A History of Norwich City in 100 Goals No. 5: Jimmy Hill v Rochdale


Nick Hayhoe continues his A History of Norwich City in 100 Goals series. This time it's Tuesday 1 May, 1962 and Norwich City are playing in a cup final...

Jimmy Hill may probably forever be sick of saying “no not that one” whenever introducing himself as an ex-footballer, but the winger from County Antrim’s career certainly does not live in the shadow of his more famous namesake. A highly successful, skillful and potent league footballer in his own right, Hill scored 66 goals for Norwich in his 195 appearances and was a member of the 59ers who, as will be mentioned once or twice in A History of Norwich City in 100 Goals oh-so-famously reached the FA Cup Semi Final.

Jimmy Hill also did something during his Norwich career that has turned out to be extremely rare. He scored for Norwich City in the final of a major trophy. He did this when he scored the only goal of the game in the second leg of the League Cup final at Carrow Road  – a win that sealed Norwich a 4-0 aggregate win against Rochdale.

The League Cup, in its early days, was struggling to find its feet as a legitimate competition. The biggest sides didn’t enter the cup as there was not yet a Wembley final or a place in Europe, and the fact that Rochdale were only in the 4th Division goes someway to detailing the lack of interest the larger sides who did enter had. As a result of this, and the fact Norwich already led the tie after a 3-0 win at Spotland in the first leg, only 19,800 were officially present at Carrow Road for what was, historically at least, a significant occasion (for comparison, 39,890 had turned up for the FA Cup 4th Round game v. Ipswich that January). Yet, just with everything in football, we mustn’t look at these raw facts for the whole story as, in doing so, we would be belittling the achievements of that Norwich side, and, somewhat more importantly, the achievements of that Rochdale side.

It is rare that Norwich are the ones who do the dream crushing (rather than the ones who are having their dreams crushed), however this was a Rochdale team who, despite finishing the season in the lower half of the 4th Division table, defeated Southampton and Blackburn Rovers (of the 2nd and 1st Divisions respectively). Somewhat remarkably, considering the lack of opportunities for black managers today, the Rochdale manager Tony Collins was mixed race – the first person from such a background to be a manager in a major English Cup Final. Collins has an extraordinary story. He played for Norwich from 1953-1955 and as such is almost certainly Norwich’s first black player and goalscorer. On top of a successful playing and managerial career, he became known for his ability to spot talent – working with Don Revie and Alex Fergerson – which earned him the nickname “Football’s Superspy”. His achievements were widely forgotten until his grandaughter helped pen his biography in 2016.

As Rochdale would never reach a cup final again, this is their “59ers” moment.

Barely any online record of the matches survive outside of the EDP’s and Rochdale Observer’s archives (the official Football League website barely pays it any interest), but there is badly digitised newsreel footage on YouTube of some action highlights (sans Hill’s goal) and the trophy being presented. The crowd, you may well notice while watching the video or looking at any photographs you happen upon, is clearly more than the official 19,800 (remember, never look at just the raw facts for the story of a football match).

To this day, Hill, Derrick Lythgoe and Bill Punton remain the only City players to have scored in a major cup final (the winner in the 1985 final was an own goal), so with this somewhat unlikely to change with the way football is going, this will remain a very rare record to have against one’s name indeed.


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