December 11 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Former Norwich City physio Tim Sheppard got a touchline view of one of the club’s greatest triumphs. Here he talks to reporter David Freezer about his memories of the epic night in Munich’s Olympic Stadium
It’s half-time at the Olympic Stadium on the evening of October 20, 1993 and, although they don’t yet know it, Norwich City’s players are on the brink of the most famous victory in the club’s history.
As the 20th anniversary of that incredible 2-1 win against Bayern Munich closes in, Canaries supporters the world over can only dream of the atmosphere in the away dressing room during that interval.
But one man who was able to enjoy that privileged position was former club physiotherapist Tim Sheppard.
“The atmosphere at half-time was a happy calm because we knew what we had achieved and we knew we had to replicate that again and raise our game again, and we did,” recalls the man in charge of the magic sponge at Carrow Road between 1980 and 2001.
One record that no team can ever take away from Norwich City is that they were the only British team to beat Bayern Munich at the Olympic Stadium.
City’s 2-1 win in Munich 20 years ago was the first, and last, time that a British club beat Bayern at their former home stadium.
Another 10 unsuccessful attempts were made by British clubs until Bayern moved into the Allianz Arena for the start of the 2005/06 season.
Since then, two English teams have beaten the current European champions on their own turf.
Chelsea spoiled the party at the Allianz Arena in the 2012 Champions League final, beating Bayern 4-3 on penalties following a 1-1 draw.
Then last season Arsenal beat Bayern 2-0 at the Allianz in the last-16 round of the Champions League, although lost the knockout tie 3-2 on aggregate.
At that point in the match City were 2-1 ahead, having gone 2-0 up through a spectacular Jeremy Goss volley in the 12th minute and a looping header from left-back Mark Bowen in the 29th minute.
However, the underdogs were pegged back five minutes before the break when Christian Nerlinger scored for German giants Bayern.
The boys in yellow knew that a famous victory was in touching distance.
“Sometimes you don’t want half-time to come,” Mr Sheppard continued. “You just want to keep playing and the euphoria of the occasion and the way the game was going, we just wanted to keep playing for 90 minutes.
“And we knew that Munich were going to re-group because they thought ‘hang on, we’ve got a game on here’, and the fans were rejoicing in it and loving every minute of it, but I think the players would have preferred to stay out because it interrupted the way we were playing. Then, of course, they came out and their pride was rather hurt and they stepped it up a bit but we withstood that. It really was a fantastic night.”
That night, and all of City’s only European adventure, will always hold special memories for the inaugural Norwich City Hall of Fame member.
But Mr Sheppard also ended up having to sit out the second leg of the second round, when City drew 1-1 with Bayern at Carrow Road to secure their giant-killing 3-2 aggregate win. He explained: “The quirky thing, and ridiculous thing is that after that match in Germany I got a one-match ban.
“I ended up going on the pitch and Ruel Fox, who was on the other side of the pitch to me, had an injury.
“So I had gone across to check something and then I had crouched down (on the opposite side of the pitch to the team dugouts) because if he went down again or there was a problem with him again very soon after, what was the point of my going all the way round the pitch?
“So I crouched down there, which was never a problem in English football, but this linesman drew the attention to the referee that I was still crouching there and should have been on the bench.
“Nothing was said during the game other than go and sit back down.
“Then we got a letter at Carrow Road the week after saying that I had contravened this time thing within the game and that I would be subjected to a one-match ban for the return leg.
“So I wasn’t to be in the dressing room for an hour before or after the game. When you look at what a player could get a ban for in the match, for an indiscretion or foul play, you think, ‘yeah, you deserve a one-match ban’, but how pathetic was that? It was just bizarre.”
Mr Sheppard, who still works as a physiotherapist at Global Clinic Norwich, in Colney, then had to watch the Carrow Road match from the directors’ box after an unsuccessful appeal.
He added: “It was very frustrating but I had a very able assistant who was my right-hand man at the time, Keith Creamer, which was a silver lining really because that really became one of Keith’s highlights of his career of helping me at the football club.
“Thankfully there were no serious injuries but he went on the pitch and he just thought it was one of the best football experiences of his life, and as that helped him, I was happy for him.
“But it was odd watching the game from the box rather than from the side of the pitch, so I wasn’t quite in the emotions as much, but I still was.”
Mr Sheppard stepped down from his role in June 2001 because of personal reasons and his service to the club was saluted with a testimonial match against Scottish side Celtic, with over 15,000 people attending the match at Carrow Road.
He admitted he found it hard to attend Canaries matches in the years after his retirement but now enjoys watching the club’s games again, recently attending the 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa as a guest of joint majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones.
Mr Sheppard added: “I think the thing that stood out most about the European run was the attitude of the public of Norwich and Norfolk, who really embraced it.
“I was lucky enough to be involved with Milk Cup final of 1985 but those sort of emotions and realising how much it meant to people here meant the European run was a whole different ball game.”