Where Are They Now? Steve Norris

Steve Norris with Mitch Cook and Tommy Graham
Steve Norris with Mitch Cook and Tommy Graham

When Neil Warnock paid £50,000 for Steve Norris in 1988, he recruited one of the most natural goalscorers in Scarborough FC’s history.

Norris may have only played just over 50 games for Scarborough FC, but his poaching skills certainly made their mark.

He struck 13 times during his first spell and then came back for more in the 1994-95 term, bagging four in eight games to rekindle those earlier flames.

Norris, who now runs a ceiling cleaning business in Chesterfield, only has words of praise for a club that gave him his big break in the game.

It could have all been very different though, as that move to the McCain Stadium almost didn’t happen.

“All I wanted to do when I was younger was to become a professional footballer,” said Norris.

“It nearly happened a couple of times when I was at VS Rugby because Frank Clark of Leyton Orient and Terry Cooper from Bristol City both came in for me.

“I ended up going to Telford, I won the player of the year and the golden boot, but I knew that a few league clubs were watching me.

“Sheffield Wednesday watched me in the FA Trophy final against Enfield at Wembley, Howard Wilkinson rang me after the game and asked how he had missed me.

“Telford strangely priced Sheffield Wednesday out of a move for me, but they then accepted a bid of £50,000 from Neil Warnock at Scarborough and I moved there.

“When I joined Scarborough, I scored a few goals in my first games and Dundee United offered £250,000, but Neil told me that I wouldn’t like Scotland and that was the end of that.”

No doubt Norris would have become more of a leading light with Boro had he not been hampered with a knee injury.

He added: “I signed with what turned out to be a bad knee, but at the time I didn’t know what the aching was.

“In the end I had an operation just before the Christmas of 1988, but there wasn’t any rehab. I was supposed to go to Lilleshall, but the club couldn’t afford it.

“There was a lot of muscle-wastage and it took me a while to come back from it, which lost me a lot of time.

“I was helped by working with the best man-manager I ever played under and having a great set of lads around me.

“Neil knew exactly how to handle players, be put an arm around the shoulder or a good telling off.

“I had some good friends in the changing room, like Steve Adams, Mitch Cook, Kevin Blackwell, in fact all the lads of that time.

“I also met some great mates in Scarborough in Rich Birley, Andrew Jenkinson and Derek Exley, who I still talk to now.

“The Scarborough FC get together at Scarborough Rugby Club in the summer just showed how close we were as a group.

“Neil Warnock looked around the room and said that there were a few different players from down the years, but there were 12 from our team.”

That period also included some of the biggest games in the club’s history, including the Littlewood Cup ties against Portsmouth and Southampton, as well as the two-legged win against Chelsea in the same competition a season later.

Norris said: “The Chelsea games were great to be involved in.

“We were third from bottom of the table at the time, but we’d just signed Martin Russell for £100,000 from Leicester City.

“We stayed over in a five-star hotel in London and sat down for a silver service meal in the build-up to the game.

“All the portions were tiny, so a lot of the lads went straight out and picked up a McDonalds to fill them up.

“We walked to Stamford Bridge for the first game and drew it 1-1.

“In the second we were 2-0 down with 20 minutes to go. I can remember Tommy Graham scoring to bring us back to it and he had that embarrassed look on his face because he wasn’t used to celebrating.

“Paul Robinson scored to level the game up and then I was pulled down for the penalty.

“I felt their defender Steve Clarke touch my shoulder and I thought ‘that’s it I’m down’. I wasn’t fighting it.

“The game against Oldham in the next round wasn’t as good.

“I think I touched the ball once in the 45 minutes I was on for and got blamed for two of the seven goals.

“Ian Bennyworth, who was marking their six-goal hero Frankie Bunn, said in the changing room after that he thought he’d had a good game.”

A year earlier, Norris had been involved in that other famous run.

“When we played Southampton, they were just outstanding. They had players like Paul Rideout and Matt Le Tissier, who was absolutely world class,” he said.

“I did manage to score in the home game against them. Mitch Cook crossed the ball, I ran in and just got my head on it.

“I had some great highlights from my time at Scarborough.

“That club gave me a start in the pro game and my kids idolise me for playing league football, which makes you feel great as a dad.”

Norris went on to have a second spell at Scarborough after great stints at Halifax Town and Chesterfield.

After a fall-out with Chesterfield boss John Duncan, he returned to the McCain Stadium for eight games midway through the 1994-95 campaign, scoring four goals in the process.

Norris added: “I had been at Chesterfield for a few years and I was top scorer every season. Brian Clough came to watch me five times and he said that I was one of the best natural finishers he had seen.

“I just don’t think John (Duncan) liked me as a footballer.

“He said that I didn’t make enough of a contribution, which was strange because people said the same about him when he was a player.

“Ray McHale was in charge of Scarborough at the time. He just told me to go out there and score goals.

“They had players like Darren Foreman and Adie Meyer, who was one of the trainees when I was first at the club.

“After that, I went back and played non-league for a while and then I drifted out of the game.”

Norris tries to get up to Scarborough as much as possible because he still has a huge soft spot for the town.

“When I came up in the summer, I was sent on a diversion through Seamer and a few other places. You forget how nice the place is.

“We had a great house in Newby when I played for Scarborough FC, it is just a beautiful part of the country.

“I’m hopefully coming up for a golf day in Scarborough in the summer, which I’m looking forward to.

“All the lads from that team try to get together as much as we can, so hopefully we’ll be having a get together as well.”