only five worth winning, and two of those are competed for by Europe’s elite. So said moments of ecstasy don’t happen very often – the rest of the time it’s just a battle to make top four and avoid the dreaded Europa League.
Is there really much fun to be had in that? Imagine being Everton.
The irony, of course, is that we aspire to be Everton – to be secure in the Premier League without the perennial threat of relegation, and to be equipped to go toe-to-toe with the top six without the relying on them having “an off day”.
But that’s for another day. For now let’s just embrace the madness, soak up every nerve-shredding second and not even contemplate giving Liverpool a guard of honour on opening day.
Ssssh. Let’s keep it to ourselves. The Premier League hasn’t cottoned on yet. But we know that we have ourselves a centre-forward with plenty of goals in his boots.
Or head, knee, backside, elbow, chest and, dare I say it, groin. A true centre-forward, a goalscoring number nine (or ’22’), the man who would sell his wife and kids if it meant a decent half-chance on a foggy afternoon at Selhurst Park, who doesn’t care how, why, when or where the ball goes or what part of him it went in off. It’s all the same to him.
The legendary David Coleman uttered the famous line, “Goals pay the rent. Keegan does his share”, in a reference to the inherent ability of Kevin Keegan to pop up whenever needed to apply the finishing touch to a move – to deliver the killer blow.
Few of Keegan’s goals were spectacular or the result of a piece of single-minded individual genius. But when there are games to be won and trophies to be held to the skies, no-one cares how the ball goes into the net, just as long as it does.
And Teemu Pukki has a touch of that about him. He just wants to score goals. And they can be beautiful. Or downright ugly and forgettable.
The manner he put away the winner in the 1-0 at Loftus Road with his chest prompted Schteve McLaren to declare it “not a proper goal”, but despite the great man’s protestations it counted, and it won City three points. He did something similar in the home win over Birmingham when Jamal Lewis’ near-post cross was sent goalward with a part of his torso that came in equally handy over his recent wedding weekend.
There are other examples, but those two were particularly fine examples in the art of goalscoring.
Upon his arrival, we were informed by Celtic fans – where he spent an unproductive time – that he was ‘no Gary Hooper’, and that we were wasting our time if not our money. How wrong they were in terms of the latter, although he’s certainly no Gary Hooper!
But those predatory skills will have been familiar to those of a certain age. One who, like Pukki, was unexceptional in so many ways yet lethal where and when it really mattered.
I give you… Kevin Drinkell.
There were more than a few murmurings of doubt when Ken Brown signed Drinkell from Grimsby Town in the summer of 1985. But perhaps they were understandable ones that came about as a result of a far more serious malaise? The Canaries had, after all, ended the 1984/85 season with one of what we easily call one of their characteristic freefalls in terms of league form, winning just three of their final 15 games.
They ended up falling from a more than respectable 10th place in Division One to 20th at season’s end and relegation; one that came as a surprise to most people in the game, let alone those of us in and around Carrow Road.
Brown had, after all, crafted a squad that ticked all the boxes. There was plenty of youth and boundless energy and enthusiasm about the place with the likes of Mark Barham (22), Louie Donowa (20) and Peter Mendham (24) while, waiting in the wings and a chance to impress, albeit one that would come much, much later was a certain Jeremy Goss – then still a teenager.
Top-level nous and knowledge came in the shape of Steve Bruce, John Deehan, Dave Watson and Chris Woods, while there were a couple of wily old foxes on the scene in Mick Channon and Asa Hartford who, despite a combined age of 72, still made 31 and 28 top-flight appearances respectively that season.
Channon was, feasibly, old enough to be the father of some of the younger players in the club’s first-team squad, a role he happily took on in a non-literal sense, acting as a footballing guide and mentor for more than one of them during his time at Carrow Road.
A decent team then, with a good manager. Yet one that still managed to get itself relegated. Football is, of course, littered with the sad fates of teams deemed “too good to go down”, a phrase which, in reality, is nonsense. If you go down, it’s because you weren’t good enough. And, collectively, the Canaries of that season were not – even though all of the players listed above (with the exception of Gossy) had been part of the team that won that season’s League Cup, beating Sunderland 1-0 in the final.
Even that win had lost some of its gloss with the ban on English clubs competing in Europe being declared sine die following the tragic events at Heysel that spring. A tilt at the UEFA Cup – then seen as a feather in your cap rather than, as it is now, something the cat deposited in it – would have been some consolation for the Canaries – one that might have provided a springboard to the expected run at promotion as well as helping attract new players to the club.
Ultimately, however, the deflated Canaries only had the promise of a promotion race to offer, one that, with clubs like Sunderland, Stoke City, Charlton, Sheffield United, Portsmouth and Leeds United amongst their peers didn’t look as if it was going to be anything like straightforward.
One thing that did sit very comfortably in Norwich’s favour was the decision made by the clubs three “big names” to stay put for the 1985/86 season in order to play a full part in the chase to get straight back into the top flight – something the club had achieved on each of the previous occasions it had been relegated.
The club could very easily have cashed in on assets like Woods, Watson and Bruce – and, more pertinently, each of them could have presented a very strong case for wanting to leave in order to pursue their careers at the highest level – but none of them did. It’s something that speaks volumes about them, as well as the sense of camaraderie that remained at the club that summer, despite the twin blows of relegation and the consolation prize of that European place being whisked away from the blameless Canaries.
