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Step into the time machine for a kick up the eighties

PUBLISHED: 10:47 24 March 2010 | UPDATED: 09:04 02 July 2010

David Cuffley

Legend has it that while Norwich City players and staff were celebrating their 1985 Milk Cup success at an official reception, at least one of the winning team slipped away early to spend the evening with supporters at a nearby hostelry.

Legend has it that while Norwich City players and staff were celebrating their 1985 Milk Cup success at an official reception, at least one of the winning team slipped away early to spend the evening with supporters at a nearby hostelry.

It is said that on the Monday night following the final, after an open top bus had delivered the victorious team to City Hall to a rapturous welcome from thousands waiting outside - and once the winners had made their speeches on the balcony - defender Dennis Van Wyk discarded his Wembley suit, changed into his jeans and made his way to The Murderers pub in Timberhill because he preferred the company of fans on the street to that of the civic dignitaries at the more formal gathering.

Tonight the same pub is staging a special evening to mark the exact 25th anniversary of the day the Canaries beat Sunderland 1-0.

Memories of the occasion are so vivid that it seems barely possible that a quarter of a century has passed since those jubilant scenes at Wembley and in the city centre, yet a huge amount of water has flowed under Carrow Bridge in the years since Ken Brown's team brought the trophy home - and English club football at the highest level is unrecognisable from the caged terraces, Barry Venison haircuts and short shorts of the mid 1980s.

As we prepare to welcome another new Dr Who, what differences would he find in a trip back to 1985 . . .

t The Friendly Final: The sporting behaviour of both sets of supporters earned wide acclaim but in truth it was a beacon of light in an otherwise dreadful year for the English game. The match came hot on the heels of riots at the Chelsea-Sunderland semi-final, second leg at Stamford Bridge and at an FA Cup tie between Luton and Millwall at Kenilworth Road, and just a matter of weeks before the twin horrors of the Bradford City fire, which killed 56 spectators, and the Heysel Stadium disaster in Brussels, in which 39 died before the European Cup final between Liverpool and Juventus. The Hillsborough disaster was still four years away. Thankfully, grounds are no longer potential death traps and violence at football, though not totally eradicated, has been greatly reduced.

t The foreign legions: City's Dutch full-back, Dennis Van Wyk was the only overseas player of the 24 on duty in the final, almost unthinkable in the top flight today. No two Premier League teams would be likely to field completely British and Irish sides in a major final today, even if clubs such as Aston Villa and Tottenham have a higher percentage of home-grown first team players than most.

t The kit: Teams still wore numbers 1 to 12 and there were no players' names on the back of shirts. There was only one substitute per team, gradually increased over the years to the current figure of seven. The final came in only the second season in which the Canaries wore a sponsor's name on their shirts - that of their first backers, Poll and Withey Windows. Sunderland shirts bore the name of their first sponsor, Cowie's.

t Live TV: The City v Sunderland match, screened by BBC, was only the fourth League/Milk Cup final to be shown live on television. Previously, only the Liverpool v West Ham final replay at Villa Park in 1981 and the Liverpool v Everton final at Wembley and replay at Maine Road in 1984 had been shown live.

t Never on a Sunday: City v Sunderland was the 25th final in the League Cup competition's history, but only the second to be played on a Sunday. The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Maurice Wood, an ardent Canary supporter, voiced his disapproval of the match being played on the Sabbath. The first Football League game to be televised live, between Tottenham and Nottingham Forest, had been a Sunday kick-off in 1983.

t Replays: None of City's three Wembley finals went to a second match, but they would have done if necessary. Had City and Sunderland drawn, it would have been extra time, then a replay if needed. The last final to be replayed was Leicester v Middlesbrough in 1997. Today, penalties apply after extra time and the first shoot-out was in the 2001 final between Liverpool and Birmingham.

t Money: City's victory brought them the “richest team prize” in sport at the time, with a reported £64,000 awarded to the winners, less than half the weekly wage packet of a top player such as Chelsea's John Terry today, but still comparing favourably with the winners' cheque of £100,000 in 2010. The multi-million pound mega riches of the Premier League were not dreamed of in 1985, the new league not being created for another seven years.

t Technology: Very few fans would have had access to mobile phones in 1985, so no text alerts with scoreflashes and no sending pictures of your friends beneath the twin towers. The internet was unheard of and even the CD Rom had not come into use until 1984 - until then most of us thought it was something Rigsby rented out to his tenants. Terrestrial TV and analogue radio ruled the roost. Evening News and EDP photographers were still using that quaint old stuff, film.

t Football coverage: Ceefax and Teletext were about as hi-tech as it got when City were last at Wembley. There were no websites and little or no cable or satellite coverage of football. The Evening News, EDP and regional TV coverage of the Canaries was augmented by BBC Radio Norfolk in 1980 and Radio Broadland in 1984 - enjoying a Wembley trip in their debut season.

t Wembley: The 1985 final was City's third and final appearance at the old Wembley Stadium, which still had terracing at both ends at the time. The cages came down after the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 and the ground became all-seater in 1990, and closed in 2000 before being demolished to make way for the current £800m stadium, at which City have yet to make their debut.

t Norwich City: In spite of playing effectively two divisions higher than their current League One status and taking an estimated 35-40,000 fans to Wembley, City were not as well supported in 1985. The average home gate in all competitions in 1984-85 was 15,751. Even allowing for the Main Stand fire of October 1984, there was capacity for at least 8,000 more than that. There was still terracing at both ends of the stadium until 1992. Off the field, the chairman, Sir Arthur South, was the man in charge. There was no chief executive until the mid-1990s.

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