maurice norman - fact file

1955 - 1967        defender

Born on 8th May 1934 in Mulbarton, Norfolk, England.

Height : - .m  (' ")

Weight : -  - kgs    (st lbs)

 
A gentle giant of a centre-half, who came from Norfolk to play a pivotal role in Tottenham's growth as a dominant force and in the Double winning side of 1960-61.

He was spotted playing for Wymondham Minors by Norwich, who took him to Carrow Road and signed him as a professional.  It was three years before he made his league debut, but within a few months, his performances had marked him out as a man that Bill Nicholson would anchor his back four around.  Played only 35 matches for Norwich City before Tottenham moved to sign the big centre-half in November 1955.  However, he was bought as a replacement for Alf Ramsey at right back and started in the team immediately in that position until he was hit by injury in September 1956 and he was out of the side for six months.

On his return to the side, Maurice found that Peter Baker had made the right back place his own, so it was on the other flank that he found his way into the team.  Solid as a full back, his forte was in the middle of the defence and he took the place of John Ryden there, but failed to hold the shirt on a regular basis.  It took until the middle of the following season to win favour in central defence, but it was to be a long run in the side, with only the career ending injury brining to a close a six year stretch in the side.

Big Mo won international caps, starting with his debut alongside Bobby Moore in Peru in a 4-0 win that secured his place in the World Cup team playing Hungary in Chile just eleven days later.  He played in all four games for his country in that competition before losing 1-3 to Brazil in the second round and went on to win 23 caps in all over two years in the side.

His development as a centre-half of strength, class and intelligence has set him aside as a player who played a pivotal part in the club's successes of the early 1960s.  The Double, another FA Cup in 1962, the European Cup-Winners Cup all featured Big Mo in middle of the Tottenham back line, winning headers and launching attacks from his passes out of defence, both short and long.  His ability to know where he wanted his opponent to go translated well into European and international football, as he made the switch to dealing with other styles of attacks.  While not the greatest tackler, his positional play allowed him to dispossess opponents or direct them away from goal.

Helped in one way by having the half back pairing of Dave Mackay and Danny Blanchflower alongside him, his feeding of the ball to them helped them initiate forward moves and his position sense in holding a defensive position let them have free rein to move up-field. Indeed, Norman became one of the first centre-backs to go up for set-pieces, with his presence causing disruption in penalty area for others to profit from rather than being the one who scored himself.

Using his long legs not just to win the ball in the tackle, but to stretch them out in bringing the ball out of defence, Maurice was a key player in the Double team, making the defence a unit that was difficult to break down.

An incident in a show-piece friendly game against a Hungarian Select XI at White Hart Lane left both Maurice's leg and career shattered, as it left him with an injury he never recovered from and his retirement left a big hole in the middle of the Tottenham defence for many years to come.

Norman's time at Tottenham coincided with a period of great success and his part in the great team of that era should not be over-looked, as he was not only a strong centre-half, but also showed good use of the ball from the back and he became one of the first players to move forward for set-pieces to add his not inconsiderable height to the attack from dead ball situations.

He moved back to Norfolk and then Suffolk, as he enjoyed his life after retiring from football.

NICKNAME :  "Monty", "Swede" (as he collected vegetables on a farm as a youngster),

MIDDLE NAME :
 

Career Record
 
Club Signed Fee Debut Apps Goals
Wymondham Minors ?? ?? ??  ?? ??
Norwich City September 1952 ?? February 1955 v Watford (Third Division [South]) (away)  drew 2-2 ?? ??
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3rd November 1955 £28,000 (incl. Johnny Gavin) 5th November 1955 v Cardiff City (Division 1) (home) drew 1-1 ?? ??

Career Record
Norwich City
35 League appearances; ?? goals
- FA Cup appearances; - goals
- League Cup appearances; goals
- Other appearances; - goals
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
357 League appearances; 16 goals
37 FA Cup appearances; 2 goals
- League Cup appearances; goals
17 European appearances; 1 goal
- Other appearances; goals

Honours
England international
23 full caps;  0 goals
Debut : -  21. May 1962  v Peru (away) (friendly)  won 4-0
Under-21 caps; goals
First Division Championship winners medal 1960-61 (THFC)
FA Cup winners medal 1960-61, 1961-62 (THFC)
European Cup Winner's Cup winners medal 1962-63 (THFC

Milestones
400th total appearance for the club v Leeds United 08.09.1965
- appearance

2008  (THFC programme)

What was your pre-match meal : -  Scrambled egg on toast; fruit salad
What player of today would you like to have played with ? : -  Not with, but against ... Didier Drogba.  I would have loved to have tried to match my strength, skill and power against such a player. 
What player from your era would be worth £30 million today ? : - Possibly Duncan Edwards (Manchester United) would have been.  I had the pleasure of playing in the England Under-23s behind him at left back.  He seemed such a complete player - power, strength, good in the air, two good feet and he could read the game well.  He did not seem to have any weak points.
Favourite away ground ?  : - Newcastle United.  I usually played my best there,  I even scored against them a couple of times.
Favourite game ?  : - the FA Cup semi-final match against Aston Villa, when the press likened to the 'Colossus of Rhodes' as I had a really good game.
What era were you at your best ? : -  Probably the 1960s, between 1960 and 1965.  Because of the Double, the second FA Cup, the European Cup-Winners Cup, the fantastic European matches and then playing for England v Chile in the 1962 World Cup.  I rarely missed a game during that time and really enjoyed playing in those seasons.
Who was your most difficult opponent ?  : -  I always enjoyed a tussle in the air with John Charles when he played at centre forward.  Also, Torres of Portugal, who was 6'7" tall and posed problems with his awkwardness, making heading difficult.  But, on the ground, it was Tom Finney, who I rate as one of the greatest players; he could play on either wing or at centre forward.
Who was your hardest opponent ? : -  Most teams had a 'hard man' in their team in my day.  Such as Ron Harris at Chelsea, Billy Bremner and Norman Hunter of Leeds United, Nat Lofthouse of Bolton Wanderers.  But, to be honest, you have to go a long way to beat our own Dave Mackay.
How much was in your first pay packet ? : -  My first real pay packet came when I was in the Army doing National Service, having signed for Norwich City just before.  It was £12 a week in the season and £10 during the summer.
How would your side do in the current Premier League ?  : -  It is quite difficult to give an accurate answer because the game has quickened, pitches, training and diet have all improved performance.  But, given a 'level playing field', I feel we of the Double team would have given any team a run for their money.  We would especially have enojyed the good pitches although, ironically, I often played better in the mud.  

           

 

What they said about Maurice Norman
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What Maurice Norman said about ...
... the FA Cup Sixth Round match at Sunderland on 04.03.1961 ...  09.11.2010 ()

"It was certainly amongst the best atmospheres I ever experienced in my career.  Their crowd was particularly vocal and I especially remember a large banked terrace at one goal-end where fans surged forward when they scored.  I was always very impressed with Sunderland's stadium and the noise it generated.”

“There was a lot of excitement ahead of the replay.  I can remember hearing that the gates had to shut prior to kick off because there were that many people wanting to watch the game.  I recall seeing young supporters on the old Shelf side of the ground being passed to the front of the stand as the crowd grew.  I'd say that there were definitely more people in the ground than the official total."

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             Appearances

Season League FA Cup League Cup UEFA Cup
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            For other articles on Maurice Norman

          By - Richard Porter
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