Naturally, with the big three all electing to stay, Ken Brown didn’t have perhaps as much money in the transfer pot as he would have either wanted or expected. What he did have, he used very wisely.
Drinkell was one arrival out of six that summer; the other five new faces being Wayne Biggins, Gary Brooke, Ian Culverhouse, Mike Phelan and David Williams.
Of that quintet, it was perhaps the signing of Brooke from Tottenham that generated the most excitement. He had seemed destined for big things at White Hart Lane, scoring two goals on his full debut and appearing in two consecutive FA Cup finals before, in the 1982/83 season, making 33 appearances, scoring nine goals in the process. Not bad for a home-grown youngster in a team whose midfield also included the talents of Ardiles, Villa, Hoddle and Hazard.
Then, in February 1983, Brooke was involved in a serious car accident. It took him seven months to regain full fitness and, even when he had done so, it was noted that the severity of his injuries had affected his previously remarkable levels of stamina and energy. In short, he found himself short of breath rather too easily.
Brooke consequently struggled to make much more of an impact at the club and, after just seven games in the 1984/85 season, found himself heading for Norwich later that summer where, fit and eager to reinvent himself, he embraced the challenge that lie ahead at Carrow Road.
Drinkell, on the other hand, seemed to arrive almost as an afterthought.
The reason for that seemingly dismissive description of a signing and player who went onto do great things while a Canary is not made lightly. The truth that, although Brown had long identified that the Canaries needed a new striker, Drinkell’s name had rarely come to the fore and he was certainly not the club’s long-term target.
That had been Trevor Senior, then at Reading, who having contributed 41 goals for Reading during their Division Four promotion-winning season of 1983/84, followed up with another 27 the following campaign. 68 goals in two seasons. No wonder Brown, amongst others, had taken note.
To his credit, Brown’s pursuit of Senior, one of ‘the’ hot properties in English football in the summer of 1985 looked as if it would end with him putting pen to paper, with, at one time, even the Eastern Daily Press stating that he looked likely to sign for the club.
But it was not to be. Senior elected to stay at Reading for the 1985/86 season, top-scoring for the Royals again as they won promotion to Division Two. Credit to him for, like the Norwich trio, staying loyal but the Canaries still needed a new striker.
There were others the club could and maybe did consider. John Aldridge had scored 34 for Oxford United as they won promotion to the First Division* for the first time in their history – although he was never likely to drop a division having just won promotion with the club.
Then there was John Clayton of Tranmere Rovers. He’d scored 31 goals that season and was, like Senior, considered a player of some promise and potential. But he still ended up at Plymouth Argyle.
Maybe Norwich could have made another trip to Tottenham in order to expand on their striking options? Brooke and Culverhouse had joined with the latter, unknown at the time, set to become a club legend. Maybe someone like David Leworthy could be tempted to join them?
As it was, the eventual signing of Drinkell made a lot of footballing sense. The only doubt surrounding him at the time was that he seemed to have been at Grimsby Town for ages, having made his debut for the club in 1977, when he was just 16.
He’d been at the club ever since, scoring regularly, but, despite all that, never getting a move to even a slightly bigger club, never mind one with the sort of top-flight pedigree and aspirations that Norwich had.
He was 25 when he signed for Norwich and the nagging doubt was that if he was so good and such a good player, why hadn’t he moved on earlier? Brown ended up paying £90,000 for him and a partly sceptical Norwich support sat back and waited to see if he would be able to adapt to life at a bigger club and a hoped-for one season only sojourn in the Second Division.
Drinkell made his debut for Norwich, alongside Phelan, Brooke and Williams in the opening day Carrow Road win over Oldham; a Mendham strike sealing victory in a dour game in which, if City barely sparkled, certainly never looked like losing.
The Canaries coughed and spluttered a bit after that game, failing to record a win in any of their next four league games but, by the time Sheffield United rolled up at Carrow Road a few weeks later, everything fell into place. Drinkell scored twice as the Canaries strolled to a convincing 4-0 win.
A little over a week later Norwich struck four again, this time beating Crystal Palace in a 4-3 thriller at Carrow Road – a game that saw a young and still raw Ian Wright come on as a substitute for the Eagles. Wright was then the pupil, Drinkell the pending master. So, four goals in three games for City and he never looked back from thereon in, finishing the season with 22 goals from his 41 league appearances.
He was top scorer and Player of the Year as City, effortlessly in the end, won the Division Two Championship and that hoped-for return to the top-flight.
Drinkell, previously unheralded and ignored by the big clubs, for all his scoring prowess at Grimsby (89 in 272 appearances) now began to attract their attention. The fact he went on to score 19 goals in the First Division in his first-ever campaign at that level – top-scoring again and winning the Player of the Year again – illustrated just how good a player he was proving to be.
But not only that. It was the calibre of opponents and the games he was scoring the goals in that caught the eye. He scored both in a 2-0 win over Newcastle (for whom a certain G.Roeder was playing); a late equaliser against Arsenal, then league leaders, at Carrow Road and winners against both Manchester United and Liverpool, the former at Old Trafford.
