Standing at six feet and two inches, James Norman Corner was a giant amongst footballers during the 1960s and 1970s. He was born in Horden in the East Durham Coalfields and played for East Durham Boys and the local Colliery Welfare side as a teenager, as well as working at the local colliery. In 1960 he was offered a place on the Wolverhampton Wanderers groundstaff and stayed at Molineux for a year and a half before returning to Horden in early 1962. His form for Horden CW was sufficient for Hull City to offer him a contract in August 1962.
A powerful striker by trade at this stage of his career, Corner had a problem – he was a capable centre forward, but he had to wait in line behind talented goalscorer Chris Chilton who was four months younger than Norman but well advanced in terms of his career development. Corner had to wait patiently in the reserves for nearly two years before he made his debut in the last game of the 1963/64 season, an event that he celebrated in style by scoring twice in a 3-1 win at Brentford.
At the start of the 1964/65 season Chilton was out of form and seeking a transfer away from the Tigers. He was rested for five games in September 1964 and Corner again deputised, scoring goals in a 3-2 home win over Bristol City and a 1-2 defeat at Queens Park Rangers. Chilton returned at the start of October and hit four goals against Barnsley, then a few weeks later Ken Wagstaff was signed and the strike duo embarked on their goal-fest partnership, leaving Corner back in the reserves. Norman was not used at all in the 1965/66 Division Three championship winning season and when he was selected for two matches in February and March 1967 it was as replacement half back, deputising both times for Mike Milner. Norman left the Tigers in early stages of the 1967/68 season.
Corner joined Lincoln City in October 1967 and quickly slotted into the forward line at the Fourth Division side. He scored his first goal for the Imps against Luton Town in November 1967, then added a brace against Southend and a hattrick against Bradford Park Avenue in April 1968 after a two month absence. Corner started the 1968/69 season as first choice centre forward and by the turn of the year he had scored six goals, taking his total for Lincoln City to 14 goals in 52 appearances. In January 1969 Bradford City paid £4,000 for Norman’s signature, the same fee that Lincoln had paid to Hull City, and he rewarded the Bantams with eight goals in 21 starts, including a hattrick against Newport County, as the Yorkshire club won promotion from Division Four. Now operating in the Third Division, Corner served Bradford City for three further seasons – in 1969/70 he scored eight goals operating mostly at centre forward, then in 1970/71 he played more regularly at centre half, scoring against his former club Lincoln City in a drawn FA Cup tie and two subsequent replays. He played less regularly in the 1971/72 season and dropped out of the first team picture after an injury sustained against Aston Villa in December 1971. He left the Bantams in March 1972 close season having scored 23 goals in 125 appearances, taking his career tally to 41 goals in 181 appearances across a ten year career.
Norman joined non-league side Bradford Park Avenue in March 1972 and spent the 1972/73 season in Bradford before returning to the North East to play a season at South Shields. In 1975 he moved back to his home town of Horden and was appointed player-coach at Wingate FC, a Wearside League club located a few miles inland. He played for Wingate until 1978 and managed them until the early 1980s, guiding the club to several trophies. When he left Wingate in 1981 he joined the committee at his former club Horden Colliery Welfare while pursuing business interests and coaching football to youngsters in local schools. By 2004 he had had two hip replacements and a triple heart bypass but still had a deep love for the game. He lived in Peterlee for the rest of his life, dying in February 2011.
Date/Place of Birth: 16 February 1943, Horden
Hull City First Game: 28 April 1964, Brentford A (Division Three), 21 years, 72 days old
Hull City Final Game: 27 March 1967, Birmingham City A (Division Two), 24 years, 39 days old
Horden Colliery Welfare, Wolverhampton Wanderers (1960-1962), Horden Colliery Welfare (1962), Hull City (1962-1967), Lincoln City (1967-1969), Bradford City (1969-1972), Bradford Park Avenue (1972-1973), South Shields (1973-1974), Wingate (1974-1978)
Hull City Record
Career: 8 apps, 4 goalsNorman Corner
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