HISTORY - 1970 to 1985
Saunders' first two seasons in-charge gave few pointers to the dramatic events of 1971-72 which ended with the Canaries in English football's top-flight for the first ever time.
An unbeaten run of 13 games at the start of the campaign stood City in good stead and despite the odd setback, they never lost their top two placing through to the end of the season.
City's bad spell came in late January and February, but they finished the season strongly to clinch promotion away at Orient in their penultimate fixture, and the Championship at a rain sodden Vicarage Road Watford, where a Dave Stringer goal earned the Canaries the single point they needed to set City fans celebrating. Fittingly, in 1971-72, Norwich City Football Club became the new owners of Carrow Road, at a reported cost of Â£40,000.
The 1972-73 campaign was a truly momentous one in Norwich City's history as they kicked-off their Division One existence with a 1-1 home draw against Everton, Jimmy Bone netting their first ever top-flight goal. City's first win in Division One came, very sweetly, at Ipswich by two goals to one.
By October Norwich were in the top six, but a catastrophic run of 19 league games without a win between mid-November and mid-April left City looking at an immediate return to Division Two. However, three wins our of four, including a dramatic 2-1 win against fellow strugglers Crystal Palace at Carrow Road, eased them to safety. Strangely though, although City couldn't produce a league win in five months, their Cup form, particularly in the League and Texaco competitions took them to two finals.
The Texaco Cup was secondary, until the two-legged final against local rivals Ipswich Town, when over 65,000 fans saw Town come out on top, 4-2 on aggregate over the two legs.
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HATRICK FOR PADDON
The real excitement came in the League Cup, when a stunning 3-0 win at Highbury, courtesy of a Graham Paddon hat-trick, took Norwich through to a two-legged semi-final against Chelsea. Another fantastic away success, 2-0 at Stamford Bridge, took City to within ninety minutes of their first appearance at Wembley.
The return match at Carrow Road could hardly have been more dramatic. City led 3-2 (5-2 on aggregate) with just six minutes remaining when a heavy fog descended onto the stadium leaving referee Gordon Hill with no alternative but to abandon the match. Inevitably the fog lifted minutes after the irreversible decision was taken. Happily, for Canary fans, the match when it was eventually played was more straightforward with City winning 1-0 to book a final appearance against Tottenham.
The Build-up to the final and the game's kick-off was tremendous, but the match itself was a real anti-climax. Neither side played to their potential and a solitary goal from Tottenham substitute Ralph Coates sealed Norwich's fate and only in the last five minutes did City seriously trouble Pat Jennings in the Spurs goal. No Cup Final glory then, but a first taste of the Wembley experience for players and fans alike.
Season 1973-74 was some act to follow, but it did it's best. This time the Canaries made a bad start and in truth never recovered, and were relegated at the season's end. Another League Cup run ended in semi-final disappointment at the hands of Wolves, 2-1 on aggregate. The seasons major event came off the field as Ron Saunders resigned and the flamboyant John Bond was appointed.
John Bond's first full season was another exciting campaign for followers of the Canaries. Promotion was achieved, in third position behind Manchester United and Aston Villa, and the League Cup Final at Wembley was reached again. Disappointment though was repeated as City once again failed to perform to expectations, losing 1-0 to Ron Saunders' Aston Villa outfit. However, a style and panache was added to City's play as Ted MacDougall, Phil Boyer and Martin Peters stamped their mark on the Club.
Six seasons of top-flight football followed as the Canaries won many new admirers with their free-flowing, attacking style of football. By finishing 10th in 1975-76 City achieved another highest ever finish, but despite some exciting and exhilarating sequences, including a table-topping start to 1979-80, John Bond was unable to lift Norwich City up that extra notch and into Europe, although off the field a new River End Stand was constructed.
Early in 1980-81 rumours of unrest in the Carrow Road camp proved justified as John Bond left the Club to join Manchester City, leaving his number two, Ken Brown in charge. The Canaries struggled all season, but four successive wins in April seemed to have staved off the threat of relegation. However, a bizarre sequence of results in the last two weekends of the season saw City condemned to Division Two once again.
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The first two-thirds of the 1981-82 season gave little indication of any promotion hopes as City languished in a mid-table position. The spark which ignited the Canaries charge was the re-signing of Martin O'Neill who inspired a fantastic run-in to the end of the season, including a spell of ten wins in eleven games. Promotion was actually clinched in defeat, but City were back in Division One.
Two more top-flight seasons followed before the next historic season in Norwich City's history.
A steady start to 1984-85 was rudely interrupted by a fire which gutted the old Main Stand on October 25th 1984. The closure of the stand caused a few administrative headaches, but the season continued and kind draws in the Milk Cup took City to a semi-final clash with Ipswich. Trailing 1-0 from the first-leg at Portman Road a fantastic Carrow Road night saw goals from John Deehan and Steve Bruce take City back to Wembley. It was a case of third time lucky for the Canaries as Asa Hartford's deflected shot defeated Sunderland and City tasted Wembley success for the first time.
With a place in Europe guaranteed, City suffered a post-Wembley nightmare and a run of eight defeats in nine games plunged them into the relegation mire. An end of season win at Chelsea seemed to assure survival, leaving Coventry needing to win their last three games to condemn Norwich down. Unbelievably Coventry managed the feat and City were down again.
Worse was to follow though as City were robbed of an UEFA Cup place following the Heysel Stadium tragedy. All English clubs were banned from Europe, leaving the Canaries facing Division Two without the excitement of a first ever foray into Europe to look forward to.