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An unbroken record set 63 years ago could be wrong

PUBLISHED: 18:01 25 March 2019 | UPDATED: 08:20 27 March 2019

Ralph Hunt

Ralph Hunt

Archant

He remains the record holder for the most goals scored in a season at Norwich City.

The commemorative plate that states Ralph Hunt scored 34 goals in the 1955/56. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodThe commemorative plate that states Ralph Hunt scored 34 goals in the 1955/56. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

But Ralph Hunt could have hit the net more times than the record books give him credit for.

Hunt played for the Canaries between 1955-58, and met his wife Janet when he moved to the city from the south coast.

Official records attribute 31 league goals and two cup goals to the six foot winger during the 1955-56 season.

But a ceremonial plate presented to him at the time is engraved with 34 goals.

It could make the target being chased by Teemu Pukki this season even harder to attain.

Hunt moved to Norfolk in 1955 after turning down an offer from Arsenal. He had proved himself in the youth set-up in Portsmouth, then Bournemouth.

Photographs from Ralph Hunt’s career in football. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodPhotographs from Ralph Hunt’s career in football. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

He would go on to play for nine clubs before his untimely death in a head-on collision in December 1964, aged 31.

He had joined Chesterfield that year and was returning from scouting cup opponents Peterborough with three team mates.

While in Norwich he had met his wife, Janet, who died earlier this year aged 83.

Daughter Sharon Hunt, 56, said her mother had been watching Norwich City play one day and saw the team bus drive past.

“She caught his eye and he winked at her,” she said. “They met in a pub later on by chance and arranged to meet.

“The West End Retreat was owned by my grandparents and that is where Mum lived when she met him. When he started going to the pub the regulars loved it.”

Ralph Hunt’s two daughters, Ashley Hunt-Vlietstra, left, holding one of Ralph’s hat-trick footballs and Sharon Hunt, right, holding the commemorative plate that states Ralph Hunt scored 34 goals in the 1955/56. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodRalph Hunt’s two daughters, Ashley Hunt-Vlietstra, left, holding one of Ralph’s hat-trick footballs and Sharon Hunt, right, holding the commemorative plate that states Ralph Hunt scored 34 goals in the 1955/56. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Even on their first date a young boy approached Ralph and asked for his autograph, Ms Hunt said.

“Mum and Dad got on really well, because they both liked sport and they were very competitive,” said Ms Hunt. “He would get so angry when she used to beat him at tennis.

“He used to like to go to the pub but he had to be careful about drinking. She said once they were down the pub and someone reported him anonymously.

“When we went to school around here everybody knew who he was and would say my dad used to watch your dad play.

“That is what we grew up with.”

Hunt had formed strong friendships in the squad of 1955/56, and Bobby Brennan was godfather to his daughter Ashley Hunt-Vlietstra, now 58.

The letter of congratulations Ralph Hunt received from Percy Varco after he broke his record of the amount of goals scored in a single season for Norwich City. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodThe letter of congratulations Ralph Hunt received from Percy Varco after he broke his record of the amount of goals scored in a single season for Norwich City. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

He married Janet at St Peter Mancroft Church on June 1, 1956 - a rare occasion only made possible through connections formed playing cricket.

“Very often we would run into people who knew him. The dashing winger with blonde curly hair, they used to call him,” said Mrs Hunt-Vlietstra.

“When he was playing people would shout at him from the crowd ‘you can do better than that’, but what they wouldn’t know is sometimes he would be playing with broken ribs, but he still had to perform on the day.

“They would just bandage him up tight and send him out.”

The family have kept memorabilia from Hunt’s playing days, including a letter sent to him from the man whose goal-scoring record he beat.

It had previously been held by Percy Varco with 32 goals in league and cup.

The letter read: “I note with interest you beat the club goal record held by me since 1927-28. I would like to congratulate you and wish you even better shooting next season. Perhaps I may have the pleasure of meeting you.”

His daughters don’t know if that meeting took place, and said: “We may never know”.

Before his life was cut short, Hunt had been considering a future of football coaching in Norwich.

“He was thinking about going on to coaching or managing at the end of his career,” said Ms Hunt. “Football was all he had ever done, he never had any other job.

“When he had the accident most people would have been killed outright but because his heart was so strong and he was so fit the doctors gave him a 50/50 chance.

“He really enjoyed living in Norwich and playing in that 1955/56 team. They were going to come back here and live together when his career was finished.

“We did end up coming back and growing up here, but unfortunately without him.”

Janet Hunt returned to Norwich when she was widowed and went to teacher training college. She taught as a sports teacher at Angel Road Middle School for many years, and passed away earlier this year.

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