City head to the Steel City for the biggest game of the season so far (sorry Ipswich, you just don't matter that much any more). David 'Spud' Thornhill sets the scene for a win or bust day up north.
Saturday brings the biggest game of the season so far (sorry Ipswich, you just don’t matter that much anymore despite your amusingly incorrect claim to have once been “Champions of Europe”) as Norwich travel to Sheffield Wednesday. Win and our season is very much still alive. Lose and flip flop shops around Colney can throw open their doors.
Recently, City have not enjoyed their trips to Hillsborough, having not won their since 2001 and only winning only 1 of our last 12 visits, including 8 defeats in a row.
The first meeting came all the way back on 11th January 1908, when non-league Norwich hosted FA Cup holders and First Division Sheffield Wednesday at Newmarket Road. A big crowd was expected and two temporary stands were erected allowing as many people as possible to glimpse our illustrious visitors. Foretelling the crowds that a Christmas Tree sale day at Notcutts in a century’s time would bring, 10,360, packed in and were rewarded with a famous 2-0 home win. The club claimed afterwards their canny use of rubber soles on a frozen pitch was the difference. It was the last ever FA Cup tie to grace Newmarket Road.
27 years would pass before the famous, shiny FA Cup draw balls would pair the side together again. Again City were at home, although by now this had moved north of the river to The Nest. Sheffield Wednesday appeared to prefer the new surroundings and won 1-0 in front of the Nest’s record crowd of 25,037. Sadly this was to be the beginning of the end for our uniquely walled in home as FA officials at the game had major (and probably completely fair) concerns over the unique ground, forcing us to move out. That summer, in just a couple of months, Carrow Road was built and we’ve been there ever since.
Safely settled into our new home City met Wednesday in the league for the first time two years later, where a year on the Owls would inflict our joint heaviest league defeat thumping us 7-0 at Hillsborough.
We clearly weren’t very good back then and following our relegation back to Division Three South in 1939, the clubs would not meet in the league again till 1970.
There was one FA Cup tie among those 31 years, coming in 1967. Following our elimination of Manchester United in Round 4, we welcomed both Sheffield Wednesday and for the first time, the Match of the Day cameras to Carrow Road. Our tradition of being not very good on television began and First Division Wednesday won 3-1.
When the Owls beat us 3-2 at the beginning of February 1982, it left us 11th and looking unlikely for promotion back to top flight. Undaunted City would respond by winning 14 out of the next 18 including 10 in the last 11 games, meaning we travelled to Hillsborough on the last day of season in the third and final promotion spot, knowing a point would be enough to clinch promotion. 10,000 Norwich fans descended on Sheffield with great expectations. A tight game exploded into life late on as Keith Bertschin snaffled an 86th minute equaliser, sparking mass celebrations in the away end. As City fans lost themselves in frenzied 'Going Up' chants, Sheffield Wednesday went down the other end and retook the lead within a minute. Bit rude. Getting in to the end of season swing of things, a Sheffield Wednesday fan had ran onto the pitch in the build-up to Gary Bannister’s winner and can be seen about to launch himself into a diving header, had Bannister had the good grace to let him. Very rude. City’s 2-1 defeat meant Leicester could go up if they beat Shrewsbury Town. Back in those mythical times before mobile phones, pocket radios were out in the away end and Chinese whispers of Leicester winning or drawing spread like wildfire around the away end. Finally it was confirmed. Leicester hadn’t won and City were up. The celebrations began again.
Ironically, especially for the hosts that day, this was the first season with 3 points for a win. Had it still been 2 points for a victory, it wouldn't been Norwich City celebrating promotion but Sheffield Wednesday, who instead finished 4th. That must have been annoying.
In August 1989, Norwich City fans were the first set of fans allowed back into the Leppings Lane following the Hillsborough Disaster that killed 96 Liverpool fans four months earlier. Dave Philips a summer signing scored two minutes into his Canary career as Norwich won 2-0.
City wouldn’t win there again until Christmas 2001, when we recorded their biggest ever win over the Owls, thumping them 5-0. Goals from David Neilsen (2), Darren Kenton, Paul McVeigh and a stunning strike from Gary Holt capped a memorable day in South Yorkshire.
Annoyingly we used up all our goals in one visit as between 2003-2015, we would fail to beat them in 10 attempts, including those 8 consecutive defeats. A Norwich club record.
One of those defeats was a 4-1 final day shellacking that marked the end of two Canary legends and titans of English football; Dion Dublin and Darren Huckerby. While it was known Dion was retiring allowing City fans to show their appreciation, it was not until two days after the game that then manager Glenn Roeder informed Hucks he wouldn't be receiving a new contract, denying the man a proper send off.