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John Bond

John Bond
Norwich Career: 1973-1980 (Manager)
Current Club: Deceased
Date of Birth:  
Nationality: English


When Ron Saunders quit as Norwich manager in the autumn of 1973, his replacement was John Frederick Bond. Bond had made his mark in the game as a full back with West Ham having made nearly 400 appearances for the Hammers. In a recent survey by Hammers magazine, John was rated by West Ham supporters at 41st place in their list of all-time West Ham favourites.

After leaving Upton Park, he joined Torquay and made another 129 appearances. After a brief spell coaching with Gillingham, he became manager at Bournemouth. His successes on the South Coast combined with his flamboyant style and love of the media, he was seen by Norwich chairman Sir Arthur South as the ideal replacement for the departed Saunders.

Bond used his West Ham and Bournemouth contacts to impose his vision and playing style onto Carrow Road. From these clubs came Mel Machin, Phil Boyer, Tony Powell, Ted MacDougall, Kevin Reeves, Alan Taylor, Roger Brown and Martin Peters. The signing of the 1966 World Cup Hero was a masterstroke and not only secured Norwich' promotion back into the old Division One but provided inspiration and experience for Norwich's youth team programme. Without Peters, would Kevin Reeves, Justin Fashanu, Mark Barham and Peter Mendham have made such an impact on the game ? John's own son Kevin also broke into the Norwich first team in April 1976.

After continued struggles against relegation and relative success with limited funds, it is not surprising that John Bond was tempted by the Manchester City job when the Maine Road side decided that he was the man to lead them to greater success. Bond moved on 11 October 1980 taking John Benson and John Sainty with him. He was replaced by Ken Brown as Norwich manager. Bond only had limited success at Manchester City reaching the FA Cup final in 1981. He was sacked in 1983 and has since managed Burnley (1983-84), Swansea (1984-85), Birmingham City (1986-87) and Shrewsbury (1991-93). He has assisted his son Kevin with scouting for Stafford Rangers but is also a BBC Radio 5 commentator.

In November 1998, he returned to managership as he took over at struggling Northern league Division 1 side Witton Albion. In September 1999 it was reported that John had joined the backroom team at John Benson's Wigan. Today, at the age of 67, he is still actively involved in the game he cares so passionately about. He has the look of a fit, sprightly pensioner and the fact that he's sporting a tracksuit doesn't look in the least bit incongruous. The hair might be grey and the features lined but there's a sparkle in his eye. Bond explains his role that he is "just a consultant, really - I don't have a contract or anything like that because I'm here because I want to be - not because I need to be," he explained. "I go training with the lads, I watch all the games with John (Benson) and I advise him and the other coaches (recently retired players Colin Greenhall and Brendan O'Callaghan) if I see fit to do so. "

In February 2000, John was interviewed by the Eastern Daily Press. He describes the day he left Norwich as the biggest mistake of his life. "Sir Arthur (City chairman Sir Arthur South) had told me I had seven and a half years of a contract to run and as soon as I stopped managing I could become general manager and when I wanted to finish I could become a director of the club. Basically I had a job for life. But in my wisdom I went to Manchester City because I thought it was bigger" What upset him most was the break down of the friendships with Sir Arthur South and Ken Brown but these past grievances have been settled now. "It was never a problem keeping them in Division One when I was there," said Bond. While we couldn't spend the sort of money the Arsenals and Manchester United could we held our own. It was a brilliant club to be involved with. I had some wonderful players and Sir Arthur made it a real family football club. Going from that environment to Manchester City, which was a cold, calculating sort of place, was a real shock. It just wasn't me" Bond also made undoubtedly the best signing ever by a Norwich City manager when he tempted World Cup winner Martin Peters to leave Tottenham and come to Norfolk. He still smiles at the memory of working with a man who was recently voted Norwich's best ever player in a supporters' poll. "There's no doubt that Martin was the best buy I ever made as a manager. He made your job easy. He'd never let you down on the pitch and all the other players knew they had to try and live up to him. At first he didn't want to come. He wasn't sure about moving to Norfolk and didn't think we were paying him enough but in the end I persuaded him and he absolutely loved it. It was a brilliant time. There were fabulous people, fabulous characters around the place. "There was Forbesy (Duncan, not Adrian) who I hear is still there, kicking everyone in sight! And of course Justin Fashanu who had the world at his feet only to die in such a tragic manner. There was also Tony Powell who was a great player for me and is now in the United States and living as a woman. There are one or two sad stories but most of the memories are happy ones.

Bond readily admits that he is no expert on the modern day Canaries - he keeps an eye on their progress but hasn't seen them play live since he watched those famous UEFA Cup battles with Bayern Munich as a radio summariser - but it saddens him to see them in the second flight with huge debts. "You hear all the stories about the club being well run and now they're in all this trouble," he said. "I don't think it has anything to do with the present people - it's probably from the past. There seems to have been an awful lot of money going into the football club and I don't know what happened to it. They're struggling for their lives now and are finding it a job to be other than ordinary "They've been messing about with managers for quite a long time now and I don't think that serves them very well," Bond continued. "If Bruce is the right man then keep him, if he's not then get the right person who will help develop the club, keep getting youngsters in and generally do the right things for the club. "For a long while it was a well run club - under Sir Arthur and under (Robert) Chase for a while - but now it's getting back to what it was like when Ron Saunders first took over. They need to get out of that and get back into the Premiership. With all the facilities they have got they are a Premiership club. They've got everything going for them - the only thing they haven't got is a team. If they want to make the use of all those beautiful facilities they've got to get a decent team together. "It's difficult without money but you need someone who will make a few silk purses out of sows ears for them. I got Martin (Peters) at the end of his career but I knew what a good player he was and what a big influence he would have on the football club. There are people around like that - you've just got to get them. "They may cost a couple of bob more than the club want to pay but if that's what's needed you've got to do it. "And you can't just say 'we haven't got any money'. You've got to work hard at bringing on youngsters and coaching. That's what clubs like Norwich are all about. You've got to have players who are prepared to graft and work everyday to learn more about the game and have people who can teach them about the game.

In June 2007, a report on Nonleaguedaily.com said that John Bond was to work as a football consultant with Blue Square Premier club Northwich Victoria. Bond has been involved in the selection process of Northwich's new manager but will stay on in an advisory capacity. Northwich chairaman Mike Connett said: "John is going to be a consultant on football matters. It's loose, but there is an arrangement and so whoever is in place as manager they know if they have got any problems they can talk to somebody who is the daddy of them all. I don't think you can get better than that."

John passed away on 26th September 2012, aged 79

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