Tony Norman: The immovable goalie

My time watching Hull City began during an era when we were genuinely rubbish in the main.

When I first started going as a 10 year old kid the KCOM years weren’t even a dream. I’d occasionally go as an uninterested kid with my grandad before 1979 mainly because he wouldn’t leave me and our kid home alone because we used to knock seven bells of shit out of each other at any given chance.

I got the ‘bug’ in the summer of 1980 mainly because the rugby season had finished and City’s ground backed onto my grandad’s house and in them days us kids could go and watch the lads train and invariably join in. Manager Mike Smith would encourage us kids to take turns at shooting at Tony Norman while he dived about in a sand pit, God knows how he thought a scrawny ginger kid and his shitty little brother could ready an international goalie for the rigours of Division Three still baffles me even now but it was the stuff a kids dreams are made of.

We didn’t know at the time that Tony, who was a genuinely nice fella and had time for us all, would go onto to be the goalie he became. Consecutive appearance record holder for City playing in 226 straight games, an international keeper five times for the Welsh (he would’ve of got many more caps if Southall wasn’t the Welsh mainstay).

He wasn’t the biggest keeper ever and he looked like he needed a good dinner but boy what a keeper he was, brave to the extent he was a danger to himself and in the obscurity of the lower reaches of the football league he pulled off some ‘worldie’ saves that would only ever be witnessed by the hardy souls in attendance, due to the fact the only game we ever saw on telly back then was the FA Cup final or MOTD highlights of Division One which was still nearly 30 years away for us City fans.

We had some success with Tony in goal, if you can call promotion to the second tier of football and an appearance in the first ever Associate Members Cup success but I think we all knew he was a ‘bit’ too good for us and looking back I for one thought he’d have gone a lot longer then he did. Sold to Sunderland for a club record because we was skint (AGAIN) Tony got to the top flight a lot quicker then we did and played in a FA Cup final a lot quicker then we did, in fact he played there twice for Sunderland. His stay in the top flight only lasted a season though.

In those days were cup runs were virtually non existent as we nearly always got knocked out in the first round and squad rotation was a lads trip to Hull Fair on the waltzers, Tony’s back up was another Welshman John Davies who hardly ever got a game and in this day and age would’ve been knocking the gaffers door down demanding a move, but not John he turned up week in week out and gave his all for the club and played to the best of his ability once every Sheffield flood.

A couple of years after Tony left the club we managed to bag another international keeper, who fancied himself as a number nine as well. Alan Fettis will probably be more fondly remembered for the TWO goals he scored coming on as a sub against Oxford and Blackpool, but Fets was also a decent keeper who played 150 odd times for us and 20 odd for Northern Ireland, in his two spells at the Ark.

Fets had more competition for his position as the City custodian though from local lad Steve Wilson who managed a few more games for the Tigers then Davies did and went onto become a North Ferriby United legend.

Come to think of it we’ve had some quality international stoppers in my time, Bo Myhill, enjoyed great success with us before moving on and now we’ve got two in one squad with our Jock stoppers Allen McGregor and David Marshall.

All had differing levels of success in a City shirt but in my time my favourite nutter at the back has to be Tony Norman, mainly because he spent most of his career with us pissing in the wind and I scored a penalty passed him.

@dazshep69

 

 

 

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