In February 1980 Hull City’s manager, the former Wales international boss Mike Smith, signed unknown goalkeeper Tony Norman from Burnley. Born in Mancot, a village close to the River Dee six miles from Chester but just over the Welsh border, Norman hadn’t even played a reserve team game at Turf Moor due to the quality of goalkeeping talent the Lancastrians possessed, but Smith knew about Norman from Wales under-21 squads and recognised his talent. Tony was thrust straight into the first team and it was quickly apparent that City had unearthed an unflappable shotstopper, distributor and organiser. Supported by fellow Welsh goalkeeper John Davies, the constant bridesmaid for six years between 1980 and 1986, Norman made the first team berth his own. His languid style and trademark hand-on-hip stance would sometimes portray a laid-back approach to his work, but when called upon Tony was always agile and prepared. As the Tigers ascended the league structure (the Fourth Division promotion engineered by Colin Appleton in 1983 was the Tigers’ first elevation for seventeen years) Norman consolidated his place in goal and in City history – between the 27th August 1983 (a 4-1 drubbing of Burnley) and the 20th September 1988 (a 1-3 beating at Blackburn) Tony played in 226 consecutive league games for the Tigers, a remarkable and seemingly unassailable club record. As City improved during that period, especially during the tenure of Brian Horton, Norman gained recognition as one of the best goalkeepers outside the top flight. By 1988 Norman reputation in the game was at its peak, and when chairman Don Robinson decided to balance the club’s books with some strategic player sales it was Norman who was identified as a saleable asset. He played his last game for City on Boxing Day 1988 (a 1-1 draw against Bradford City) and joined Sunderland days later in a cash-plus-players deal that saw City legend Billy Whitehurst and goalkeeper Iain Hesford move to the Tigers. Norman ended his time at City with 442 first team appearances, placing him fifth on the all-time list of appearances for the Tigers.
Tony made his debut for Sunderland on New Years Eve 1988, a 4-0 drubbing at home to Portsmouth, and he instantly became the Black Cats’ first choice keeper, just as he had been at Hull. In six and a half seasons he made over 200 senior appearances for Sunderland, had a season in the top flight (1990/91) and played in the 1992 FA Cup Final against Liverpool, where Sunderland lost the game but were handed winners’ medals at the after-game staircase climb. In the summer of 1995 Norman left Sunderland and was reunited with former boss Brian Horton at Huddersfield Town where he spent a further two years in a reserve goalkeeper role.
Shortly after ending his playing career in 1998 Norman became a police officer for Durham Constabulary. He fulfilled this role for several years but in 2003 he suffered severe chest pains and was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a condition that led to heart damage and fluid forming in his lungs. After a lengthy recovery Norman, now unable to work in the police force, embarked on a coast-to-coast charity walk in 2005 to raise funds for the Childrens Heart Foundation. Three years later in 2008 Tony was appointed the Academy goalkeeping coach at Sunderland and he later fulfilled similar coaching roles for the first team goalkeepers at Darlington, Gateshead and Blyth Spartans.
Just as John Davies had been Tony’s near-constant unused reserve at City, so Norman was a talented but rarely called-upon reserve for Neville Southall in the Welsh national team. Despite being one of the finest goalkeepers the principality had spawned for many years, Norman managed only 5 international caps for Wales between 1986 and 1988.
Date/Place of Birth: 24 February 1958, Mancot
Hull City First Game: 16 February 1980, Millwall H (Division Three), 21 years, 357 days old
Hull City Final Game: 26 December 1988, Bradford City H (Division Two), 30 years, 306 days old
Burnley (1976-1980), Hull City (1980-1988), Sunderland (1988-1995), Huddersfield Town (1995-1997)
Hull City Record
Career: 442 apps, 0 goalsTony Norman
|1980/81||42 (0)||0||6 (0)||0||2 (0)||0||-||-||3 (0)||0|
|1981/82||36 (0)||0||4 (0)||0||2 (0)||0||-||-||3 (0)||0|
|1982/83||36 (0)||0||2 (0)||0||1 (0)||0||-||-||3 (0)||0|
|1983/84||46 (0)||0||2 (0)||0||2 (0)||0||-||-||5 (0)||0|
|1984/85||46 (0)||0||3 (0)||0||4 (0)||0||-||-||2 (0)||0|
|1985/86||42 (0)||0||3 (0)||0||4 (0)||0||-||-||4 (0)||0|
|1986/87||42 (0)||0||3 (0)||0||3 (0)||0||-||-||1 (0)||0|
|1987/88||44 (0)||0||3 (0)||0||2 (0)||0||-||-||-||-|
|1988/89||21 (0)||0||-||-||2 (0)||0||-||-||1 (0)||0|