Big night when Norwich City sealed the double
- Credit: Archant
A Norwich City team picture with two trophies on show is something of a collector's item – but it exists thanks to the achievements of their rising stars of 30 years ago.
The Canaries' youth team of 1982-83 completed a memorable double when they won the South East Counties League and FA Youth Cup under the guidance of coach Dave Stringer.
Stringer's team went through their 28-match league programme unbeaten to give the club its second South East Counties title – the first was in 1980.
But it was the drama of their FA Youth Cup final success over three matches against Everton, played out in front of crowds totalling nearly 47,000, that made most of the headlines.
With each club winning their home leg of the final 3-2 – City surviving in the second match at Goodison Park thanks to wounded hero goalkeeper Andrew Pearce's extra-time penalty save from Mark Farrington – it went to a third game, Everton winning the toss for home advantage.
And it was a goal from Dunstable-born Paul Clayton, one of 32 he scored that season, that clinched the trophy for City.
The player who supplied the cross for Clayton's winning header was Neil Riley, now 48, and still with vivid memories of the big night.
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'The two legs of the final were very exciting games because we won 3-2 at home and lost 3-2 away after extra time,' he said.
'Everton were a very good side and I remember that I was up against Ian Bishop, who went on to play for Manchester City and West Ham.
'We played on some big grounds that season and there were more than 20,000 at the replay at Everton. The noise was incredible but I don't think any of us were fazed by it.
'The third game was much tighter because it was more of a sudden-death situation and we didn't get as many chances.'
The goal came after 52 minutes, as left-sided midfielder Riley recalled: 'I got it just inside our half on the left-hand side and went past one player and pushed forward to the 18-yard box and knew if I got a cross in that Clayton or Jon Rigby would be on the end of it. Clayton headed it downwards and I believe it may even have bounced over the goalkeeper and went in.
'From halfway through the second half it was like the Alamo. Everton threw everything at us but we held on and I remember at the end that I ran up to Dave Stringer and just jumped on him.
'Dave comes across as a quiet guy but he's very, very passionate and he knew how to motivate his team. He was a good coach who knew how to push certain players' buttons, and we were good at motivating each other. We would go out on the pitch and look at the opposition and think 'We're better than you and we're not going to get beaten'.'
City played 11 matches, toppling Arsenal, Aston Villa and Manchester United, before lifting the trophy – special memories for Riley, who now works for Dalziel Ltd as a European meat trader.
He said: 'We beat Villa 5-2 in one round and then Watford and I remember being at the snooker centre with my team-mate, Daryl Godbold, when he went on the payphone and phoned the club to find out who we had in the quarter-final.
'When he came back and said Manchester United away I thought he was winding me up.
'But we went to Old Trafford and won. It was a good, tight game and Louie Donowa managed to score the winner. Clayton Blackmore was in the United side and Norman Whiteside was eligible, but he didn't play in the end because Ron Atkinson wanted him for a first team game.'
It was a season when City's youngsters played 44 games in all competitions, losing only three – the second leg of the final against Everton, a South East Counties League Cup tie against Queens Park Rangers and a Southern Junior Floodlit Cup tie against Southend.
'We had an extraordinary record. We didn't feel we had any stars but we were strong in all departments,' said Riley.
'I would say Clayton and Rigby were pivotal to our success. Clayton was a fantastic player, a joy to play with as a midfield player. He'd hold it up all day and he knew where the goal was. Clayton and Rigby were a big part of our success.'
Riley later played for Lowestoft before a knee injury ended his career, while youngest son Ben is in the Norfolk Under-14 squad.
As today's academy side prepare for tonight's quarter-final at Everton, he believes the double winners' achievements are worthy of a more prominent place in City's history.
'One thing surprised me when I took my lads down for one of the open days at Carrow Road. There was no reference to it, not even a plaque in the trophy cabinet,' he said. 'After all, it's one of only three occasions when Norwich have won a national cup competition.'
• CANARIES' ROUTE TO 1982-83 FA YOUTH CUP TRIUMPH
First round: City 6, Southend 0.
Second round: Arsenal 2, City 2.
Second round replay: City 4, Arsenal 2.
Third round: City 5, Aston Villa 2.
Fourth round: City 3, Watford 1.
Quarter-final: Manchester United 0, City 1.
Semi-final, first leg: Luton 1, City 3. Second leg: City 0, Luton 0 (City won 3-1 on agg).
Final, first leg – Monday, April 25, 1983 (Carrow Road):
City 3, Everton 2.
City – Pearce, Godbold, Spearing, Crowe, McIntyre, Goss, Donowa, Rigby, Clayton, Metcalf, Riley (O'Connor).
Goals – City: Crowe, Rigby, Goss. Everton: Farrington 2.
Att – 10,559.
Final, second leg – Thursday, May 5, 1983 (Goodison Park):
Everton 3, City 2 (aet, score 2-1 at 90 min, agg score 5-5).
City – Pearce, Godbold, Spearing, Crowe, McIntyre, Goss, Donowa, Rigby, Clayton, Metcalf (O'Connor), Riley.
Goals – Everton: Marshall, Farrington 2 (1 pen). City: Clayton, Rigby.
Att – 15,540.
Final replay – Monday, May 9, 1983 (Goodison Park):
Everton 0, City 1
City – Pearce, Godbold, Spearing, Crowe, McIntyre, Goss, Donowa, Rigby, Clayton, O'Connor, Riley. Sub: Metcalf.
Goal – City: Clayton.
Att – 20,652.