Now, we’re not saying Norwich are doomed. But Richard Jeffery starts a three-parter looking at our three worst relegations in history. First up is 1985, when a horrific run in the second half of the season cost us dear…
Will we stay up? I don’t know. But, if we go down, then as long as Norwich have a go at teams and try to win every match then that’s all I ask.
After all, we’re wikifficially a yo-yo club.
No, not a club for people who like yo-yos you idiot, look here. This got me thinking about which was the worst of the eight relegations Norwich have suffered in their history. Some I can’t remember as I’m not *that* old, but three stick in my mind for differing reasons.
So, over a series of three parts, I’m going to look back over what are in my opinion, our three worst relegations in reverse order of, er, worstness.
Firstly, our third-worst relegation: 1985.
If you are lucky enough to be too young to remember it and are only used to the way football is run in the modern era, then you’ll find it hard to countenance what happened to us that season.
We’d been in Division 1 since promotion in 1982 – back in the days when the top-flight was known as ‘Not The Best League In The World™’ – and we were having an OK season in the league: classic Norwich of that time, playing some nice stuff, winning against some good teams (we beat a fantastic Everton side at FCR in a six-goal thriller, which you can see below) and losing to some bad teams (Ipswich).
We had some great players in that team, a central defensive partnership of Steve Bruce and Dave Watson (how we’d like that now), Chris Woods in goal (ditto), Asa Hartford, Mick Channon, ‘Disco’ Dale ‘Flash’ Gordon, John ‘Dixie’ Deehan, Mark ‘Marky’ Barham, Louie ‘Louie Louie Louie’ Donowa.
We also had a Cup run, another thing that younger fans would only have heard of from older relatives. Not in the FA Cup, but in the League Cup. Which at that time was known as the Milk Cup. Oh the glamour.
We only went and won it! On the way to beating Sunderland at Wembley we overcame 1p2wich – Terry ‘Fucking’ Butcher and all – in a two-legged semi-final thanks to Steve Bruce’s 87th minute goal at FCR. Scenes!
However, after winning at Wembley, whether it was a very big hangover, complacency or some kind of existential crisis, we went on a bad run. A very bad run. In the 13 games that followed, our record was W3 D2 L8. Despite this, and thanks to winning our final league game, we finished eight points ahead of Coventry, who were in the last relegation place.
Unlucky Coventry, you might think.
Not so fast kids. Unbelievably, Coventry still had three games to play. This wouldn’t happen today, and that’s because of that exact season; because of what happened to us. They should name the final day of the season ‘Norwich Day’ because of it.
In 1980-81 we’d have been home and dry, as it was still only two points for a win then. Cheers Jimmy Hill (RIP), you meddling chinny prick. But in 1984-85, it was three points for a win, and Coventry (closely associated with Jimmy Hill [RIP], conspiracy fans), who had stunk the division out that season, had to win all three of their remaining fixtures to stay up and relegate us in their stead. By this point, all the other teams, except Coventry and their upcoming opponents, had gone away on their summer holidays.
How did Coventry get on? Well, they duly won the first game away at Stoke, three days later. Gulp!
Coventry then had a home game against Luton six days after that. Which they also won. Parp!
But hold on, their final game was three days later, and albeit at home, was against one of the best Everton sides ever. That season they’d won the league, the Charity Shield, come runners-up in the FA Cup and won the European Cup Winners Cup (again, ask your parents), having won the FA Cup the previous year. We’ll be OK, lads.
But the Everton that ran out at Highfield Road that day were, to say the least, unmotivated. Coventry stuffed them 4-1. Shit!
I was 13 at the time, kicking a football about in my mate’s garden with the game on the radio on a lovely sunny day. It was the first time supporting Norwich had made me fed up; unsurprisingly not the last. I’ve had an irrational dislike of Everton and Coventry since that day.
That poor run of form – 11 points from 13 games – ultimately led to the first relegation I can remember as a Norwich supporter. Still, at least we’re not on as bad a run as that this season. Oh.
Have a guess at what Richard Jeffery (@twitchut) thinks our second worst relegation is. Tweet your guesses to @LYPB using the hashtag #releguessinggame. No prizes – a bit like if you’re relegated. Choices are: 1939, 1974, 1981, 1995, 2005, 2009, 2014.