Raise a toast to Gibbo and Norwich City
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Limited
There appears something about Ben Gibson and Norwich City celebrations the cultured centre back is yet to get the hang of.
The engaging defender was part of a Middlesbrough squad who arrived late for a Wembley play-off final tussle against the Canaries in 2015 that ended with a post-match wake rather than a party for the defeated Teessiders, following Norwich’s famous 2-0 win.
Now Gibson is in green and yellow, following a hugely successful season long loan move from Burnley that will end with a return to the Premier League, and a permanent move to Carrow Road.
But the ankle injury that curtailed his campaign at the heart of the Canaries’ backline also robbed him of a special personal moment when promotion was finally confirmed earlier this month.
Daniel Farke’s squad were at their pre-match team hotel preparing for a late Saturday night kick-off against Bournemouth, when slip ups for both Swansea and Brentford confirmed their promotion.
Gibson was at Colney continuing his rehab, and the sweet realisation it was mission accomplished came with a bittersweet twist.
“You probably have more downs than ups in your career, and you don’t tend to have a moment like this too often when you are part of a group who have done so well,” he said. “I was a bit hurt because I wanted to be with the team so it was a strange feeling. I didn’t really know what to do.
"It was great to be with the staff but you play all season with the lads. Without being selfish it is a moment like that when you wish you were fit and with the boys.
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"I was at the training ground getting some treatment and the boys were obviously at the team hotel preparing for that Bournemouth game. We joined up at the game and had a good time afterwards.
"Dancing on the pitch in my crutches was not the brightest idea, but you feel in the moment you have to celebrate.”
Gibson, speaking as a guest on the club’s latest episode of their official podcast, All In Yellow, believes the achievement of Farke's squad this season will stand the test of time.
“We have felt unstoppable at times. We expected it but just to get it over the line was maybe not a relief, but a pat on the back,” he said. “That is what we were fighting for all season and to do it so early is a phenomenal achievement.
"You ask any of them boys, we loved every minute of playing together. Every minute has been enjoyable.
"That is why it was hard from a selfish point of view to have that taken away from you through injury at the point it felt we had done the hard work. When you are retired and old you will look back at the games where you won promotion or hopefully the league.
"But the positive is doing the ankle at that time in the season means I will be fit and back for pre-season ahead of the Premier League.”
For a homegrown Boro prospect, that 2015 Wembley play-off defeat to Alex Neil’s Canaries is another painful chapter in Gibson’s career.
“It was awful,” he said. “I remember we had a party booked. They flew all our families down the day before on private planes and put them in a hotel. We didn’t underestimate Norwich, but we had won 4-0 and 1-0 in the league and we were confident. But from the morning of the game itself it was a disaster.
"We turned up an hour late to Wembley, the richest game in English football and we were caught in traffic. I remember we were going out for our warm up as the Norwich players were coming back from finishing their warm up.
“To be honest we started the game like that. Norwich blew us away in 20 minutes and the game was done. It then felt like we were running through treacle for 70 minutes, we had all the possession but never got close to breaking Norwich down. They fully deserved the win.
“The feelings after were horrendous. You thought about how long you had waited for that moment. I don’t know how many fans were there but both ends were full. The atmosphere was amazing. It was the biggest low ever.
"We had the party that night and it was horrific. At least the first couple of hours until the alcohol kicked in. The next day we flew back and it was, 'where do we go from here?'
“The only reason I can speak about that experience now is we got promoted the following season and laid it to rest. Although the masseurs here now at Norwich don’t let me forget it.
"That is the only reason I can have a laugh and a joke.”