Norwich City top 100 appearances: Johnny Gavin (19)
19 Johnny Gavin
338 appearances/132 goals
“He could jump and was an excellent header of the ball. Most of his goals came from his head, and he wasn’t afraid to get hurt. He had a few broken noses scoring goals and, of course, the balls were much heavier then. He was very fast too.”
Johnny Gavin, as described by former team-mate, goalkeeper Ken Nethercott.
Gavin was a goal-scoring phenomenon and his club tally of 132 is unlikely to be bettered – of the current players, Wes Hoolahan has the most goals with 52.
Gavin – who won seven Republic of Ireland caps – said in 2001: “I have seen Terry Allcock get so close and I don’t know how he didn’t break it, but he was more or less put back to wing half so that saved the record. I thought Kevin Drinkell might do it but he got a transfer. I fancied Darren Eadie as one who might get it but of course he moved away as well.”
Gavin came to Norwich from Ireland – he was working as a painter on the Irish railways and playing for Limerick when then City boss Doug Lochhead persuaded him to leave that all behind in 1948. Gavin chose City ahead of West Ham – because his mate from Limerick Kevin Holman had already agreed a similar move – with City paying just £1,500.
Gavin’s goals – 122 in the league and 10 in the FA Cup – came in 338 appearances over two spells between 1949 and 1958.
His first spell at City saw him score 79 times in 221 games before he signed for Tottenham in October, 1954. He scored 15 goals in 32 games for Spurs, but couldn’t settle in London and returned to Carrow Road in November, 1955 in a deal which saw future England centre-half Maurice Norman head in the opposite direction.
Another 53 goals in 117 games followed. He scored four hat-tricks for the Canaries and also featured in the historic FA Cup defeats of the early 50s - the 3-1 win over Liverpool in 1951 and the 2-1 victory at Arsenal at Highbury three years later.
Gavin moved on to Watford and then Crystal Palace. He also played for Cambridge City, Newmarket Town and Fulbourn.
Gavin ran a pub in Cambridge for several years where he lived until his death in September, 2007 at the age of 79.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Norwich Evening News. Click the link in the yellow box below for details.