City in the top flight: Goodbye Bond, hello relegation

john saintly, ken brown, john bond

John Bond, right, left Norwich for Manchester City and took John Sainty, left, with him - leaving Ken Brown behind at Carrow Road - Credit: Archant

It was a season of upheaval as managers and players came and went - CHRIS LAKEY looks at 1980-81 in the latest in our series on Norwich City's top-flight seasons

Manager (s) 

John Bond/Ken Brown 

Bond departed in October 1980, tempted – like Ron Saunders, the man he succeeded at Carrow Road – by Manchester City, where he replaced Malcolm Allison. He took his assistants, John Benson and John Sainty with him. Long-time assistant and friend Ken Brown took over... but Bond later said it was a mistake on his part, especially as it damaged, for a while at least, his relationship with Brown and then chairman Sir Arthur South. He explained: "Sir Arthur had told me I had seven and a half years of a contract to run and as soon as I stopped managing I could become general manager and when I wanted to finish I could become a director of the club. Basically I had a job for life. But in my wisdom I went to Manchester City because I thought it was bigger. It was a brilliant club to be involved with. I had some wonderful players and Sir Arthur made it a real family football club.” Brown has more Norwich City games – 367 - under his managerial belt than anyone. He had a similar number working with Bond, but when his long-time friend left for Manchester City he didn’t want Brown. “It was hard to take — I can’t pretend otherwise,” Brown said later. 

Final position: 20th 

Bond’s last game was a draw with Wolves – also Duncan Forbes’ last game. 

It was to be a tough start to Brown’s managerial career, with City relegated. Brown was without the experience of Martin Peters, who had long left to take over as Sheffield United player-manager. 

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Brown was assisted by Mel Machin, Dave Stringer returned from Cambridge to become youth team coach and Doug Livermore took over the reserves. Ins and outs were frequent throughout the season - Kevin Bond and Tony Powell departed, Dave Watson and Martin O’Neill came in. City lost 6-0 in the FA Cup – to Bond’s Manchester City. Goalkeeper Chris Woods (loan) and defender Steve Walford arrived. The final game of the season was a nail-biter but City couldn’t escape the trap-door – they lost 3-2 at home to already relegated Leicester City, while all around them won. 

Joe Royle and Geoffrey Watling at Carrow Road, Norwich, May 2 1981. Norwich played Leicester on this

Joe Royle receives the player of the season trophy from Geoffrey Watling before the game against Leicester - the day City were relegated - Credit: Archant

Player of the Season 

Joe Royle 

This was the veteran striker’s only full season at Carrow Road – he was forced to retire in 1982 at the age of 33 due to a knee injury.  

ncfc v man utd 6 dec 1980

Justin Fashanu is denied by Gary Bailey during City's home game against Manchester United in December, 1980 - it ended 2-2 - Credit: Archant

Top scorer 

Justin Fashanu (19) 

Not a bad tally for a player in a relegated team. Only Joe Royle with nine came close. It was to be the final contribution from Fashanu - he’d been linked throughout the season with other clubs and the following August he joined Nottingham Forest for £1m - not the best move he could have made. 

NCFC V Ipswich (1-0) on Monday 20th April 1981. Photo: Archant Library

Norwich City players enjoy a 1-0 derby day win over Ipswich in April 1981 - Credit: Archant Library

High point 

Probably the opening when City beat Stoke 5-1 - thanks in large part to a Justin Fashanu hat-trick. 

Low point 

Relegation, clearly - Jim Melrose’s hat-trick consigned City to the drop. Leicester were already down. Goals from Mick McGuire and Justin Fashanu had brought City back from two down, but it was all academic as Sunderland had pulled off a shock win at Liverpool so even a City win would not have helped. 


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