Kevin Drinkell, the not so ancient Mariner who it had seemed that no-one wanted, had arrived.
He ended up turning down a move to Manchester United soon after Alex Ferguson had taken over at the club, biding his time and waiting, waiting for a move to a big club. And he got it, eventually joining Rangers for £600,000 in the summer of 1988.
His Norwich goalscoring stats at the time of his departure being 57 goals from 150 appearances, a more than respectable record and one which, if Pukki comes close to matching at the top level, will likely see him matching Drinkell in terms of both being a leading goalscorer for the club over a few seasons, as well as winning more Player of the Year awards.
Let’s hope so – and, in doing so, let’s also consider this little piece of footballing symmetry.
That while Kevin Drinkell proved himself at Norwich, he had to head north and to Glasgow Rangers in order to further his career – whereas Pukki, who struggled to hit that barn door in Glasgow, ended up finally revealing himself as a goalscorer extraordinaire south of the border.
How times have changed!
*Three top-flight clubs and opponents for Norwich in the 1980s, and all of them Wembley winners, have since spent time in non-league football – Oxford United, Wimbledon and Luton Town.
Matt Jarvis’ Norwich City career was one full of frustration and regret.
The England international spent an injury-hit three seasons at Carrow Road, failing to secure a long-term run in the side due to a lack of fortune with fitness. This summer, Jarvis’ three-year association with the club came to an end when his contract expired.
Sadly, but inevitably, a section of supporters decided to vent their frustration via social media directly to Jarvis, due to his lack of presence around the first-team.
For the first time since his release, Jarvis speaks exclusively to MyFootballWriter about his time at Norwich City, discussing a variety of topics from working under Alex Neil to how Louis Thompson served as the perfect pick-me-up in the darker days during his injury.
By design, these interviews aim to change perceptions and provide players with a platform on which to tell their story. Jarvis was the butt of jokes and sometimes dehumanised by the intensity of social media. He reveals how he broke down in front of his wife but also how retirement was something he never considered.
He lived through the sea of change at the football club, from a dressing room full of experienced, proven footballers to the first-ever overseas coach and a considerably younger dressing room.
Jarvis played 19 times for the Canaries, scoring one league goal.
Matt on arriving at Norwich City…
‘It started so well. When I signed there, I think it’s the best shape I’ve ever been in, physically. I was super fit and could go up and down (the pitch) all the time.
‘My performance in the first game (against Bournemouth) showed that. I had such a great start, scoring against Bournemouth at home and then against West Brom in the cup. For the next few games it was all going really well.
‘It’s so disappointing and I’m gutted that then I decided to block tackle Yaya Toure.’
‘I knew a couple of the lads and it was an experience going into a changing room where you don’t know too many people, but it was actually a really good dressing room. It was straight into the season and I had to jump straight into it and that meant it was a good start for me.
‘Slaven Bilic had just taken over at West Ham and he was great. I’d been involved in all the Europa League qualifying games in the early part of pre-season and I played in every game at the start of preseason.
‘Speaking to him, he didn’t really want me to go but he couldn’t guarantee I would play, so when the opportunity came to go to Norwich, I said ‘let’s go and start the journey up to Norwich.’
Matt on Alex Neil…
‘I spoke to him before I signed, and it was really positive.
‘When I went in, he was really particular and really on the ball on the clips from before games and talking to you. He used to bring me and Robbie [Brady], which was the left side, and he’d say ‘right, this is how the right back and the right midfielder, this is how they work, and this is how you stop them. It was all very thought out and all very particular.
‘For me, it was like wow. This is a lot of information and this is all really good, but I used to really enjoy that side of things. He’d make sure you went into games knowing exactly what you were going to face. He was very good in that aspect.
‘To a degree, there was little groups, but I wouldn’t say there was a divide at all. Everyone got on with everyone and as soon as it was out training and into games, there was a common goal and I don’t think you could read into anything that there was anything in the dressing room that could have consequently led to relegation.’
‘When you then get relegated, there is so much talk that goes on about players moving on and others coming in. In that group, there were a few that were coming out of contract, that were in their last year and there was a lot that was up in the air.
‘I wouldn’t say he lost the dressing room but there was plenty of politics and people’s positioning in the club and the dressing room maybe spoilt it a little it’.
Matt on injuries…
‘With my knee, I didn’t have an operation to start with. I did the full rehab like anyone else would and got back within the right time. But it was never quite right.
‘When I got back, I could still feel it and I couldn’t really do anything properly, I was having injections to get me through to the end of the season and then injections to get me through to pre-season. Getting back into pre-season, it was really sore. I couldn’t kick the ball properly with my right foot and was no good to anyone. I couldn’t carry on like this.
‘Once they opened me up, it didn’t show on the scan, but my medial wasn’t really attached properly. If I’d have known that from the start, who knows, it could have been so different.’
‘It’s demoralising [being injured].
‘It’s been the hardest few years of my life. Not being able to do the thing you’ve done for all of your life and that you’re passionate about is the hardest thing. I remember sitting there and thinking “I just don’t want to be in pain anymore”. Nobody should be thinking about that at 30 years of age.
‘Louis [Thompson} was injured at the time, the amount of days that one was struggling in the gym and the other would help them to get through it was great. We were both in similar boats.
