Yes Norwich look like they are going to be tricky at Carrow Road having had results against Chelsea , Liverpool and Newcastle and its hard not to have some affection for the great job that their manager Paul Lambert has done there and also gratitude for giving us Steve Bruce , and I know what you’re thinking , Norwich City – a footballing irrelevance stuck in Norfolk who play in those horrible green and yellow colours ( oops , no green and gold United protestors in the away end for this match) and have Delia Smith as their most famous fan and major shareholder. perhaps to a lesser extent Mickey Phelan9 ok , that’s enough faint praise). They have already almost secured their place in the Premier League with 35 points and will be difficult to beat, led by captain Grant Holt ( who looks like he’s had more than a few of Delia’s dinners.)
It’s important to me that as fellow United fans you don’t suffer from some kind of cultural amnesia when it comes to rivalries past. Back in 1974/75 season as we struggled against the odds in division 2 to reclaim our rightful place in the 1st division and Norwich City were , for one seasion, hated beyond even Liverpool and City.
The thought in the back of most United fans minds that season , was how on earth was the 1st Division perversely managing to continue without United. We’d been relegated mainly due to the fact we had no strikers at the club having allowed Brian Kidd to be sold, selling Ted MacDougall , and even Denis Law to go to Manchester City on a free transfer. In division 2 we had a young side that could play football with some decent players who didn’t deserve to be in that division, and we’d at last bought a cutting edge up front in the shape of Stuart Pearson from Hull City for £200,000, a natural goal scorer and poacher who would go on to play for England and at West Brom years later , mentor the young Cyrille Regis.
So United in division 2 seemed to sweep all before them, with the odd hard fought draw such as West Brom away. But then came our first defeat of the season , and it was at Carrow Road to Norwich City, who had the temerity to not only beat us 2-0 but have the goals scored by former United flop , Ted MacDougal. Now for all the murmers of disatisfaction I’ve heard about United’s bad buys over the years , Ted MacDougall at United was one of those players who scored , but just looked absolutely crap and never looked like he had the quality worthy of pulling on that red shirt. We’d bought Ted MacDougal for £195,000 on the back of two good seasons he’d had at Bournemouth in divisions 4 and 3 , in which he’d scored 42 and 35 goals respectively. He’d been bought by Frank O’Farrell and had scored 5 goals in 18 games at United , but just looked like a big strong Scottish lump up front and certainly not a United player. I suppose , quite unfairly , he was the only United player i can remember who was almost , from the off , for some inexplicable reason (apart from he didn’t look that good) universally and instantly disliked by the Old Trafford faithful and we’d put up with some really useless lumps at the time. I suppose the question to ask United fans at the time would be ‘ Why did you take an instant dislike to Ted macDougal?’ , although I suspect the answer would hve been , ‘It saves Time’.Tommy Docherty on taking over from Frank O’Farrell recognised this and soon sold poor unfortunate Teddy off to West ham United , who in turn sold him to Norwich City , who had just been relegated along with Manchester United to division 2.
Despite a blip around Christmas with our Scottish International centre half breaking his leg in a 4-4 thriller away at Sheffield Wednesday, United had an exciting season. In the League Cup we’d knocked out 3 top six sides from division one , Burnley , Middlesbrough and most importantly high flying Manchester City and we were in the semi finals over two legs against Norwich City.
The first leg of the semi-final was at Old Trafford on a wet windy January night, 58,000 drenched United fans spurred the team on as we laid siege to the Norwich goal, yet with our talismanic striker Stuart Pearson out injured again we were worried. The Norwich keeper Kevin Keelan was unbelievable that night and was definitely man of the match , although I have clear memories of both Lou macari and Willie Morgan missing absolute sitters with keelan totally stranded. The Stretford End were in full voice, chanting in Unison ‘We all F**king Hate Norwich’ with much of the pent up frustration aimed in the direction of former red Ted Macdougall, what a marvellous , and yet in some ways unfortunate, scapegoat he made.
In a one-sided game United completely dominated but without Pearson , like all the games he missed that season, we lacked that all important cutting edge. Norwich took thelead just on half time through Tony Powell. Brian Greenhoff was pushed into midfield and Lou Macari who was United’s outstanding player on the night , moved up front. Within six minutes of the second half kicking off Jim McCalliog sent in a corner , Keelan in the Norwich goal punched it out, only for Brian Greenhoff to put the ball back in where Lou Macari with his back to goal scored with an audacious and unstoppable overhead kick .Twenty minutes later the 5’6″ Macari proved again what a footballing giant he was in a red shirt. His back to the goal, he flicked the ball up a couple of times and then crashed in a low-angled drive from close range 2-1 United. The Stadium was rocking with United fans singing ‘Wem-ber-lee’ . It looked a dead cert , Norwich had hardly bothered to turn up. Then Macari slipped Willie Morgan through , but Willie decided to go for a penalty with what looked like a soft dive rather than try and score , but the referee wasn’t having any of it despite the howls of protest from the 58,000 zealots in the stands. One minute to go and Norwich equalize – ‘Ted MacDougall’. We are gutted we really hate Norwich.
The following week , still missing Stuart Pearson at Carrow road , and against the run of play , Norwich beat us 1-0 with a goal by Colin Suggett. They would go on to lose in an all second division final against Aston Villa, and both teams would follow United into the first division that season, a season in which we failed to beat Norwich City in any of the four games we played against them.
Its hard to look back on that time without feeling the disappointment all over again. United had lost 3 semi-finals in the league cup and had never won that trophy , which back then carried some kudos. It seemed as if ever since our European Cup triumph in 1968 we’d been dogged by semi-final failure, in 1969 it was a against AC Milan in the European Cup semi-final, a perfectly good goal by Denis Law which should have sent us into the final against Ajax on away goals counting double being disallowed for offside by what turned out to be a dodgy referee. Three replays in the FA cup Semi-final in 1970 against Leeds United , with again a perfectly good goal by Best given as offside and then losing 4-3 over two legs to Man City the following season in the league Cup semi-final ( which City went on to win against West Brom). Yes Norwich City were salt in the wounds and every time we play them I think of the irritating Ted MacDougall , the annoying little Phil Boyer and the man who managed man City to early 80s mediocrity John Bond as their Wurzel like manager. So this weekend , remember as reds , this isn’t just another game for United, this is a game against the team who were our hated nemesis for that one season in division 2 and as far as I’m concerned I feel an extra catthartic satisfaction every time we beat them.
WE SHOULD STILL HATE NORWICH