The Giant Killers

Subtitle

 

 

All time greatest F A cup giant killings

Number 61

 

Manchester United 1-2 Norwich City

Fourth Round

Saturday February 18th 1967

Attendance: 63,405

Old Trafford, Manchester

Scorers: Don Heath {26}, Denis Law {34}, Gordon Bolland {65}

A Police raid on Kieth Richards Sussex home results in Rolling Stones band mate, Mick Jagger being arrested for possession of drugs, The National Front is formed in the face of growing British multiculturalism, Petula Clark is topping the charts with 'This is my song' While Golden Globe winner, Omar Sharif and Julie Christie are ill fated lovers in the turmoil of the Russian Revolution in 'Dr Zhivago'

 

At Carrow Road, Norwich City were coming to terms with life after Ron Ashman, his twenty-year long association with the club having come to an end in the summer of 1966. During his time as player and manager the Canaries pulled off a series of Giant Killings, including a legendary run to a semi-final replay in 1959, won their first major honour in the League cup in 1962, albeit when many top flight clubs had paid little interest in the competition, and most importantly, regained the Second Division status last held prior to World War II.

Ashman’s replacement, Lol Morgan enjoyed a modest lower division playing career in the 1950s before proving a success in management when guiding Doncaster to promotion from the Fourth Division. That was enough to convince the Norwich board that he was their man to cement their Second Division position and start building for the club’s ultimate aim. To reach the top flight for the first time. The new manager spent the preseason of 1966 getting to know the team he’d inherited rather than bringing in new blood.

His side was one without stars but littered with players who’d stepped down from the top flight to get Football at the second level. Goalkeeper, Kevin Keelan was of British Indian birth and had been Nigel Sims understudy at Aston Villa at the start of the decade before a rare opportunity in 1961 ended in a disastrous performance where he was held largely to blame for a 1-3 defeat to Leicester. The Villains promptly released him and his career looked to be drifting when Ashman paid £6,000 for his services in 1963.

Joe Mullett’s story was similar, making just three appearances for Birmingham in 1957 but two years without a first team game followed before Norwich secured his services. Just five years after the club’s League cup success, he was one of only two players still in the team. The other was Terry Allcock, who in turn was the only player left from the Canary’s legendary 1959 cup run when, as a Third Division club, they reached the semi-finals at the expense of both Manchester United and Tottenham. Allcock was arguably Norwich’s most famous player, not least for his five-year spell at Bolton from 1953 to ’58. He’d left Burnden Park after limited top flight openings during that time, which included him not being selected for thei r cup winning team in his final season.

Mal Lucas was the club’s only Internationalist, having represented Wales when playing in Leyton Orient’s solitary top flight season of 1962 before arriving at Carrow Road in 1965. One instantly recognisable face on his first visit to the dressing room was another of Orient’s ’62 team, Gordon Bolland, who’d made the move a year earlier.

Two of Morgan’s most experienced inherited players were Laurie Brown, who unusually held the distinction of having worn the colours of both Arsenal and Tottenham before being one of Ashman’s final signings in 1966, and his former Highbury team mate, Tony Anderson. The core of this experienced line up was completed by the Scotsman, Tommy Bryceland who’d enjoyed Scottish cup success in 1959, scoring in St Mirren’s victory before moving south to Carrow Road in 1962.

Such a team could, on paper have been considered worthy of a good top half Second Division finish in 1966, possibly even a tilt at promotion but Morgan was unable to get the chemistry right and the start of the season was a disaster with the club managing a solitary win from their first twelve games and lying rooted to the foot of the table. The prospect of a return to Third Division Football had the River End diehards grumbling that Morgan might not be the right man to fill Ashman’s shoes.

As the Autumn turned to winter, results improved but the Canaries remained firmly ensconced in a relegation battle into the Christmas period and towards the light relief of a third round cup tie with a struggling Derby side that provided the Canaries with their only three goal victory of the season back in November. Norwich strengthened their ranks before the tie by signing Kevin Keelan’s former Aston Villa team mate, Mike Kenning who, like Keelan made just three appearances in 1961 but had to leave Villa Park to find Football in the lower divisions. Just as in the League encounter, Norwich were three goals better than Derby and cruised into round four with the sweeter moment forty-eight hours later of being given a trip to title chasing Manchester United. Instantly thoughts in Norfolk turned to memories of the great ‘59ers. United had been one of their victims eight years earlier.

