Superhero Holt falls just short of deserving a cape

Chris Goreham
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
10:51 AM

I had a hunch that Grant Holt would have a big say in the outcome of Norwich City’s match against QPR on Saturday.

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After what he has done since joining the Canaries I suppose picking out Holt as a potential match-winner doesn’t really count as sticking one’s neck out very far at all.

That was goal number 57 by Grant Holt since he joined in the summer of 2009. To be closing in on 60 goals within two and a half years of signing is some achievement and they keep on coming even though he is far from guaranteed a starting place these days.

Three of Holt’s four Premier League goals so far have come in games he has not started.

A fine header in front of The Kop snatched an impressive point at Liverpool and a week later he thumped home a stoppage time penalty against Blackburn to make the score 3-3. Against QPR the Canaries’ club captain needed just three minutes of game time to produce what proved to be the winning goal.

I won’t call him ’super sub’, no player likes to be labelled with that, but there is an argument to say that a phonebox should be installed on the Carrow Road touchline for Grant Holt to go into just before he’s going to be brought on.

He would enter wearing his tracksuit, spin round really fast and emerge in his playing kit. I’ll stop short of suggesting he starts playing in a cape.

The stage seemed set for him on Saturday because of the presence of the Premier League’s Dick Dastardly, Neil Warnock, on the opposition bench.

The pair have a lot in common in that they both get booed at most away grounds but seem to thrive on it and refuse to shy away from confrontation. Warnock and Holt disprove the tiresome but often heard complaint about there being ’no characters in modern football.

Such is the reputation of the QPR boss as a pantomime villain that people seem to look forward to the opportunity of jeering him.

It took about 24 minutes of Saturday’s game, by which time QPR were 1-0 down, for Warnock to have his first full on hissy fit in the face of the fourth official.

It was the moment those who have seats behind the dugouts at Carrow Road had been waiting for and there were some audible chuckles and a collective rubbing of hands together as football’s most famous furrowed brow made its first appearance.

Last season as Norwich and QPR battled to win The Championship Grant Holt found himself in the firing line of Warnock’s much used scattergun of rants, excuses and complaints after matches.

He criticised the City number 9’s style of play following Rangers defender Matt Connolly’s red card at Carrow Road on New Year’s Day. It was for that reason that the stage seemed set for our not-yet-caped (or capped) crusader on Saturday.

I would have asked Holt if getting one over on Neil Warnock made his latest Norwich goal among the sweetest and most enjoyable of the 57 but just as we began our post-match interview the QPR manager himself emerged from the tunnel and started another interview about 10 feet away and certainly within earshot.

You can call me a coward if you like but I had another one of my hunches that there’d be trouble if I went down that line of questioning.

• JUST SEVEN POINTS NEEDED TO REIN IN THE OLD ENEMY

Norwich City supporters may have left Carrow Road happy on Saturday but they were deprived one minor piece of fun.

Cheering an Ipswich Town defeat when the results from the other games appear on the scoreboard is part of the ritual but it looked as though it had been a good day all round for East Anglian football and a bad one for teams who wear blue and white hoops when Ipswich 2, Reading 1 flashed up to the sound of minor disappointment at Carrow Road.

It was only on getting back to the car that people will have found out Reading managed to score not once, but twice in stoppage time to turn things round.

I found out when I congratulated another reporter at the Norwich game who I knew to be an Ipswich fan (I won’t name him) on an apparent upturn in fortune for his side.

As far as I knew they’d won 2-1 so it was difficult to understand why he shot down my attempt at good sportsmanship with such a dirty look.

He took some convincing that I wasn’t mischief making as he broke the news of Reading’s late comeback to me through gritted teeth.

With no East Anglian Derbies this season fans may be missing that extra bit of local rivalry spice that being in the same division as your neighbours adds to a a campaign but there is still plenty of pride for Norwich City to play for.

I stumbled across the All-Time Premier League table on the internet the other day which has a complete record of how teams have fared in the top flight since 1992/93.

Norwich are currently 30th with 217 points from 177 games but guess who is 29th? That’s right, our friends from down the A140 with 224 points having played 202 Premier League matches.

The Canaries have the superior goal difference (-54 plays -93) so Norwich City need just seven more points to go above Ipswich.

Monday was the first anniversary of Grant Holt’s hat-trick so it seemed like a good time to bring up the next battle for local pride which needs winning.

Not surprisingly Manchester United lead the all-time league having amassed 1,604 points in their 747 matches since the advent of the Premier League.

That puts them 202 points clear of second place Arsenal. There’s no need to give up hope of catching them yet though, not when we’ve got 570 games in hand.

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