David 'Spud' Thornhill takes you through a potted history of Norwich's encounters with Brum to get you in the mood for Saturday. And yep, we need to talk about Cardiff.
Another affair that blossomed late, Norwich first met Birmingham City in a League Cup tie in September 1963. Despite the Blues being the reigning League Cup winners and in the First Division, it was the second tier’s Canaries who triumphed, 2-0. Giant killers.
Two years later following relegation, Birmingham would join us in the old Division Two, leaving both teams in the same league for the first time. Having waited so long, the clubs appeared to like playing each other and Norwich v Birmingham became a regular fixture for the next 9 years, including a joint promotion to Division One in 1972. We won the title, despite Birmingham trouncing us 4-0 in March 1972. The result provoked Norwich manager Ron Saunders to publicly question if his team really wanted it. The tough love man management style worked and the side kicked on, clinching both promotion and taking the title for good measure.
April 1970 was the pinnacle of these liaisons as far as Norwich were concerned, as we recorded our biggest victory over the Blues, thumping them 6-0. We wouldn’t record another 6-0 league win over anyone for another 41 years, when Simeon Jackson and Grant Holt would both grab hat-tricks vs Scunthorpe.
April 1974 was the pinnacle of these liaisons as far as Birmingham were concerned, as relegated Norwich travelled to St Andrew’s with the Blues needing to win to avoid joining us in the second tier. In hospitable mood, we let them roll us over 2-1. Ian Davies made his Canary debut that day at the tender age of 17 years and 29 days. He would be the youngest person to represent Norwich until Ryan Jarvis broke the record in April 2003.
Which would you trust more, a referee’s own watch or the scoreboard clock? That’s right. The scoreboard. On 4 September 1976, referee Ken Salmon blew his whistle to signal the end of that season’s Carrow Road meeting, with Norwich 1-0 up. Undaunted by the audacity of what they were suggesting, the Birmingham players pointed out there was still two minutes left on the stadium clock. Referee Salmon leapt into action, got both teams back on the pitch and insisted they play on. Decency and/or justice prevailed and Norwich held on.
In January 1985, before the days of “fixture congestion” and managers meekly suggesting “we didn’t want another game”, conveniently forgetting they had said pre-game they wanted to win, which would of course necessitate another game, it took First Division Norwich four attempts to knock out Second Division Birmingham in the FA Cup. Before extra-time and penalties, draws meant replays, lots and lots of replays. On this occasion, Norwich needed three bites at the cherry before finally dispatching Birmingham 1-0 through a Steve Bruce goal. 7 days later we were knocked out by West Ham.
Having met repeatedly for weeks, the two Citys decided to have a decade long break from seeing each other and wouldn’t renew acquaintances until 1995. Newly relegated Norwich travelled to Barry Fry's Birmingham and lost 3-1, with Blues striker Jonathan Hunt nabbing a hat trick. Hunt’s performance prompted the keen eyed Fry to slap a £27million tag on the youngster. 2 years later Hunt was sold for £500,000 to Derby before fading into non-league football via a brief 2 game, 0 goals spell on loan at Ipswich.
The days of “Sold Out” signs appearing at Carrow Road seemed a long, long way off in March 1998, when we had our lowest league crowd for 26 years. Only 9,819 turned up. Those who stayed away appeared to have made the right decision as Birmingham led 2-0 at half time. The second 45 was a classic however as Norwich turned it round in the second half and led 3-2 until a late Peter Ndlovu back heel 2 minutes from time made it 3-3.
In March 2002, Birmingham left Norwich with a 1-0 win tucked under their arm. The result left the hosts 10th and our play off hopes in tatters. 5 wins and 2 draws in our last 7 league games followed and we sneaked into the top 6 on the final day. The semi-finals saw Birmingham overcome Millwall, while we memorably prompted ‘that banner’ in eliminating Wolves. The clubs would meet in the Play Off Final at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. But in a classic of the #AlongComeNorwich genre we lost on penalties following a 1-1 draw, becoming the first team to lose having used the North changing room.
In May 2005, the club’s met in the penultimate Premier League game of the season. We beat them 1-0 at Carrow Road thanks to a Dean Ashton penalty. The 3 points lifted us out of the relegation zone and only needing to beat Fulham on the final day to survive. We all know how that ended.
After 64 meetings, Birmingham have 22 wins to Norwich's 20, with 22 draws.