‘At the time, I had a son. It was a nice distraction, but it also makes you want to get back even more because you want to take him to games and show him what his dad does for a living. The joys of taking him onto the pitch and seeing the crowd is something I couldn’t do. That was my end goal.
‘I did all of the rehab, all the running and all of the outside drills with the sports science staff, everything. Just as I would come back into the matchday set up, I’d tweak a groin. Another seven to ten days is fine but it would feel like another month because of the hard work I did. Knowing what’s in front of you makes it all the harder.’
Matt on mental resilience…
‘Mentally, I’m a lot tougher than I used to be.
‘It’s growing up and becoming a father that puts things into perspective. Football is my life – my wife would agree – it has taken over my life and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Those experiences have made me who I am today, they’ve given me the mental strength, belief and self-belief that I can do it and I have the quality to get back.’
‘I remember, vividly, I’d go to see an ankle specialist and it wouldn’t be going as well as I hoped, and I remember going back to the house and breaking down in tears. I was sat with my wife and I remember saying “I just don’t want to be in pain anymore”. It’s horrible. I have to smile because if not you’ll get me going again.
‘It’s a horrible place to be.
‘I didn’t like to breakdown in front of everyone else really. I think that’s a manly thing, but I felt I could do it in front of my wife. All of the lads have been brilliant for me. They could see what I was going through and how hard I was working. It wasn’t through the lack of effort.’
Matt on social media…
‘We’re normal human beings. Anyone who says they don’t read it and aren’t affected by it is lying.
‘You can be a very strong personality and you don’t bat an eyelid, but you do notice it. It doesn’t affect me like it used too because I’m older now. You don’t want to read stuff on social media that people are hammering you and saying, “why are you injured again?” and why are you this, why are you that, because it doesn’t help.
‘It isn’t a free pass to hammer people, that’s not what social media is for. To be getting hammered for doing your job is difficult and I had my fair share, for sure. I would say that 99 per cent of the Norwich fans were behind me and have since messaged me wishing me all the best. I fully thank them, and I wish it did go differently. I’m gutted it went the way it did.
‘I used to get messages like “you’ve not played for however long, what are you doing? You’re not at work”. I was doing more hours than anyone. When you’re injured, you’re in earlier and you finish later. You go to the games to cheer the lads on because you want to see them do well, you’re doing longer hours than anyone!’
‘I missed my son growing up, ultimately. I wasn’t there because I was trying to get myself fit, so I feel guilty that I wasn’t there watching him grow up. I missed two- and a-bit years of his life because I wanted to get fit. They are the sacrifices you make. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me, it’s just the way it is.’
You can watch the entire interview on our newly created YouTube channel ‘Total Football’ (link below). Make sure you subscribe as well for some excellent upcoming content including an access-all-areas documentary following Dereham Town, and a piece on Norwich City Ladies FC.
Total Football - An Exclusive Interview with Matt Jarvis - YouTube
During this off-season, we’ve experienced many ups, as in sensible, cost-effective recruiting, the impending departure of Nelson Oliveira and the announcement of very appealing home friendlies against Atalanta and Toulouse.
A temporary, short-lived down was relieved by the discovery that Ben Godfrey’s ankle injury is not as bad as first thought and Adam Idah, Patrick Roberts and Sam Byram have all contributed positively in Westphalia.
So right now only I could take MFW readers straight back to the catastrophic days of the English Civil War. Or more accurately, the Norwich City Civil War.
The fall of Robert Chase in 1995 is the equivalent of the battle of Naseby in 1645. These events were 350 years apart. Pigs’ bladders back in Charlie’s day and you couldn’t stamp Adidas or whatever on those of course.
Now in the real Civil War, King Charles I was a slightly built man of around four feet eleven. He was stubborn, economical with the truth and beheaded.
Robert Chase is neither slightly built or short of stature. Very much to the contrary in fact. To the best of my knowledge, he has never been conveyed to Tower Hill to meet the axe and anvil.
But something they share in common is that they both ignored the proles and had skin thicker than reinforced rhino hide.
I first encountered Mr Chase under slightly strange circumstances in around 1993.
I had a good friend called David Line who was a senior producer at Radio Norfolk. Over a beer or three in the BBC bar in Surrey Street he agreed to come to London to give our company’s staff the lowdown on how to deal with the local media – said staff never took me seriously, so David’s credibility and knowledge was a big bonus and he earned his fee indeed.
Afterwards, our train had just pulled out of Liverpool Street when this large gentleman descended on the seats opposite us, mopped his brow, opened his briefcase and extricated two mobile phones.
Dave and I looked at each other and you can imagine what we were thinking. I knew who this character was but Dave, not being a football fan, took a couple of minutes to cotton on.
After asking us “which phone should I answer first” he tried to offer us both tickets for that night’s game, against Arsenal, in the League Cup I believe. He seemed rather deflated when he observed that Dave and me had mobiles too.
I waved my previously-purchased ticket and politely declined, while Dave said no thanks as he preferred the 15-man oval ball game.
Three more times on that awkward journey he attempted to give us tickets. The bright red braces were doing a harder job than they feasibly should have done. Que sera and all that.
