You can now order Tales from the City volume 3 by clicking here
Learn more about the book by reading this preview by Editor Mick Dennis
Ken Brown’s wife left the room for a while. She returned carrying a leather-bound book, about A4 size but less than an inch thick. I already knew what it contained: pure gold for someone editing a book about Norwich City.
Brown and his wife, Elaine, attended John Bond’s funeral in 2012, as did many of the game’s biggest names. And as Elaine listened to mourners reminiscing, she thought how sad it was that it had taken a funeral to get everyone talking about ‘Bondy’ again.
So, as her husband approached his 80th birthday, Elaine contacted folk she thought might like to ‘say a few words about Browny’. She put their responses, by letters and emails, in that book.
Martin O’Neill had written, ‘Ken’s belief in me as a player helped bring out of me what I wasn’t sure was there.’
Steve Bruce said, ‘To this day I try to use some of the managerial skills I first saw in Ken.’
Ruel Fox had put, ‘He was a great father-figure for me, and I shall always be in his debt.’
And so they went on; heart-felt praise from great names to a great manager and a great man. There was plenty of ‘banter’ too, though. Ian Crook said that the angriest hew saw Brown was when the team bus didn’t stop for fish and chips after an away game. Mick Channon remembered the players getting their manager a lollipop man outfit for Christmas because he spent so much time stopping traffic to collect balls that went over the fence at the training ground.
Elaine Brown interrupted my reverie. ‘You can take the book home with you, if you think it would help.’
What if I blobbed coffee on one of the pages? Or a grandchild pulled it down to see if there was anywhere to crayon? But, wait… what if Elaine could scan the pages and email the images to me? What if I could share this treasure trove of tributes with other Norwich City fans?
And so what Sir Alex Ferguson, Terry Venables, John Bond’s widow Janet, and a host of City greats think about Ken Brown forms a unique addition to his chapter in Tales From The City volume three.
There were other strokes of fortune as I set about compiling the third collection of Norwich City stories. For instance, all the people I approached about Duncan Forbes waived their own self-interest to ensure that ‘Big Dunc’ made it into Tales three. His chapter is my adaption of an interview he gave in 2009 for a book that was never published.
Brown and Forbes are huge figures in the club’s history but I wanted Gary Doherty, Simon Lappin and Dion Dublin simply because they were my heroes. I wanted ‘Disco’ Dale Gordon because I thought he might be amusing (I was wrong. He is uproarious).
Lappin and the Doc have something in common. Both were told by managers that they had no future at the club and would have to train with the kids. Both proved those managers wrong. Their Tales take us behind the scenes and right into those extraordinary stories.
The Doc and Dion could play at centre-back or centre-forward. But they had a very different attitude towards that versatility. You’ll have to read the book to find out what I mean.
Then there’s Terry Allcock, one of the club’s all-time greats, who reveals that when he switched from striker to centre-back, his own sense of right and wrong stopped him breaking the club scoring record.
There’s Tim MacWilliam, who commentates on City gams for blind or partially-sighted spectators. There’s Di Cunningham, founder of Proud Canaries. There’s Rick Waghorn, who, as the Canaries correspondent of the Evening News had a close-up view as the Robert Chase era ended. And there is a scoop: Tom Smith, newest and youngest board member, sets out what he wants for our club.I set about producing a book I, as a City supporter, would want to read. It would be a thrill if you like it too.