Thanks for everything, Darren
PUBLISHED: 15:51 26 April 2008 | UPDATED: 15:32 10 September 2010
The date was 25th December 2003. The time was around 8.00pm. I can still remember it well. We had just returned from Christmas lunch at my in-laws, when my phone sprung into life.
The date was 25th December 2003. The time was around 8.00pm. I can still remember it well. We had just returned from Christmas lunch at my in-laws, when my phone sprung into life. Beep Beep it sounded as a text arrived.
I expected to read another Christmas greetings message. This one was different. Very different. It was from a friend in Norwich. All it said was “He's signed”.
I dashed into the living room to give out the good news. After all the “Will he” and “Won't he” speculation of the preceding couple of weeks, I couldn't quite believe it. Darren Huckerby had finally signed on a permanent basis for City.
Huckerby's first game after his signing was a much an anticlimax as his last on-loan game was a fantastic occasion. He was paired up-front with Leon McKenzie, and City stuttered to a single goal loss at home to Bradford. Worst of all, the winner was scored by an ex-Ipswich player.
After that initial setback, an inspired Norwich swept to the Division 1 title, and Huckerby top scoring with fourteen, the pick of which was a sublime goal against Wigan. He should have won player of the season, but the sympathetic vote went to the ever-present Craig Fleming.
In the Premiership and the season after he was our main attacking force. Stop Huckerby and you stop Norwich was the way that the opposition approached games. He almost always found himself with two men to beat and was often the only outlet as we played these two seasons without a recognised right-winger.
In the 2006/07 season, Darren Huckerby provided me with two of my most memorable moments of watching Norwich. That goal against Birmingham when he ran three quarters of the length of the pitch to score in front of the Barclay was one of the best goals I have ever seen at Carrow Road. The other was when my elder daughter Gemma ran out with him at QPR as the Norwich City away mascot. He still is Gemma's first football hero, and the player who she always wants to come and see play.
Huckerby's second player of the season trophy was well deserved. His post-Christmas form helped to pull us away from the drop zone where at one stage we were only one win away from the bottom three.
This season, we have seen occasional flashes of his old brilliance, but seemingly hampered though injury, Huckerby has been a peripheral figure until the last couple of months. Recently he has been back to near his best and much sharper, and he has once again started to look like the Huckerby of old.
We are now back to the “Will he” and “Wont he” speculation, and whether Huckerby will be offered another contract. Compared to December 2003 though, this time the situation is much different. In 2003 it was Huckerby's choice to join promotion chasing Norwich. This time Glenn Roeder will be the one to offer a deal, and we are also at the wrong end of the Championship. If the worst was to happen, and City were relegated, could we afford Huckerby if we are in League 1? Would he want to play in League 1?
Regardless of what decision is made (from a personal point of view I hope he stays for another season), I feel privileged to have watched Darren Huckerby play for Norwich over the last five seasons.
Thanks for everything Darren and I hope to see you next season.