My second and final encounter with the Chairman should have been at the very end of his reign. For the only time in my life, I phoned Canary Call (long before the emergence of Bob Rutler).
Unfortunately, I won two VIP tickets for a game against either Coventry or West Brom for best call of the day, I honestly cannot remember which team we faced.
As I had tipped off my favourite media my mate Keith and I had a great interview with Richard Futter in the Mustard Pot (now the Fat Cat & Canary) on Yarmouth Road. Richard said “give the crew a wave at half time and we’ll see where you’re located and come to meet you after the game.
Half-time was surreal in the Directors’ Lounge or whatever they called it. VIP tickets? We had to buy our own drinks. No Chase. Jimmy and Albert Jones came over for a quick chat and were absolutely fine.
Either father or son said Chase wouldn’t show as he’d lost his bottle.
On the way back to our (outside) seats we were both effing and blinding about both the game and our reception.
One old girl turned round to Keith and said: “I’ve never heard language like that in my life and my husband was in the Navy”.
We went back to our usual seats in the Barclay. Right quick.
We never did see the Anglia crew afterwards, but they still ran about ninety seconds of the original interview on their Saturday evening bulletin.
The truth is out there (I’ve still got an old VHS clip somewhere).
Thanks to our MFW guest bloggers Don and Martin, I was inspired to scribble this.
I’ll leave the horses incidents to them should they choose to air their memories of that awful period in our history.
The ultimate irony for me was that my ex-father-in-law bought a house in Lingwood courtesy of Chase Builders.
Probably the only laugh we shared in nearly 20 years.
In the third part of his look at City in the 90s, Martin MacBlain looks back to a game in Nottingham, then one that followed at Carrow Road, and asks ‘what if…’
I wonder what the age demographic is of readers on this site? Sometimes you can glean insights from other writers or from comments written, but I’m sure that for every comment written there are 50 other ‘lurkers’. So, this article will either appeal to the sense of nostalgia of those of a certain vintage – or for the more modern reader they’ll wonder how we ever managed without the internet!
Ceefax – Pg301. Teletext 141.
You were either one or the other. Sure, you might check both, but you undoubtedly had a preference. For me, it was Ceefax. Pg301. The sports page. The original internet. Nine times out of ten there’d be nothing Norwich City related. But when there was… boy was it exciting.
Ceefax was how I learned we’d signed such luminaries as ‘super’ Matt Jackson and Ulf Ottosson. For those who unfamiliar with the workings of television-related news pages, each article would have a number next to them and you punch said number into your TV remote and hey presto you had your news article.
So when I saw the headline ‘Everton defender heads to Carrow Road’ – boom! I was all over that article before you could say ‘’the return of Mike Walker’’.
The other highlight of Ceefax and Teletext was on matchday when the lives scores used to flash up. Each page would be filtered by division and then each fixture would be listed alphabetically usually taking up two or three pages. One would have to wait patiently for the pages to scroll round to see if there had been a goal. And it was through this that I tended to follow the fortunes of Norwich City ‘live’.
Occasionally Norwich were selected for live coverage on BBC Radio Five Live, but that was a rarity and sometimes only the first half. Some memorable (well, for me) games that I ‘followed’ on Ceefax – Bolton 1 Norwich 0 (Lee 67) League Cup Q/F, Luton Town 1 Norwich City 3 (Newsome 2 Adams 1) our first game under O’Neill and Norwich City 2 Newcastle United 1. ‘That’ Andy Marshall game.
Norwich C v Newcastle Utd 1994/95 - YouTube
For those who aren’t familiar with the Newcastle game, let me take you back. I believe, to this day, that this game was the moment the club was set on a downward trajectory that arguably still hasn’t ever been fully reversed. Were it not for this game could we have been an ‘Everton’ or a Tottenham? Possibly? Potentially? Probably not, given their respective fan-bases, but there was a chance… let me explain.
Nottingham Forest away. December 1994. Evening kick off and ‘watching’ the game on Ceefax. I checked BBC 5 Live and realised the game was actually live – great! But almost to the minute that I start listening, I begin to realise that there has been a serious injury. This is bad. But who is it? Broken legs? Player carried off on stretcher…
But for whom? Who is ‘Andy Marshall’ – the player who is warming up. Then the sickening realisation that the injured player is Bryan Gunn. A key position and not one that is easy to replace.
The match continues and the ball goes out for a corner. Lars Bohinen goes to take it – the ball sails in and quite spectacularly sails over Marshall’s head and straight into the goal. Oh dear. A 1-0 loss but it’s okay. We are seventh in the league and sailing.
So onto Carrow Road and Andy Marshall’s home debut. By this time enough media coverage had made its way to the South West for me to realise that we had a special young goalkeeper on our books. An England youth international and highly rated, perhaps things wouldn’t be so bad after all. Newcastle rolled into town, Andy Cole and Paul Kitson up front and a flying Ruel Fox on the wing (who also scored – but didn’t celebrate) a penalty.
Back to Ceefax, back to being glued to that rotating page.
Now, when you’re following a match on Ceefax you literally have no understanding of how the game is playing out. You look at the score and it’s either win, lose or draw. It’s not until afterwards and a quick grab of the Sunday newspapers that you can glean how the match went.
