May 22 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Canaries Hall of Famer Kevin Drinkell has lifted the lid on his last desperate weeks at Carrow Road – and accused former chairman Robert Chase of being greedy and treating him like a piece of meat.
The revelations come in Drinkell’s autobiography, published this week.
The ex-striker, who won consecutive Player of the Year awards at Norwich in the mid-1980s, describes how he turned down a move to Manchester United because of his trust in then manager Ken Brown and his enduring love for Norwich City.
But the battle with Chase over his departure in the summer of 1988 clearly rankles still with Drinkell, now 50 years old and working as an agent in Scotland for 110sport Management.
Drinkell, bought from Grimsby in June, 1985 for a tribunal-fixed fee of £105,000, turned down a move to Old Trafford two years later but was shocked when Brown’s successor, Dave Stringer, told him the club were considering a £500,000 offer from Spurs boss Terry Venables.
“That totally broke my trust and faith in the club and, in particular, chairman Robert Chase,” he says. “I looked to be the latest big name Chase wanted to cash in on. I felt I could no longer play for a man like Chase. He should have shown more loyalty to Ken after the job he had done and now here he was trying to push his top scorer out of the door. The way he treated me still angers me.
“If he had come to me and said he needed the money then I would have shook his hand and said fair enough, but he didn’t even have the bottle to come and tell me to my face. I knew the end was near and it was a case of where rather than when.”
Brown ended up as the go-between with Venables and Norwich, but Drinkell claims the move to White Hart Lane fell through because of Chase’s greed.
“He felt Spurs had been too quick to agree a deal. He thought he had undervalued me and feared he would face a backlash from the fans unless he got top dollar. Chase then had the cheek to go back to Spurs and demand £600,000,” says Drinkell.
Spurs matched the fee – but Chase then asked for £750,000. Drinkell says: “Their chairman, Irving Scholar, refused to be held to ransom and told Chase to forget it and he would never do business with him again. That left me raging because Chase had said he wanted to sell me, and then when a club had matched his valuation, twice, he tried to extract even more. But this time I felt like a piece of meat that was going to be sold to the highest bidder – regardless of where I wanted to go.
“Chase had broken my trust and just used me.
“I was so annoyed the Tottenham deal had been pulled and I was being forced to return to play for Norwich. They were still paying my wages so I was obliged to go out and give it my best for the fans – if not for the chairman.
“There were a few bids but nobody could match Norwich’s escalating value. I made it clear to the club I wanted to go and there was no turning back. I went to see Chase and he had the cheek to tell me: “If we don’t get the money we want then you will just need to get your head down and get on with it.”
“I told him to forget it. Too much had happened for me just to say ‘okay I will stay’.”
Drinkell heaps praise on Brown for his man management skills and admits to pangs of guilt over his missed penalty in a 2-0 defeat at Charlton in November, 1987, which proved to be his last game in charge.
“We couldn’t believe it. Surely after everything he had done for the club he had deserved more loyalty. There was a lot of anger among the senior pros when Ken told us what had happened. Ken had been the reason why many of us had come to Norwich and the board had dropped him like a stone when the going had got tough.
“Ken was the main reason why I had turned down Manchester united. If I had known Ken was going to be sacked then I would have gone to Old Trafford.”
The reason he didn’t go to United was simple: “That first season Ferguson had replaced Ron Atkinson they finished 11th in the top flight. Norwich had just finished fifth in the league, six places above United and I honestly felt, weighing everything up, we had a much better team than United at that time. I was also settled at Norwich and the club had improved my contract so I didn’t really feel the urge or need to jump ship.
“I didn’t even have to think twice about it because I loved working under Ken and felt we could go on to achieve even more under him. Loyalty was also a big thing for me.”
Drinkell eventually joined Glasgow Rangers and went on to play for Coventry City, Birmingham on loan, Falkirk and Stirling – but the love for Norwich hasn’t diminished.
“I still get a good reception when I return to Norwich and they are still a club who I hold close to my heart. That was why I was humbled to be inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame in 2002. It is a great honour to be named among some of the club’s greatest ever players. I had some of my best career moments at Carrow Road and it is a period of my life, apart from the last few months, I will remember with great fondness.”
• Drinks All Round is published by Black & White Publishing, and costs £14.99. Drinkell will be signing copies at Waterstone’s in Norwich at 1pm on Saturday, November 27.