European competition hasn't always been comprised of the continent's biggest clubs. Joe Ferrari looksback at Norwich City's remarkable run
The Heysel disaster having denied us three times, Norwich finally reached Europe after finishing third in 1992-93. And what an Odyssey it turned out to be, started fittingly amongst the familiar surroundings of Carrow Road in September 1993 and ending on a surreal night three months later with ‘On The Ball City!’ reverberating around the San Siro.
How will your team do this season? With Celtic having a complete shake-up over the close season, perhaps second, although the general view from the Scottish press is fourth.
How will your team do? Well we made the playoffs last season when nobody fancied us, so the same again must be within our grasp. Much will depend on manager Alex MacDonald’s close season activities.
Most important figure? With the club about to return to its roots with the opening of our new stadium, chairman David Smith’s role in relaunching the Diamonds within the community will be crucial.
New piece of merchandise? A Johnny Martin goalkeeping doll that burps, farts and swings on a replica crossbar.
Change to matchday environment? Bring back the target golf or referee/goalie mime troupe which proved so popular years ago at Bloomfield, and dump all these pointless mascots.
Doug Stenhouse offers his predictions for the forthcoming season
Imagine a club in your league makes up a new rule to dissolve the competition as it stands and form a new league expelling five clubs. Imagine all the clubs are circulated with the proposal except the five to be expelled. Couldn’t happen? It has happened before: this is exactly what Glasgow Rangers tried to do in Scotland at the end of 1965-66. The five were Stranraer, Albion Rovers, Berwick Rangers, Stenhousemuir and Brechin. Only a last ditch court room battle and intense lobbying by Berwick chairman George Shiel won the day. A costly result for Rangers as two years later they lost to lowly Berwick in the Scottish Cup.
How will your team do this season? Third (again)
Who is going to be the most important figure at the club this season? Arsène Wenger: he’s the most intelligent person ever to be associated with professional football anywhere in the world ever, so this is our chance to just sit back and enjoy whatever he comes up with...
If you had to come up with a new piece of merchandise to sell at the club shop what would it be? Life-size, fully realistic, 100% physically accurate model of Ian Wright.
Which player at your club most divides the home support and why? Ian Wright: bizarrely, a sizeable portion of the fans seems to think that we’d do better without him, that he’s too old, too selfish, or some such crackpot theory. These people are clearly insane or are from the Arsenal old school and simply can’t cope with too much pleasure.
Which element of the matchday environment would you most like to change? Installing some kind of device which sends a near-fatal electric shock through anyone who shouts “Yiddos!” and make it easier to get a half-time cup of coffee, perhaps by getting rid of the enormous bar area in the North Bank and installing 10 coffee stalls.
How will your team do next season? At best mid table; at worst it’ll end in tears.
Who will be the single most important person at your club? Probably the combination of owners and the Chief Executive. The names of the club and the stadium are up for sale, so by the time you read this I may well be watching Atletico Notcutts Garden Centre at the Bordesley Family Butchers Stadium (except if that ever happens, I won’t be). There’s money at the club, but it still has to be spent astutely.
If you had to come up with a new piece of merchandise to sell at the club shop what would it be? A Mark McGhee dartboard would sell like hot cakes.
Which player at your club most divides the home support and why? Probably, I’m afraid, Paul Furlong. There are those who say that he’s workshy, ineffective and inadequate – and there are those that really don’t like him at all.
What one thing would you most like to change about the matchday environment? I’d quite like the football to be more interesting.
How will your team do this season? Had Gary Megson stayed as manager I would have tipped us for automatic promotion, but with the unwelcome changes in the summer I would say a play-off place would be a very good result for the new man, Nigel Worthington.
Who is going to be the most important figure at the club this season? Fans would have preferred a diehard Tangerine at the helm, so Nigel Worthington must convince them that he has the club at heart and is not, like Megson, simply looking for another entry on his CV.
If you had to come up with a new piece of merchandise to sell at the club shop what would it be? Our proposed ‘super stadium’ has gone through more changes (over a number of years) than Man United kits, with movable roofs, dual pitches, floating pitches, 20,000 seats, 40,000 seats etc,etc. There could be small replicas of each version for fans to collect, but they’d need a huge amount of shelf space.
Which element of the matchday environment would you most like to change? Any change to the half time entertainment would be welcome – I remember a recent Autoglass Trophy tie when two fans from each side had to remove and replace a car windscreen. Worse, a couple of seasons ago, we bought four of the giants from It’s A Knockout, which would race the full length of the pitch and try to score a goal. The hilarity began to pale thirtieth time around. Thankfully someone broke into the ground and reputedly vandalised them beyond repair, although I am convinced one of them has made occasional appearances for Birmingham City.
How will your team do this season? Bit hard, this one. Our new manager has currently signed five new players with the promise of more to come. Even so, we can’t expect too many great things from a bunch of Peterborough rejects. Realistically we’ll come mid-table (again).
Who is going to be the most important figure at the club this season? John Still, our 7th manager in 12 months! We need to bring a bit of stability to the club after the Alan Mullery debacle.
If you had to come up with a new piece of merchandise to sell at the club shop what would it be? As we have a club shop which can rightly claim the title of “Worst Shop in The League” (to go with our proud “Worst Ground in the League” award), any piece of merchandise would be nice. Getting the new kit on sale before Christmas would be a novelty.
Which player at your club most divides the home support and why? You name him! Barnet fans tend to sway towards the fickle side. Even Sean Devine (top scorer two seasons running) gets some stick.
Which element of the matchday environment would you most like to change? Topical one this. One of the editors of Two Together was recently refused service at one of our snack bars on the grounds that they were closing. It wouldn’t have been so bad but there was still over half an hour of the game left to go. Jobsworths are alive and well at Underhill.
Xavier Wiggins reports on Wimbledon's lack of action as they search for a new home
As followers of a team that have spent eleven consecutive years in the top flight, won the FA Cup and established themselves as formidable opponents, Wimbledon fans ought be envied by many other supporters. Closer examination, however reveals a club exiled from its own borough for the past seven seasons whose fans, whilst growing in number (a 115% increase since moving from Plough Lane) sit in a ground painted in the landlord’s colours, are stewarded by Palace fans and buy their merchandise in a shop where Wimbledon goods look like they have been put out by mistake. They even sup their pre-match beers in a bar called ‘Crystals’.
Bournemouth were nearly extinct due to their financial situation, but Rob Trent tells the happy story of their revival
“This afternoon at just after four o’clock the assets of AFC Bournemouth, the stand, the stadium, the name, the players, have all been transferred into the hands of the community club.” Thus spoke Trevor Watkins, the new Chairman of AFC Bournemouth, on 18th June 1997.