And, as it turned out, we got battered. Andy Marshall had a blinder and we were lucky to sneak two goals from Neil Adams (yes him) and Ashley Ward, both inside 11 minutes. To the actual on-looker we did not need a goalkeeper with this young lad in the sticks. What a shot-stopper!
But, as it would later painfully transpire, not a presence and certainly not one to command a back line or dressing room of experienced players.
At the time none of us realised it. How could you? But that was the last time the club was ever anywhere near its peak. Imagine a bell curve. Let’s say, arguably, 1992/93 is the very top. Europe drops ever so slightly (due to league position) and up to the Newcastle game we are still sitting pretty high (7th in the Premier League in fact).
The squad, although ageing slightly, is still filled with Premiership quality players. Newsome, summer signing and new Captain. Ashley Ward, possibly signed too late, but nevertheless firing in goal after goal. Yet what the club failed, perhaps criminally, to do, was adequately replace Bryan Gunn. The Simon Tracey experiment perhaps scaring them? The Andy Marshall heroics perhaps averting them from looking too closely?
But if we had signed an experienced presence in the shape of a new goalkeeper, we could and should have maintained our Premier League status in the season before which the riches of the TV money began to explode into life.
As it transpired, we won one more game that season. One. Out of twenty. From 7th to 20th and straight into the Endsleigh Division One.
I don’t want to delve too deeply into the Chase era, that can be saved for another time, and I am of the Chase Out persuasion, but we will never know how he would have handled the additional riches, but perhaps, just perhaps he wouldn’t have felt the need to auction off our best players.
Could Jon Newsome have captained for the remainder of the decade? Would Ashley Ward have topped the Premier League goal scoring charts? And even more tantalisingly, would Darren Eadie have done a ‘Ryan Giggs’ and seen out his career with us?
All ‘ifs buts and maybes’, but if I’d known, whilst watching that Newcastle game on Ceefax, what it led to, perhaps, just perhaps I wouldn’t have cheered so hard.
England’s Cricket World Cup wasn’t really won on that glorious, sun-baked evening at Lord’s on Sunday. It wasn’t won by that magnificent display of batting fortitude by Ben Stokes, that nerve-shredding super over delivered by Jofra Archer or that unerring pick-up and bullet throw from Jason Roy in front of the famous old Grand Stand.
It was won four years ago, in April 2015, when Andrew Strauss was first appointed as the England and Wales Cricket Board’s new director of cricket.
Strauss’ arrival was a watershed. He promptly went about shifting the ECB’s priority from its traditional Test match focus to an unequivocally white-ball emphasis, overseeing the appointment of Trevor Bayliss as head coach and mounting preparations for a four-year plan that would culminate at the 2019 Cricket World Cup.
But most importantly of all, he called on Eoin Morgan to remain as his captain.
Why is such an introduction appearing on a Norwich City fan website, you wonder? Well, in light of England’s extraordinary triumph on Sunday in a game of cricket like no other, it dawned on me that the parallels between this England one-day side and Daniel Farke’s Norwich City were in fact rather striking.
In becoming the ECB’s new director of cricket, Strauss inherited a faltering England one-day cricketing machine, a squad blighted by the presence of inflated egos and past-their-best players who slumped to a humiliating group-stage exit at the previous World Cup.
The brand of cricket was dull. The team were going nowhere. Disillusionment among fans back home peaked to a level not seen since that hapless side of the 1990s. Strauss, a revered champion of English cricket and multiple Ashes winner, knew he had a job to do.
Fast forward two years from Strauss’ appointment, and so did Stuart Webber at Norwich City. The chronology of events has been well-documented, but as we know, Webber arrived at Colney after parting ways with his successful Huddersfield model and acutely aware of the problems that would confront him.
Like Strauss, he had to flush out the egos. Like Strauss, he had to do away with ageing deadwood. And like Strauss, he had to urgently reform the style of play and overarching philosophy at his new organisation.
Strauss kept the faith in Morgan despite that dismal campaign in Australia and New Zealand. Webber? While looking slightly further afield, he turned to Farke, that lovable, softly-spoken, horse-riding German who all those in City circles have now grown to adore.
The rise of both teams has been inexorable. England’s journey had more longevity; a prudent four-year strategy that saw a team continually evolve into the swashbuckling, enterprising and dynamic outfit who conquered the world in St John’s Wood this weekend.
City’s was a faster progression; a two-year transformation period that similarly saw the arrival of hungry, young talent and the advent of a style of football never previously seen in these quarters.
To track how this football club has changed over the past 24 months has become a needless task – it has already been done eloquently by many contributors to this site – but the parallels with this England 50-over side remain startling.
Think Strauss and Webber. Think Farke and Morgan. What about Jos Buttler and Emi Buendia, Jonny Bairstow and Teemu Pukki, Joe Root and Christoph Zimmerman, Max Aarons and Jofra Archer? Even Mario Vrancic and Ben Stokes – both so valuable and versatile: each player in this City team has their England equivalent in their own idiosyncratic and, slightly bizarre, way.
But the most striking similarities remain the broader themes. The vision of both teams has been admirable; progressive, innovative, bold sporting outlooks that have led the way in their respective formats and eventually achieved the ultimate goal. For England, that was at Lord’s on Sunday. For City, that sensational Sunday at Villa Park.
