Norwich City top 100 appearances: Craig Fleming (11) – He was warned what would happen

PUBLISHED: 14:58 27 June 2017 | UPDATED: 14:58 27 June 2017

Craig Fleming during his testimonial game against Newcastle.
Picture: 
Archant

Craig Fleming during his testimonial game against Newcastle. Picture: Archant

Archant © 2006

382 appearances/13 goals

Craig Fleming forged a formidable central defensive pairing with Malky Mackay. Picture: Nick ButcherCraig Fleming forged a formidable central defensive pairing with Malky Mackay. Picture: Nick Butcher

Craig Fleming had been warned. He may have been only 25 at the time – but Norfolk has that effect on people.

The defender had always enjoyed a good feeling in these parts, which made his decision to leave Oldham in 1997 for £600,000 that bit easier. A decade later, Fleming was being celebrated as a true City stalwart.

“I’m higher up the list than I thought,” smiled Fleming. “I’d started in the Premier League with Oldham as an 18-year-old and to be honest, Carrow Road was one of those grounds where I’d always done quite well at.

“You get that as a player. There are some places where you always seem to have a decent game, so I always had quite a nice feel for it.

“I always enjoyed playing at Carrow Road. It just felt right, even when I wasn’t playing for Norwich. You never have a clue you’ll spend that long somewhere when you first join, but obviously I did my homework on the place.

“I remember speaking to Joe Royle who’d spent a bit of time there and he basically said I’d end up retiring there if I go, it’s fantastic. So I’d been pre-warned to be honest with you. But to end up with what happened there, I didn’t think that would be the case when I first moved.

MORE: Bradley Johnson looks back on his time at Carrow Road – and his possible future

“I didn’t quite retire there because I had a little spell at Rotherham afterwards, but I’d more or less retired if I’m being honest with you.”

Fleming recalls City’s 2002 play-off final defeat to Birmingham on penalties “a low point and a high point all in one day”. But the second tier title of 2004 was the standout, and for more than one reason for Fleming.

“It was like a double whammy – winning the league and getting promoted, and then getting player of the season as well,” he added.

“I’d been runner up to Iwan (Roberts) a couple of times, so it was nice to finally get it. It was a massive honour to get it that year, but to be honest it probably could’ve been one from about 12 I would’ve thought. If any of us had got it that year, I don’t think anyone would’ve complained.”

Fleming’s 10 years were rewarded with a testimonial too – although his July 2006 fixture and apocalyptic downpour were not entirely in the spirit of the cause.

Take in our journey through Norwich City’s top 100 appearance makers this summer

“It was a bit surreal to be honest,” added Fleming. “I remember it was a proper competitive game. Glenn Roeder was Newcastle manager at the time and he brought some Irish international winger off the bench towards the end, and I was playing right-back.

“This winger was absolutely lightening and I just remember Glenn shouting ‘get at him, get at him’ – and I thought, you haven’t really read this one have you?

“It wasn’t a normal testimonial where I end up scoring a penalty in the last five minutes. Instead I got the runaround from some kid.

Fleming added: “Maybe I stayed a little to long, but I didn’t want to play anywhere else. That was the truth of it.”

For the latest Norwich City news and opinion follow Michael Bailey on Twitter @michaeljbailey and Facebook @mbjourno

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