Norwich City A-Z: Y is for Youth Cup and a unique perspective on the prestigious competition
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There is a unique perspective on the FA Youth Cup for Norwich City supporters.
Not only have the Canaries managed to reach the quarter-finals in three of the past six seasons but they are also the only team to stop Chelsea’s rich kids.
The west Londoners have lifted the prestigious trophy in no less than six of the past seven campaigns. Their only final defeat of recent years came at the hands of Neil Adams’ youngsters in 2013.
The Murphy twins, Cameron McGeehan, Carlton Morris Harry Toffolo and Cameron Norman were all key parts of that squad, kick-starting an added interest in the competition for City fans.
A 4-2 win at Everton sent that group into the semi-finals before almost 10,000 packed into Carrow Road to see the second leg against Nottingham Forest, with Reece Hall-Johnson scoring the winning penalty after the tie had finished 1-1 on aggregate.
The excitement surrounding the young Canaries saw more than 21,000 attend the first leg of the final against Chelsea, with skipper McGeehan’s penalty enough for a 1-0 advantage.
The triumph was then confirmed with a dramatic 3-2 win at Stamford Bridge, televised live on ITV2, with an own goal, another McGeehan penalty and a Josh Murphy goal making for some memorable celebrations.
Morris is the only member of that team left at the club following the sale of Josh Murphy to Cardiff this summer for a fee in excess of £10million, following a year after brother Jacob was sold to Newcastle for around £12m.
While Morris is waiting to add to his one appearance as he makes his way back from a cruciate knee ligament injury picked up in the League One play-off final at the end of a successful loan spell, that squad has proved a successful age group.
At first team level that U18 team – mostly the Murphys – went on to score a combined total of 30 goals in 153 games.
McGeehan is now at Barnsley, Toffolo at Lincoln, Norman has joined Oxford after doing well for King’s Lynn and Hall-Johnson is with Grimsby. For so many to make it as professionals shows the value of a Youth Cup win being on your CV.
Norwich also lifted the trophy in 1983, when Dave Stringer’s all-conquering youth squad included Jeremy Goss, Tony Spearing and Louie Donowa.
Arsenal, Aston Villa and Manchester United had all been beaten along the way, before Everton were beaten in a second replay after a 3-2 home win apiece, Paul Clayton’s header earning the 6-5 aggregate success at Goodison Park.
Back to more recent times and City were unable to defend their crown in 2013/14, Morris starring in a 6-1 win at Preston only to lose 3-1 at Watford in round four. By the end of that season Adams was manager of the first team.
The next season brought a disappointing 3-1 defeat at Doncaster but 2015/16 saw hopes of another final on the rise after victories at Hull and Sunderland were followed by a memorable 5-4 win over Middlesbrough in extra-time at Carrow Road.
That took the likes of Todd Cantwell, Benny Ashley-Seal and Jamal Lewis to the impressive Etihad Academy Stadium in the quarter-finals, where the financial muscle of Manchester City’s young hopefuls proved too much in a 2-0 defeat.
The following season was brought to an end in the fifth round with a 2-0 loss to Spurs in Stevenage but last season kept the Youth Cup love affair alive with another quarter-final.
Adam Idah’s 10-minute hat-trick against Barnsley in the third round had stoked the flames and the disappointment was obvious when a 3-1 home defeat to Birmingham denied the likes of Anthony Spyrou, Alfie Payne and Timi Odusina a two-legged semi-final against Chelsea.
The Youth Cup might not make or break careers but it can certainly prove a big help, just ask the Murphy twins.
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