Both successfully reformed stalling sporting machines and executed a staggeringly effective plan. Both promoted the precocity of youth, the advent of a courageous, aesthetic style and a sense of unity that is often so absent in 21st-century sport. Both became so likeable, shutting out the noise and constructing an infectious set of players whose glory is enough to jerk the tears of those who so loyally support them.
Both have achieved something extraordinary. As an avid fan of both, I hope such triumphs only represent the beginning of their respective journeys.
The Lionesses may have fallen at the penultimate hurdle, but the Women’s World Cup was still an undoubted triumph – even though VAR did its worst – and did a great job in raising the profile of the women’s game.
The trick, as ever, is to lock in that interest and prevent it from being something that spikes every summer around the time of the European Championships and World Cup but then dips in between.
There’s also a need for that interest to go beyond the elite level and filter down the footballing pyramid to the grassroots of women’s football.
So, this season – in addition to reporting and commenting on the club’s return to the Premier League – MFW will also be devoting some of these pages to Norwich City Ladies FC. We plan to have updates on the ladies’ progress in the FA Women’s National League Division One (South East) and, at some stage, Connor and Ben will be weaving some of their YouTube magic and producing a documentary.
So, to kick-start it all and to find out a bit more about our very own ‘Canary-esses’, I’ve been chatting with Ben Gilby, the club’s Media Officer, who’s been giving us the low down on all things Norwich City Ladies FC.
So, what is your personal involvement and how/why did you get involved?
Ben: Like all of these things, it was never planned! As a Norwich City supporter based on the Surrey/South-West London border, I’m always on the lookout for the fixtures of the various Norwich sides to see when they are playing near me.
With AFC Wimbledon Ladies in the same division as Norwich City Ladies and playing their home matches at Carshalton Athletic FC, about twenty minutes from my house, it was a no brainer to go and support the team one Sunday afternoon.
The Norwich team put up a magnificent performance and gave it a hundred percent for the whole ninety minutes, simply refusing to accept defeat at any point. That allied to the high quality of the football made me really proud of our women’s team.
I have done voluntary media/web manager roles in sport for quite a while and been the programme editor of a South-West London based National League rugby union team for a number of years, and I had already decided that last season was going to be my final one in that role, therefore I would be free to do a media officer role for Norwich City Ladies from May 2019.
I offered my services and the club accepted, and now it’s full steam ahead for the coming season.
How did last season go? Does the club have realistic ambitions to make it beyond the fourth tier and, maybe, to the big time?
Last season was one which showed huge promise for the team, which fielded quite a number of young players at times. The headline, of course, was achieving the league double over Ipswich Town! Towards the end of the season, there were a series of matches where the promising level of performance from the team wasn’t rewarded by results, and we went into our final league game at home to Billericay Town needing to win to ensure our place in the National League Division One South-East for another season.
A fantastic come from behind victory showed the potential and belief in the squad and we’re looking forward to the challenges of the new season.
Another real bonus last season was the launching of a Norwich City Ladies Development squad, which provides not only a pathway to the first-team from girls football, but also an opportunity to players not playing first-team football to regularly play competitive matches for us and have the chance to catch the eye of the coaches and play first-team football.
The Development team play in a tough Reserve league facing the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, but it is a fantastic opportunity to develop our really promising youngsters further.
Naturally, in the future, it would be great to have Norwich City Ladies playing at a higher level. It’s worth remembering that there’s only one promotion spot available from this division. I think success will come incrementally as the youngsters, guided by some really talented more experienced heads develop their ability further.
Slow and steady wins the race, but we’ll get there – better to achieve success gradually and be ready for it than going all out and it falling apart at a higher level.
What needs to happen for the club to get to the next level?
Someone once said to me that a successful club needs to have an off-pitch set up a couple of years ahead of where they are on the pitch to ensure that when promotions arrive they are sustainable. Those, I feel are very wise words and we’re definitely making progress there.
Our highly promising squad also need time to get greater experience, and it’s important to remember that this will only be the second season of our Development squad, which is vital to bringing players through.
Obviously, even more sponsors would help – we already have some fantastic ones, but we are always looking for more to join the Norwich City Ladies family. It is important to remember that Norwich City Ladies are entirely run by volunteers – the players all have jobs or are students and the coaching staff and committee all work full-time as well.
The Women’s World Cup has given us a fantastic opportunity as the highest placed Norfolk Women’s side, our #MeetOurTeam social media campaign ran throughout the tournament, and continues to run still, is a huge success.
We have high hopes that this will not only attract more supporters to our games but help foster greater awareness about Norwich City Ladies. More youngsters coming to watch us, we hope will result in more girls wanting to play for the younger age groups who can then come up through the system to represent the senior team.
We have a great Norwich City Ladies family, and one which is very excited about the new season.
Give us a quick run through the star players and who we should look out for this coming season?
There’s great promise throughout the team. Alice Parker, Hope Armstrong, Rosie George, Natasha Youngs, Eliza McDonald and Reeanna Cook all won the league and cup double for the CSF Girls side last season, culminating in a Super Cup appearance against Manchester City.
They did this as well as representing the senior Norwich City Ladies side – so that is a real statement of the promise we have in our ranks. Our captain Millie Daviss is only 20 but has such an intelligent head on young shoulders, it was no surprise she was named Player’s Player of the Year.
