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“Nothing short of sensational” - Liverpool trio talk Fashanu volley

15 April 2020

When Justin Fashanu scored an outrageous volley against Liverpool 40 years ago, few in red could believe what they had just seen.

In the first part of our celebration of Fashanu’s great goal, we spoke to Greg Downs and Mick McGuire, who were a couple of his teammates on the day.

Now, in the second half of a feature that originally appeared in OTBC – our official award-winning matchday programme – we catch up with Liverpool trio Phil Thompson, David Fairclough and Jimmy Case, who all represented the opposition at Carrow Road.

OTBC: What are the memories that spring to mind when you think of that game at Carrow Road in February 1980?

PT: The 5-3 win at Norwich is a match that will always stick in my mind. David [Fairclough] scored a hattrick and of course Justin Fashanu got that unbelievable goal for Norwich.

“I didn’t really relish coming up against Justin. I remember saying to Alan Hansen, ‘you can mark him today!’”

I can remember watching a daytime football show on television one day before the match, something like Football Focus, Saint and Greavsie or whatever it was in those days.

They did an interview feature on the show with Justin Fashanu, who was in a gym knocking seven bells out of a punch bag and with sweat pouring off him.

I can remember being on the team bus to Norwich and Alan Hansen [Thompson’s centre-back partner] was looking at me and I was looking at him.

Justin had a fantastic physique for a footballer and I really didn’t relish coming up against him. I can remember saying to Alan, ‘You can mark him today!’

DF: Matches with Norwich were always tough. The journey getting there was pretty memorable! It was one of the toughest places to get to during a league season, which we would do by rail.

I think we’d head to London and then back out if I’m not mistaken. I also think we might have flown there once or twice… that was pretty novel in those days!

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JC: Norwich had a good side in those days. I was watching the video of this match back and I was thinking what a decent Norwich team that was, with a World Cup winner in there in Martin Peters.

Graham Paddon was a really gifted midfielder, who I remember from his time at Norwich and West Ham. And then there was Kevin Reeves. I ended up playing under Kevin when I was at Wrexham and he was the assistant manager there under Brian Flynn.

I ran into Kevin Bond the other day funnily enough at the tip as we both live Southampton way! I played with Kevin at Bournemouth under Harry Redknapp.

It was a really good atmosphere on the day, with a full house and the fans close to the pitch. It was just one of those games that toed and froed. Norwich were unlucky not to get anything from the game. They missed a few chances whereas David Fairclough was clinical on the day for us.

OTBC: He certainly was. David, you scored a hat-trick in the game, which must have been memorable?

DF: I can remember my hattrick well. I’ve got to see the goals a fair few times since as the match highlights get shown on different sports channels every so often.

I’d scored hattricks before in junior football; in the reserves etc. But it quickly dawned on me what an achievement it was to score a hattrick at senior level. A memorable moment in my career for sure.

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OTBC: You joined Norwich about five years later. How did that come about?

DF: My transfer to Norwich was a complicated one on transfer deadline day. I had been talking to Manchester City and I thought I was going there. Their manager Billy McNeill tried to sign me and offered me a contract until the end of the season.

I wasn’t 100% happy with that, as I wanted a longer-term deal. Norwich manager Ken Brown rang and said ‘that’s not what you want’ with respect of Manchester City’s short-term deal.

I travelled over to Norwich expecting a longer-term deal, but I ended up being offered exactly the same deal as at Manchester City! As I was in Norwich and it was transfer deadline day, I put pen to paper on the Norwich contract.

Norwich won the League Cup around the time I joined. I remember watching the final on television in Liverpool and then a day or so later, I was part of the open-top bus parade through Norwich!

I was carrying an injury when I was at Norwich that wasn’t diagnosed until after I had left. I eventually had a neuroma removed from my foot. It really held back my Norwich career and that was a big shame. I wasn’t able to do myself justice in a Norwich shirt.

OTBC: Let’s get onto the elephant in the room. What are your memories of Fashanu’s volley and of playing against him?

PT: I remember the goal well. Big Al was a bit closer to Justin at the time thankfully. I’m not sure, but I think Justin might even have slightly mis-controlled the ball at first. The ball spun and Justin spun with it to hit it with this dip-volley.

I can remember just looking at the flight of the ball with my mouth open wide and my instant reaction was, ‘Wow… goal of the season!’ The goal was nothing short of sensational. It went on to be named ‘Goal of the Season’ and rightfully so.

It was one of the best goals I ever saw scored against Liverpool. It would be hard to for me to pick out one single goal and say, ‘that was the best goal I ever saw scored against us.’ But put it this way, it was right up there.

DF: A Stuart Surridge match ball was being used at the time in the Football League, and Norwich were one of just a handful of teams using it that season, I think. It moved differently in the air to other footballs, and maybe that helped it fly past Ray Clemence that day.

Of course, it was a great strike from Justin to give him his dues. After the tragedy of what happened to him, that goal is a lovely memory for people to have of a wonderful footballer.

Justin was his own type of player. A big, strong lad who made the most of his attributes. He enjoyed a great period of form at Norwich and you could see the confidence he had.

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I always thought Norwich was a great club for him to start out at, away from the limelight of the bigger cities. I met Justin a number of years after that match and we ended up playing tennis together.

It was nice getting to know him. He was a nice lad as well as a great footballer. It was always good to get to know opponents away from the pitch rather than just competing against them.

JC: Justin Fashanu was big and strong and a difficult opponent to come up against for sure. Was there a little bit of luck involved in that goal he scored? I would say so.

Even if he mis-controlled it for a split second, he still had to make that strike and what a strike it was. To even have the bottle to try a shot like that in the first place was quite something.

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