Sunday, 29 January 2012
For many years, Division Two was the big target that Norwich City Football Club aimed for. Having themselves joined the Football league in 1920, fourteen seasons were spent in the third level, often with mid to lower half finishes. Only in the early thirties did real progress start to show through, and after finishing as champions of Division Three South in 1933-34, the Canaries duly won a place in Division Two for the following season.
Our first Division Two game took place on the 25th of August 1934 at Griffin Park, Brentford. Ken Burditt scored our very first goal at this level, but City went down 2-1 on the day. Brentford it should be said went on to win the title that season. Norwich's first Division Two victory came on the 27th of August in a 4-1 win over Bury at the Nest. At the end of the campaign, the Canaries were in a very respectable position of 14th, proving they had been worthy of their divisional rise, and the increased interest in the club led to the move to Carrow Road.
In the immediate seasons that followed, they continued to more than hold their own - always comfortably avoiding relegation. In February 1937 however, Tom Parker left his position as manager to take up a similar position with Southampton. Bob Young replaced him and though no noticeable downturn was immediately detected, by Christmas 1938 the Canaries were caught up in a relegation battle. Another change in manager took place - former international referee Jimmy Jewell sat in the hot seat in his one and only spell as a football manager. But Norwich finished the term one from bottom after a tense final match of the season which they won (against Nottingham Forest) but not by a big enough margin. This meant relegation, and months later the Second World War started, meaning football competitions were suspended.
The road to re-establishment was long and hard for Norwich. Their next match in Division Two would not occur until the 20th of August 1960 at Carrow Road against Sheffield United. Terry Allcock netted in a 1-1 draw. The team still consisted of many of the '59ers, the players that had taken the Canaries to a FA Cup semi final just a year earlier. 1960-61 was the start of a prolonged stay at this level for the club - twelve consecutive seasons in fact. Norwich became perennial second level participants, never in danger of relegation, nor, it should be said, promotion. On the 1st of July 1969, Ron Saunders was appointed manager, and though we did not understand it at the time, the club's days as a Division Two team were numbered. With a gritty, no nonsense style, that allowed no margin for slacking or under commitment, he quickly moulded a winning mentality at Carrow Road. On the 29th of April 1972, Norwich City were crowned Division Two champions for the first time in history.
It would be nice to say that that was the end of their association with Division Two. However, getting a foothold in the top flight was just as hard back in those days as it is now, and on three single occasions Norwich found themselves back in the competition. Each time though, immediate promotion followed - a third place in 1974-75 and 1981-82, and in 1985-86 City won the Division Two title for the second time in history, comfortably ahead of Charlton Athletic and Wimbledon in the final table. Norwich's last ever Division Two match was at Carrow Road on the 3rd of May 1986, a 4-0 hiding of Leeds United. By the time the Canaries next appeared in the second level in 1995, Division Two had been replaced in rank by the new Division One.
The Football League started in 1888, and the addition of Division Two in 1892 was a major and significant development to association football in England. Teams joining were largely from the Football Alliance, a rival competition to the Football League. The twelve original members were (in order of their final position in the table) Small Heath (later to be known as Birmingham City), Sheffield United, Darwen, Grimsby Town, Ardwick (later Manchester City), Burton Swifts, Northwich Victoria, Bootle, Lincoln City, Crewe Alexandra, Burslem Port Vale, and Walsall Town Swifts. Promotion was not automatic in the early seasons, a series of 'test matches' took place between the highest finishing teams of Division Two and the lowest finishing teams in Division One.
The last ever winners of Division Two were Ipswich Town in 1991-92. Manchester City and Leicester City jointly hold the record for the most Division Two titles with six each. No defunct football club has ever won the competition, but two clubs who are currently outside the Football League have - Grimsby Town (twice) and Luton Town.