Norwich City know what it takes to succeed in English second tier
PUBLISHED: 11:07 04 August 2016 | UPDATED: 11:07 04 August 2016
With the disappointment of top-flight relegation now firmly in the past, Norwich City supporters are preparing themselves for a battle they know all too well.
The second tier of English football is a standard of football that the Canaries have experienced more than any other. When the action gets under way at Ewood Park on Saturday, City will begin their 36th season at that level.
With a squad already packed with Championship experience as well, all connected with the club will be well aware that hard work and thick skins will be needed just as much as flair and quality in the next nine months.
In the last 55 seasons the Canaries have spent a large chunk of their time in the second tier, dropping into the third just once but also dining at English football’s top table for 25 of those campaigns.
The club’s first foray into the second tier was enjoyed before the second world war, after the first major trophy in City’s history was won in 1934, as champions of Division Three South.
That status was maintained for five campaigns, finishing 11th in 1936 but eventually slipping to relegation in 1939 – ahead of the Football League’s abandonment due to the outbreak of war.
This sees three pre-war players still prominent in City’s all-time top scorers and top appearance makers in the second tier.
Jack Vinall sits fifth in that list of league goal scorers, with 51 in Division Two before he left for Luton Town in October 1937.
Frank Manders was a young inside forward signed from Crystal Palace who also played in those early years, scoring 40 goals in Division Two.
It is the recognisable gap-toothed smile of Iwan Roberts which leads the way though, playing all of his football for the Canaries in the second flight, scoring 84 goals in 264 league games between 1997 and 2004.
The Welshman tops the goal-scoring charts with those efforts – Johnny Gavin leads the way overall in competitive games with 132 – ahead of Terry Allcock’s 68 at that level, out of his total of 127.
Legendary keeper Kevin Keelan perhaps unsurprisingly tops the second tier appearances list, with 333 of his huge total tally of 673 competitive appearances.
After relegation in 1939 and the outbreak of war the Canaries did not return to Division Two until 1960. There have been plenty of memorable seasons ever since though.
Twelve seasons in the second tier followed, before the club’s first ever promotion to Division One in 1972, as champions.
Relegation in 1974 was immediately remedied and Norwich spent 18 of the next 20 seasons in the top flight, bouncing back at the first time of asking twice, including winning the Division Two title in 1986.
Relegation in 1995 sparked another nine-season spell outside of the top tier, before Darren Huckerby inspired Nigel Worthington’s squad of 2003/04 to the Division One title.
Further fallow years were endured but Paul Lambert’s squad of 2011 roared to automatic promotion and Alex Neil sparked a successful play-off campaign in 2015.
Throughout those ups and downs many lasting memories and great careers have been forged – what will the second tier hold in store this time, from Blackburn and beyond?