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Reliving the glory – when Norwich City’s FA Cup dream finally ended

PUBLISHED: 16:42 17 March 2020 | UPDATED: 16:42 17 March 2020

The Norfolk Dumpling, Norwich City's mascot, is paraded around the pitch before the FA Cup semi-final replay against Luton Picture: Archant

The Norfolk Dumpling, Norwich City's mascot, is paraded around the pitch before the FA Cup semi-final replay against Luton Picture: Archant

The FA Cup may be on hold – but March 18 day marks one of the great milestones in Norwich City’s history when it comes to the greatest knockout competition in the world

Action from City's FA Cup semi-final replay against Luton Picture: ArchantAction from City's FA Cup semi-final replay against Luton Picture: Archant

There is a certain poignancy over Norwich City’s participation in the FA Cup, past and present.

Today is the anniversary of City’s exit from the world’s oldest knockout competition in the most glorious run in the club’s history.

It comes four days before Norwich City 2020 might well have taken a step towards emulating the heroics of 1959 – had it not been for the coronavirus epidemic prompting the suspension of football and, consequently, a massive quarter-final clash at home to Manchester United on Sunday.

Glamour games like that are what the FA Cup is all about: whether we will ever see the tie played or not depends on so many factors out of our control. Back in 1959, only the snow provided any sort of barrier to the Canaries - and in those days, snow or not, games went ahead, thanks to an army of shovel-wielding staff.

Terry Bly runs head down from the pitch as Luton fans rush to the St Andrews turf to celebrate Luton's 1-0 win over Norwich City in their replayed FA Cup semi-final in March 1959 Picture: ArchantTerry Bly runs head down from the pitch as Luton fans rush to the St Andrews turf to celebrate Luton's 1-0 win over Norwich City in their replayed FA Cup semi-final in March 1959 Picture: Archant

Norwich did, of course, famously beat United on their way to the semi-finals back then. They went on to beat Cardiff, Tottenham (who they beat just a couple of weeks ago, although it seems like a lifetime) and then Sheffield United in the quarter-finals to tee up the semi-final against Luton.

The first meeting in City’s first ever cup semi-final was played at the neutral White Hart Lane, and ended 1-1, Bobby Brennan netting a second-half equaliser for City.

Then it was to Birmingham’s St Andrews ground for the replay. Sadly there was to be no happy ending – Luton’s Northern Ireland international Billy Bingham scored the only goal of the game and the dream was over.

“While the final whistle went there cannot have been many people, apart from the most partisan of the Luton supporters, in the 49,500 crowd, who really thought that justice had been done,” wrote White Line, our reporter.

Semi-final fans Picture: ArchantSemi-final fans Picture: Archant

Once again, the similarities with events of 1959 and the present day are remarkably, and a little uncomfortably, similar.

Some things really have changed, though. A couple of days later, the writer wondered whether fans would turn out again in big numbers for a league game against Bradford City, given they had had to trek to Carrow Road for plenty of games and it had become an expensive exercise, added to by the need to head to the ground to queue for FA Cup tickets.

Today, the chance would be a fine thing....

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