Norman Bullock was appointed Leicester City’s manager in December 1949, replacing club legend Johnny Duncan who had taken Second Division Leicester City to their first ever FA Cup Final seven months earlier.
He arrived with a good reputation. Between 1920 and 1934, he made 506 appearances for Bury, many of them in the old First Division.
He also won three England caps as a centre-forward. He managed Bury from 1934-1938, Chesterfield from 1938-1945, and Bury again from 1945 until his arrival at Filbert Street.
Bullock arrived at the Club with a well publicised ‘Five-Year Plan’ aimed at restoring Leicester City to the top Division. On his arrival, Bullock quickly concluded that the Club was being run by the senior players. He wanted to change this.
Sep Smith, Don Revie, Ken Chisholm and Billy Frame soon left Filbert Street. He then brought in some great players, who went on to have an enormous influence at Filbert Street.
These included his nemesis, the skilful ex-England inside-forward Johnny Morris, the phenomenal goalscorer Arthur Rowley from Fulham, the ex-England international centre-half and outside-left Jack Froggatt from Portsmouth and Matt Gillies, a centre-half from Bolton Wanderers.
Johnny Morris, Norman Bullock, Matt Gillies and Len Shipman
Johnny Morris, Norman Bullock, Matt Gillies and Len Shipman.
Bullock was a hard taskmaster and a disciplinarian. He introduced a new set of rules including one which forbade players to travel on a motorbike, either as a driver or pillion passenger.
His ‘Five Year Plan’ worked. Leicester City won the Second Division title in April 1954. That season, Bullock’s philosophy of “Attack! Attack! Attack!” accounted for the team, spearheaded by Arthur Rowley and Derek Hines, scoring a then club record 97 league goals.
Despite this, Leicester City only clinched promotion by winning their last game of the season at Brentford. They beat Everton to the Second Division title on goal average (which was used instead of goal difference). The margin was 0.3 of a goal. It was one of the closest title races in history.
Ten months later, Bullock was sacked. The team struggled in the top flight. By Christmas they were bottom-but-one in the table.
Bullock’s position was further undermined by two breaches of discipline by record signing Johnny Morris. The most significant was a “serious incident” on February 5 1955 at the Rex Hotel in Whitley Bay following a game against Newcastle United.
At an emergency meeting the next day, the directors engineered Bullock’s resignation by suspending Morris for only 14 days. Bullock found this unacceptable and resigned.
Bullock was given £1,000 compensation, three months wages, three months rent free in his club house and the opportunity to buy his club car, a Hillman Minx, for £100. The directors picked the team for the rest of the season and Leicester City were relegated from the top flight.
Bullock turned his back on football. Leicester City Chairman Len Shipman provided the opportunity for Bullock to buy a small printing business, which became a great success. Bullock died in 1970. Today, he is included in Managers’ Hall of Fame display in the Directors’ Lounge at King Power Stadium.
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