Experienced Jodie Drake is always someone who can be relied on to give her all, something which ensured she won the Coach’s Player of the Year award. Chelsea Garrett is a great goalscorer, and Tigi Robson had a good campaign. Aimee Durrant is always someone who causes the opposition real headaches.
The Lionesses and the Women’s World Cup in general, have been great for raising the profile of the women’s game – and there’ll clearly be momentum going into the new season – but how, in your opinion, can this be seized upon to ensure the impact is long-term?
Long term we need to continue promoting our team and getting the word out through as many routes as possible. It’s all about more people coming to the games and spreading the word. The potential is there at the club without any doubt.
We have to use the World Cup to get more people on board locally to see what a fantastic product we have. Once they come to a game, if my own experience is anything to go by, they’ll come back again!
Previously, Norwich City Ladies have probably the less known about part of the club. That will change! Quite simply come and watch the team play, cheer them on and get involved!
Do you have players at NCLFC who have aspirations and the ability to test themselves at the highest level?
The ability is and aspiration is absolutely there. We have a good number of players who are capable of doing great things in the game – obviously, we’d love them to do it with us!
What are the realistic aspirations for the club this coming season?
Our head coach Greg Dimsey did an interview with me last week saying he was aiming to finish in the top six this season and have a good run in at least one of the cup competitions.
Our players have more experience now and I’m confident that the narrow or late defeats that hit us at times last season are now a thing of the past. Even more supporters roaring us on at home games would help the team – and, of course, we’d love to do the league double over Ipswich Town again!
Perhaps you could tell the MFW readers where they can read more about the team, where they play and when they can see their upcoming games?
Home matches during the league season are played at Norwich United FC’s Plantation Park on Sundays with kick-off at 2pm. At the present time, our league fixtures have not been announced by the FA Women’s National League, and I don’t expect them for another fortnight. As soon as they come out, there’ll be a posting on the temporary website.
We do have a full programme of pre-season friendlies –
14th July v Thorpe United (2pm The FDC Flegg)
21st July St. Ives Ladies (Away – KO and venue TBC)
28th July Boston United Ladies (2pm The FDC Flegg)
4th August Milton Keynes Dons Women (Away – KO and venue TBC)
11th August Newmarket Town Women (Away – KO & venue TBC)
A dozen doors away from me in the city there dwells an Ipswich supporter. I have had many conversations with him over the years but I can truly say I do not know his name and he probably doesn’t know mine.
That’s urban life for you I guess, but he’s a really nice bloke and loves his football.
On my way back from the newsagents last week he was applying the modern equivalent of creosote to his front fence. I thought I’d have a little gloat, but as his opening gambit was: ‘Well done. I’m surprised at what you achieved after such a slow start’, I just couldn’t go through with the one-upmanship, I really couldn’t.
What followed in our conversation was interesting and offers a degree of perspective.
I expressed the view that Paul Lambert extricated us from League One at the first available opportunity and surely he would achieve the same for them. The response was not exactly what I expected.
It appears that, at least according to my neighbour, that he and his fellow Blues consider Lambert to be a busted flush. He expects absolutely nothing positive to happen for them next season. At all.
He then went on to cite something – c’mon, it’s true – that we have both suffered from in recent times: a lack of investment.
I couldn’t get a word in edgeways (which anybody who has met me will know is most unusual) as he put all the blame on Marcus Evans with genuine conviction
‘He’s never in the ground. He doesn’t have any interest in football whatsoever and puts no money into the club’.
I briefly retorted that maybe Evans doesn’t want to walk into a potentially hostile, toxic atmosphere at Portman Road.
Then there was the predictable (and I must say not unexpected) comment that Evans has been seen at Ipswich matches less than a cuckoo in December and is simply using club ownership to suit himself and nobody else.
As I’m sure MFW readers can imagine, our conversation then veered into the realms of expletives on the subject, which I won’t repeat here. I swore a bit too as we discussed City’s not-too-distant dark days.
So for all my previous and well-documented criticism (sometimes justified, other times maybe not so) of Delia and Michael, they tick a couple of boxes that Marcus Evans ostensibly does not.
For good or ill, they have our wonderful club in their hearts. They rarely, if ever, miss a game, whether home or away, and are certainly interested in the football side of life. Although they pumped their own money in at the start of their tenure, they have apparently received it back and so they should.
I understand Ipswich receive the equivalent of zilch, nada and rien from Mr Evans.
While I wouldn’t like to hear a match commentary from either Delia or Michael, they clearly have nothing akin to Marcus Evans and my neighbour said I (and all of us) should be grateful for that.
And he’s right.
Around last Christmas time, said neighbour bought a basket case of a 1979 Reliant Robin van which he has painstakingly restored and obviously resprayed in custard yellow, so I can’t wait to see what he’s going to put on the rear side panels in terms of graphics.
I suggested ‘ITFC team coach’ while he laughed and said something about Mr Evans that is largely unrepeatable, but he did compare him to Del Boy with Lambert as Rodders.
We parted with me saying it was a possibility our respective teams could meet again in 2020-21.
His response was: ‘How can you lot end up in League Two?’