The night a true Norwich City legend was created
PUBLISHED: 12:04 09 October 2018 | UPDATED: 12:04 09 October 2018
One of the great Norwich City careers was launched half a century ago today – Chris Lakey looks at the career of Duncan Forbes
The story of legendary Norwich City skipper Duncan Forbes began 50 years ago today.
The great Scot, a bulwark at the heart of City’s defence and one of the club’s most loyal servants, made his Canaries debut on Wednesday, October 9, 1968 at home to Crystal Palace. City lost 1-0 in front of a crowd of 18,119 people.
Forbes – whose only other games in the yellow and green had been one for the A team and one for the reserves – had replaced another Canary great, Dave Stringer, who was sidelined because of a gash over an eye.
Sadly, it was an inauspicious debut as City suffered their third home defeat in a row.
Our man at Carrow Road reported that only Andersen, Keelan and Sharpe “produced anything like the norm”, although he added: “Forbes, too, was solid after an initial period of uncertainty, but the rest will want to forget the night’s work.”
Forbes also conceded a penalty – although Palace failed to score from the spot.
“Cliff Jackson wrong-footed Forbes before City’s debutant had had time to accustom himself to the light, and Forbes, on the edge of the six-yard box, did the only thing he could. He hung on. Referee Tinkler, who during the course of the game played some strangely discordant tunes on his whistle, signalled an infringement, but before the play stopped Lazarus slammed the ball into the net. Both sides protested, of course, and none more vehemently than Keelan, but Mr Tinkler was adamant, and Woodruff promptly placed the penalty about two yards wide.”
It got better, of course, for Forbes – the rest, as they say, is history.
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Forbes had joined City the previous month from Colchester United, where he had spent seven years, for a fee of £10,000.
Accounting for inflation, you can round that up to £168,500 today – and even accounting for the fact that football’s astronomical prices render normal prices comparisons useless, that was a bargain. And some.
Forbes would go on to make 295 appearances for Norwich, scoring 10 goals. He helped City into the old Division One, and then to the top flight for the first time in 1972 and appeared in the losing League Cup final teams of 1973 and 1975. He was player of the season in 1970 and even though he was sent out to Torquay on loan, he came back and regained his place.
In all, Forbes was at City for 33 years – 13 of them as a player, seven in the commercial department and 13 as the club’s chief scout.
City team-mate Dave Stringer once said of Forbes: “If he shouted in Norwich it could be heard in Yarmouth.”
In a recent column in this newspaper, former Canaries striker Iwan Roberts revealed that Bruce Rioch had enlisted Forbes’ help during pre-season training.
“All we could hear was Forbsy’s booming voice at the top of it screaming at us to “put it in” and telling certain people “to make sure they didn’t finish last next time!” said Roberts.
Forbes – now 77 – was a true leader of men, although sadly, he now suffers from Alzheimer’s. In 2014, City hosted Duncan Forbes Day - when the Premier League match at home to Stoke was dedicated to raising funds for the City hero with City donating all profits from a special matchday programme to support his care.