Cult Heroes: Robert Fleck
Al – @flatbackthree
Over the years, there have been numerous Norwich City heroes. But only a select few enjoy cult status. Amongst these is Robert Fleck, the tenacious Scot who won fans over with his work-rate, goals and cheeky grin.
His career began at Rangers where 29 goals in 85 appearances made him a prized asset in Glasgow. He wasn’t assured of a starting place though, and after falling out with Graeme Souness, Dave Stringer signed Fleck for £580,000 in 1987.
During his first spell at Norwich, Fleck endeared himself to fans by being the top scorer for four consecutive seasons. He scored a very impressive 66 goals in just 181 games. In today’s market, how much would a top-flight striker be worth with a record like that?
In 1989, Fleck helped Norwich to 4th place in the league, as well as the last four in the F.A. Cup. Sadly, Fleck missed the semi-final against Everton after his Dad passed away the night before. The news rocked Norwich City and they duly lost the tie.
On a brighter note, one of Fleck’s most memorable goals from that season was the injury time winner in the 3-2 win at Millwall. A sublime volley from the edge of the box sealed the win, sending the Norwich fans wild. It was a great showcase on national television for the team at that time, as well as demonstrating the classy finishing Fleck was capable of.
Later, during the 1992 season, supporters of that time will no doubt remember the media-circus that surrounded Fleck’s rehabilitation from two broken ribs in the run-up to another F.A. Cup semi-final. Fleck used an oxygen tank to aid his recovery, and rumours even suggested that Fleck slept in it. But the truth is that he was never allowed more than 45 minutes in the tank at a time. Fleck managed to make the starting line-up for the semi-final against Sunderland but was a shadow of himself, while the match ended in a surprise defeat for Norwich
Whilst Fleck scored lots of goals during his time at Norwich, much of his work was done outside the box – something not lost on supporters. His subsequent move to Chelsea for a club record fee of £2.1m didn’t work out in terms of goals scored (4 in 48 games) but the Chelsea fans still held him dear, giving him his very own song.
Fleck returned for a second spell with Norwich in 1995 but never quite recaptured the same form as in his first spell. He played in a deeper role rather than as an out and out striker, looking to link play and create chances for his team-mates. In this second spell at the club he still scored 25 goals in 111 appearances.
Fleck’s professional football career came to an end in 1999 whilst playing for Reading, retiring with a back injury. Football fans all around the world respect players that give their all for a club. Fleck was one of those players who you could rely on to do just that. His hunger and desire to win was always evident, rubbing off on his team-mates and the crowd alike.
Fleck’s contribution to the City cause left him 4th in the list of Norwich City all-time goal-scorers. His form for Norwich earned him call-ups to the Scotland squad, including two caps at the 1990 World Cup. He won the Norwich City Player of the Year in 1992. And in 2002, he became a deserved member of the club’s Hall of Fame.
Whilst Fleck currently has no involvement in football, he appears to be content with his lot, now working as a teaching assistant for special-needs children in Norwich. Always a crowd favourite, Robert Fleck gave everything for the City cause and deservedly holds cult status with the Canary faithful.