|City Floored by Brilliant Viljoen|
Written by clivebleedingthomas on Monday, 23rd Mar 2020 10:00
My father, Owen Sturley Nunn, known as 'Bob' to his many friends at Portman Road, kept an archive of newspaper reports of notable Town matches. I inherited the archive upon his death in 1987 and continued to keep reports of noteworthy games.
My pen name is owed to Dad. He loathed 'Mr Thomas of Treorchy' as programmes referred to this infamous referee. This loathing, shared by many Town fans, stemmed from the way he denied our beloved Ipswich Town a place in the 1975 Cup final. Henceforth in our household he was always referred to as “clivebleedingthomas”.
During the coming weeks, months even, I aim to bring some cheer to fellow Town fans with memories that will truly represent the ethos of TWTD. Enjoy!
Saturday 3rd February 1968 Norwich City 3 Ipswich Town 4
This match shines in my memory as the outstanding East Anglian derby. I was a student in my final year of study, based in Norwich.
Fortunately, after three seasons of mediocrity in the old Division Two, I could hold my head up at last and boast we were genuine promotion contenders. This match underlined that fact and proved a springboard for our eventual elevation to Division One.
I stood in the Barclay End in a crowd of 30,022 surrounded by people wearing yellow and green and blue and white. There was plenty of banter, loads of insults, but never a need for segregation. You could wear your colours and show your emotions without fear of reprisal.
Things didn’t start well. After four minutes Eddie Spearritt appeared to score with a great drive from 30 yards only to see it disallowed because a Town player was standing in an offside position.
“Interfering with play”? I don’t think so. When the second Norwich goal went in just two minutes after their 26th minute opener the gambler in me would not have been confident of a reversal of fortune.
However, Colin Viljoen pulled a goal back four minutes prior to half-time. Before Town fans’ celebrations had died down Bobby Hunt seemed to have equalised only for a second Town goal to be ruled out - even I agreed a defender was pushed.
The second half began at great pace with Frank Brogan winning a corner at the River End followed by Ken Hancock saving from City striker Manning.
Frank Brogan was on the Town left wing, he had not played during the previous four weeks. At his best he was a very direct-running winger who caused defenders many problems. Fully recovered from injury, he proceeded to torment the Canaries defence and was brought down 35 yards from goal.
Full-back Billy Houghton sent a low drive past Norwich goalie Kevin Keelan, who seemed to have been distracted by the movement of Town forward Bobby Hunt, who was standing in front of him - not offside this time
Town were now playing as well as they had done since their early season form had evaporated in mid November, showing great attacking intent for an away team.
So, 50 minutes played and it’s two-all, the ball having been in the net six times. A youthful Mick Mills had been drafted in for the 31st of his 588 league appearances for Town. He came close to putting Town in front in the 58th minute, and immediately afterwards Colin Viljoen had an effort scooped off the line after he had first hit a post.
Two more saves from Town keeper Hancock kept the score level before Viljoen scored a glorious goal that involved sidestepping two defenders and sliding the ball past the advancing Keelan.
The South African’s hat-trick was completed in the 67th minute when he intercepted a weak back pass before lobbing the keeper.
Any thoughts Town fans may have had of cruising to victory were rudely interrupted 12 minutes from time when the gap narrowed to 3-4.
More chances came Town’s way with Brogan failing to score with just the keeper to beat and then veteran striker Ray Crawford had an opportunity that he could not put away.
The excitement was not over with Hancock having to make a full-length save with just two minutes left.
At the final whistle, the whole crowd stood and applauded the players who had contributed to an outstanding game of football. The road outside the main stand of the stadium was filled with people and chatter from everybody as we walked together, jam-packed at a snail’s pace towards Carrow Bridge.
It had certainly been a winter’s afternoon to warm us all, regardless of our allegiance. To this day I can remember a City fan turning to me and stating “that was a credit to East Anglian football”.
Town team: Hancock, Houghton, Mills, Spearritt, Baxter, McNeil, Barnard, Hunt, Crawford, Viljoen, Brogan.
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