The current Red Devils were a point behind Champions, Liverpool with a game in hand and contained a side to frighten the best of the First Division, never mind a struggling Second Division outfit.

Matt Busby had by now achieved what many felt improbable, if not impossible nine years earlier, recovering from his horrific injuries received on a Munich runway to retake the reins of a club that might well have folded entirely but for the work of Jimmy Murphy to keep the team going when the cream of its crop had perished in the 1958 air disaster. As Busby gave his fourth round cup tie team talk, only Bobby Charlton was in the side from that last pre Munich title winning team of 1957. Since then he’d won a cup winners medal in 1963 with Tony Dunne, Pat Crerand, Nobby Stiles, Denis Law and David Herd while these six were joined in winning the League in 1965 by David Sadler and George Best. If that wasn’t enough, Charlton had recently joined Law as a European Footballer of the year and, along with Stiles, been part of England’s finest hour in being crowned World Champions the previous summer.

The potential of George Best was still on the rise, Bobby Noble was being tipped for great things and the acquisition of keeper, Alex Stepney from Chelsea seemed like a very shrewd bit of business. It was a vastly superior team to the side hammered 0-3 at Carrow Road eight years earlier but Norwich arrived at Old Trafford spurred on by the spirit of the ‘59ers, knowing that they too were, man for man a much better side. Old Trafford though was a fortress where only two teams had left with a victory in the last three years.

An Old Trafford packed with expectant Manchester United fans was swelled by the thousands who’d made the journey from Norfolk who watched the home side sweep the ball around the ground with a pomp that suggested the visitors were in for a torrid afternoon. For twenty-five minutes Best, Charlton, Law and company’s biggest problem seemed to be deciding who would actually put Keelan to the test, with moves breaking down as United tried to pass the ball into the net.

Yet just as the goal seemed inevitable, United hit the self-destruct button. Tommy Bryceland was proving a useful outlet on Norwich’s rare forays forward but was rarely likely to get the better of the experienced Nobby Stiles, despite making the World cup winner work harder than he often had to in the First Division. One of those rare successes saw him lay a defence splitting pass through to Don Heath who must have sworn for a moment he was offside as the entire United defence remained rooted. Alex Stepney did his best to close the angle but Heath, a late replacement for the injured Laurie Sheffield, remained composed enough to side step the keeper and slot the ball into the net and stun Old Trafford.

United were stirred into action and responded in tremendous style eight minutes later as Denis Law began a move on the centre circle and then, in trademark fashion, flashed Jimmy Ryan’s cross past a helpless Keelan for the equaliser. Old Trafford collectively breathed a sigh of relief and then urged their heroes on to this time put the game to bed but relentless pressure in the final minutes of the first half failed to provide the title chasers with a half time lead.

United emerged for the second half to play a game where patience would be its own reward but again, despite dominating possession, they remained alarmingly wasteful in front of goal as a series of barely half chances alarmed but failed to properly trouble Keelan. The custodians back four also took praise for remaining composed and well marshalled to keep United clutching at straws.

Yet again it was United who became architects of their own doom when another good forward ball from Bryceland was just too overhit for Bolland to reach it before Tony Dunne and Nobby Stiles closed down the danger. Both men hesitated however and, under pressure, Dunne opted to send the ball back to keeper Stepney without first looking to see his keeper already racing from his line. All three United players could only look on as the ball trickled towards an empty net with Bolland in hot pursuit, the Norwich man getting there just in time to help the ball over the line and provide Dunne with an unwanted assist rather than an own goal. {image: Scorer, Gordon Bolland {10} is congratulated by Mike Kenning {7} after putting Norwich back in front}

The pattern for the remaining twenty-five minutes was set as Norwich happily settled for defending their lead with increasing determination as the minutes ticked down. Bryceland got a little too determined in the seventy-first minute when he tried to swap shirts with Pat Crerand, while the latter was busier trying to get the ball into the City penalty area, getting booked for his trouble but for the most part the Canaries maintained the upper hand to thwart their illustrious opponents.

Despite the increasing pressure, the United forward line couldn’t find a way through and had only themselves to blame when the referee called time on a fantastic backs to the wall display from Norwich. United left the field and responded to defeat in the best way possible, avoiding defeat in all of their remaining fourteen First Division games to win the title. 

