June 19 2013 Latest news:
Monday, March 4, 2013
An exodus of around 35,000 people left Norwich and Norfolk on Saturday, March 3, 1973 – as Norwich City prepared for the first Wembley cup final in the club’s history.
A swarm of green and yellow headed to the nation’s capital 40 years ago to try to cheer the Canaries to Wembley glory.
The day may have ended in defeat, after a 72nd-minute goal from substitute Ralph Coates saw Tottenham Hotspur lift the League Cup, but there were still plenty of happy memories created that day for those among the huge 100,000 crowd.
It was the second time City had reached the League Cup final but their first visit to the home of English football.
Norwich had triumphed in the second ever League Cup final in 1962, beating Rochdale 4-0 over two legs, played at the two clubs’ home stadiums.
So a visit to Wembley was the talk of pubs, offices and living rooms across the county.
The Eastern Evening News, as this paper was named in 1973, reported that the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Maurice Wood, was to watch the game with his wife and two of his children, and sent a telegram to the team ahead of the match.
It read: “Duncan Forbes, captain Norwich City, Wembley Stadium – Go out to win. Have forecast goals by Graham (Paddon) and David (Cross). Don’t let me down. God bless you – Maurice, Bishop of Norwich.”
Tickets for the match were being sold by touts outside the stadium for as much as £30 and 60p standing tickets were being sold for £6. Ronald Lutkin, who lives in Rocelin Close, in north Norwich, was one of the City fans there that day, aged 15.
Mr Lutkin recalled: “We went on the coach which broke down outside Wymondham and we waited what seemed an eternity for them to send a spare coach. It was touch and go whether we would make kick-off!
“As we approached Wembley Stadium me and my brother decided to get off the coach and ran into the stadium. We had missed the penalty shoot-off, which saw young lads take penalties against professional keepers and we missed the first few minutes of the game.
“I was in awe of the stadium as I had only ever seen it on the television and the game went by so quickly.
“It was when the game was over our troubles began as we hadn’t waited to see where our coach had parked and there were hundreds of them.
“We eventually found it and slept most of the way home – a fabulous day that I remember vividly.”
Nigel Rudling, from Lingwood, was 30 years old at the time and still has all his memorabilia from the time – apart from one special item he took home.
He said: “The highlight at the end of the game was jumping over the barrier, running on the pitch and bringing a clod of the pitch home. I planted it in my lawn surrounded by a piece of aluminium.
“I’ve since moved house three times and dug it out of lawn and replanted it each time. When I moved the last time I left it in the lawn as I had no lawn to plant it!”
Dave Gillespie, from Cromer, remembers the game fondly as he was a Spurs fan from Northampton, who had tickets for the Norwich end of the stadium.
Aged just 12 at the time, he fondly remembers the Canaries fans singing On the Ball, City and the friendly atmosphere created by the travelling yellow contingent.
“We’re talking the 1970s here,” Mr Gillespie explained. “Mixing with the other team’s fans inside the ground could be risky, to say the least.
“Unfortunately I witnessed some rather unsavoury Spurs youths threatening a family of City fans in the car park before the match. In great contrast the Norwich City fans we stood amongst were superb. I wore my Spurs scarf and not once did I feel worried or intimidated. They were friendly, loud and a credit to their club.
“I can remember Ralph Coates scoring the only goal of the game at the Norwich end I must have jumped about a lot as you do in those situations but did not feel threatened at all. Great supporters.”
Richard Durrant, now living in Bourne, Lincolnshire, had organised a coach to the game from Lowestoft Grammar School with some school mates and has one special memory of the day.
Mr Durrant said: “The final was a friendly affair. One highlight for me was being able to start off our end with a chorus of On the Ball, City. As I shouted at the top of my voice ‘kick it off, throw it in’ it brought a lump to my throat to hear 30,000 or so Norwich fans then join in.
“This song had, to my recollection, come back into use during the cup run having been out of circulation for many years.
“I had never heard it until the Chelsea game in the semi-final and folks said it was an anthem that was reintroduced from the 59 cup run.
“The words were, I think, even put in the Pink ’Un and of course it has been sung ever since. Great memories!”
Eamonn Duff, who used to live near Lowestoft but now lives in the Peterborough area, and was 16 at the time, said: “My memory of the game is that there were few chances for either side, but Duncan Forbes could have equalised with a header.
“The feeling at the time was that if Jimmy Bone had not left shortly before the final we would have had a much better chance on the day.”
Ultimately City weren’t able to turn the excitement into victory however and the Canaries faithful had to wait until 1985 for a Norwich win at Wembley – beating Sunderland 1-0 in the Milk Cup final.