Christmas 2003 wasn’t really like a lot of previous festive seasons – not if you are a Norwich City fan.

Everyone of a yellow and green persuasion was waiting for one particular gift with the eager anticipation of a six-year-old who’d been extra good for 365 days.

The fans had to wait a day longer, but not long before 3pm on Boxing Day, Santa, dressed up as Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones, duly delivered Darren Huckerby on to the Carrow Road pitch ahead of the game against Nottingham Forest.

All bar one corner of the ground roared its approval.

They’d had their taste of Huckerby during a three-month loan spell from Manchester City and they liked (adored) what they saw.

What happened when his loan ended, though, was enough to set the nerves jangling. It was the stuff of dreams and nightmares - Huckerby and his agent John Smith seemed to be at loggerheads at times, while the financial side of the deal had Norwich jumping through all sorts of hoops to make the deal.

It genuinely was the biggest story in town.

In headline form, it went a bit like this…

December 1: Darren’s different dimension pays off

December 11: Huckerby WILL leave on Saturday

December 16: Huckerby fee is agreed

December 18: New twist in fight for Huckerby

December 24: Delia delivers, Darren says no

December 27: Yule do for us, Darren

Huckerby had made his debut on September 13 in a home win over Burnley. He started alongside fellow loan players Peter Crouch and Kevin Harper. His last loan appearance was exactly three months later, when he signed off with the opening goal in a 4-1 home win over Cardiff. It meant he missed the 1-0 win at Ipswich when City went top of the old First Division - and stayed there. Business resumed on January 3 in an FA Cup defeat at Everton.

It was the pregnant pause that caused the intrigue, with all parties dropping all sorts of hints…

Huckerby: “I would have to take a pay cut no doubt about that. I’m not stupid, there’s not the money in Division One that there was. But I don’t think that’s the biggest problem, I don’t think it will get that far, it’s irrelevant really. If I had the choice I’d love to stay and play for Norwich City, but it’s not down to me.”

Nigel Worthington: “Darren will go back. We’ve spoken to Manchester City and all the figures potentially to be added up are way in excess of where Norwich City is at this moment in time.”

Huckerby’s agent Phil Smith: “It would be very difficult for Darren to entertain a permanent move into the Nationwide League. We will speak to West Brom and Norwich in due course, but we also believe there are other clubs interested in him who are operating at a higher level.”

Huckerby statement (via Smith on December 23): “It became clear, first last night and again this morning, that Norwich were expecting more manoeuvrability from myself and Manchester City than they were prepared to do themselves, to the point where I have been forced to ask the question: just how much did Norwich want me in the first place?”

Then came arguably the biggest drama as Huckerby, seemingly angry with that statement, told Worthington he would be bypassing the agent and speaking to Manchester City himself.

Speculation was at roof-raising levels. The rumour mill was powering half the city.

Then out stepped Huckerby just before kick-off.

The rest, as they say, is a magnificent history of one of Norwich City’s favourite sons.