Norwich prepared for a fifth round cup tie against last season’s runners up, Sheffield Wednesday with a win and draw in their two intervening league games. A packed Carrow Road felt that, after Manchester United, a mid table inconsistent Wednesday side could be handled.

The tie was played on a sunny but bitterly cold and blustery day that hampered either side from playing at their best and would be remembered by Norwich fans for a cruel piece of luck in the first half that turned the game away from them. Wednesday were already leading by a single goal when Keelen received a routine back pass, picked up the ball and began to jog across his penalty area to launch it upfield. As much out routine more than necessity the keeper went to bounce the ball, as keepers often did only for it to take a wayward bounce on a divit. The ball was suddenly out of the keeper’s control and, under pressure from Wednesday’s John Ritchie, the ball squirmed through to David Ford who still deserved praise for a good finish.

The stuffing appeared to have been knocked out of the game until Tommy Bryceland rose to head the Canaries back into the tie midway through the second half and reignite the loudest noise of the afternoon. Briefly the home fans hoped for a stirring fightback but it was Wednesday who remained the more likely to score and they duly did, just over a quarter an hour before the end to flatten Norwich’s day.

The Canaries still had to fight for Second Division survival and sat with a three point cushion over the drop but just two defeats in their remaining eleven games saw them climb to eleventh, their highest place all season.

Victory over Manchester United in the cup was as good as it got for Lol Morgan as Norwich manager. Over the next two seasons under his charge the Canaries spent most of their time in the mid division and the club and manager parted company in 1969. Having been unable to follow the success of Stan Ashman, Morgan’s part in the history of Norwich would go virtually forgotten when his replacement, Ron Saunders achieved the club’s ultimate objective of promotion to the top flight in 1972.

All but three of the team had moved on by then. Curiously the first player to leave was the only member of the team he Lol Morgan signed, Mike Kenning, who continued a journeyman career in the lower divisions before emigrating to South Africa.

Despite scoring against Manchester United, Don Heath remained the club sub, missing the game against Sheffield Wednesday. He dropped down a division to Swindon in 1968 but unexpectedly found himself a Wembley winner with their 1969 League cup side. After dropping into non-league Football for a time, he returned to his native Teeside to work for ICI.

Joe Mullett, Laurie Brown and Gordon Bolland all also left the club in 1968 as Morgan tried to build a team for the First Division. Mullett and Brown both gradually dropped into non-league Football, the former passing away in his native West Midlands in 1995 while Bolland spent the remainder of his career in the Second Division.

The arrival of Ron Saunders meant a rebuilding programme that saw the legendary Terry Allcock hang up his boots in 1969 but remained very close to the club, working as a matchday host into the 21st Century. For Tommy Bryceland too it was time to move on, ending his career back at the scene of his greatest day as a player at St Mirren where, like at Norwich, he would later make the club hall of fame before passing away in 2016.

Saunders built his promotion side around three of Morgan’s ‘67ers. Kevin Keelan was well on his way to being a club legend and would go on to break the club appearance record before leaving in 1980 for the North American Soccer League and a coaching career in Florida. Dave Stringer too helped the club to top flight Football and remained until 1976 before ending his career at Cambridge. He returned to Carrow Road in the 80s, coaching the Youth team to cup success before managing the club to their highest ever league placing and trips to two cup semi-finals. Terry Anderson was the only remaining player in the 1972 side and stayed for another two years before trying his luck in the USA. He returned to the UK to take the traditional role of pub landlord, only to die tragically young in 1980 of a suspected heart attack while out jogging.

Manchester United: 1:Alex Stepney, 2:Tony Dunne, 3:Bobby Noble, 4:Paddy Crerand, 5:David Sadler, 6:Nobby Stiles, 7:Jimmy Ryan, 8:Denis Law, 9:Bobby Charlton, 10:David Herd, 11:George Best. Manager:Matt Busby

Norwich: 1:Kevin Keelan, 2:Dave Stringer, 3:Joe Mullett, 4:Mal Lucas, 5:Laurie Brown, 6:Terry Allcock, 7:Mike Kenning, 8:Don Heath, 9:Tommy Bryceland, 10:Gordon Bolland, 11:Terry Anderson. Manager:Lol Morgan

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