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Dave Stringer: Duncan was larger than life

25 October 2019

Former Norwich City defender Dave Stringer has commented on his old centre-back partner and friend, Duncan Forbes, who sadly passed away this week aged 78.

The pair played together during City’s first ever promotion to the first division in 1972. Stringer famously said that "if [Duncan] shouted in Norwich it could be heard in Yarmouth," and has spoken to about his relationship with a club legend. Tell us a bit about Duncan’s career and his attitude towards it.

DS: “Duncan was a very popular player and man at Norwich City. He spent most of his career at Norwich and through that he met lots of different people in different jobs. Even spectators were able to meet him because of his job with the travel club for away games.

“He worked in the shop as well, so he’s probably done more jobs at the football club than most people in different areas, from playing for the team to working in the commercial department and the travel club, then back into the football side when he was chief scout for me. He did a good job there. Wherever he was, he gave it his full attention.” That shows how much he must have loved the club to stay for that long after playing.

DS: “Yeah, I think so. It was probably the done thing in those days. Players and people stayed at clubs a lot longer because of the circumstances. When you finished playing, you had to continue your career doing something else. It was lucky for us that he stayed and worked for the club in several capacities.” You once said that he could be heard in Yarmouth if he was shouting in Norwich!

DS: “[Laughs] Well he was larger than life. He had a very loud voice and wherever he went everybody heard him above everyone else. In the travel club, he’d keep people in order and make sure they got on the coach on time. When they went for meals, he’d make sure that they were organised and did it in an orderly way. He kept them all in check. Everyone respected him and what he had to do so they got on with it, and if they didn’t get on with it, they got the rough edge of his tongue and he’d sort them out!” In his press conference today, Daniel Farke said he’d heard rumours that Duncan could be heard in Cromer!

DS: “Yes, he’s probably right. He had one of those types of voices. On the football pitch, when you’re in the middle of it with the crowd making a lot of noise, he had to make himself heard. I think the reason he did it was not just a need to encourage players but also to let them know if they’re not doing their jobs that they need to concentrate for 90 minutes and do what they’re expected to do.” There will be a minute’s silence ahead of the Manchester United game this Sunday, and the players will be wearing black armbands as a mark of respect to remember Duncan. It’s going to be an emotional occasion, isn’t it?

DS: “Yeah, I’m sure it will be, and rightly so. He should be given that respect because of what he meant to Norwich City Football Club. I’ve been inundated with messages from players who have played with him over the years, as well as others who were working at the football club while he was there. All these people through several eras were saying the same things – he was such an icon and a legend in name and in action.” Is there anything you’d like to add on what he meant to you personally?

DS: “Yeah, I have to say being a colleague of Duncan’s and a friend was a pleasure. We did things off the pitch as well, particularly when he finished his career. He used to come over with his wife Janette and we used to go out together and see each other after football. It cements the idea that we had a good relationship and a good career together at Norwich.

“There was only one occasion when we played against each other. We were both coming towards the end of our careers and I was at Cambridge United. He was on loan from Norwich at Torquay United. We gave no quarter and when it came to playing football he was playing for Torquay and it meant as much to him to win the game as it did to me to win it for Cambridge. We did clash a few times on the pitch and gave no quarter! Afterwards, we certainly shook hands and probably had a drink together and got on with it. It was that sort of relationship.” Ever the professional. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Dave.

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