Duncan Forbes, the much-loved former centre-back for Norwich City FC, donned a pair of yellow and green wings on Wednesday 23rd October. He passed away at the age of 78 at Woodside House Care Home in Heartsease, Norwich, in the presence of his family. He leaves his wife, Janette, and two sons, Elliott and Scott.
The Scot had a career with the team longer than most, racking up a total of 33 years as a player, Captain, member of commercial staff, manager of Club Canary, trip organiser and finally chief scout in the run-up to his retirement in 2001. There were brief flirtations with other clubs but in his heart, Forbes was married to Norwich City. He joined the team from Colchester in September 1968 for a fee of £10,000, a meagre sum by today’s standards.
After leaving the team, he played for Great Yarmouth Town, before moving on to Diss Town as a player-coach. But he returned to join Norwich City’s commercial staff within a year. In 1988, Forbes became the team’s chief scout, a position he held until his retirement 13 years later. During his time playing for the team, he made a total of 357 appearances, and scored a total of 12 goals. He was awarded the Barry Butler Trophy, the fan’s player of the season award, in 1970, and went on to captain the Canaries to their first ever Second Division title and promotion to the league above.
However, his turn at the wheel wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, with the team suffering losses in the League Cup finals in both 1973 and 1975. But his popularity with fans of the team was never up for debate. In 2002 he was inaugurated into the Norwich City Hall of Fame, and in March 2014, a Premier League match against Stoke City was used to raise funds for his care, after he was moved into a care home the previous year.
Forbes had been receiving treatment for Alzheimer’s since 2007. Before the match, Norwich City players warmed up in commemorative ‘Forbes’ t-shirts which were auctioned out after the game. In addition, all of the profits from the day’s programme were donated to his care.
In remembrance of Forbes, a minute silence was planned for the home game for Norwich City against Manchester United on October 27th. Spectators were asked to arrive early before kick-off to find their seats and pay their respects. But instead of the silence a round of applause burst across the stadium after the commentator read out a summary of Forbes’ time with the club. It was followed by a tearful round of the club anthem, ‘On The Ball City.’