Holt wants Canaries to draw on experience of title joy to shake off relegation hangover
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020
As Norwich City announced an extension of their commercial partnership with brewery Woodforde’s, David Freezer caught up with Canaries legend Grant Holt to look ahead to the new season
Grant Holt knows all about how to help Norwich City shake off a relegation hangover.
The striker joined when the Canaries were at their lowest point in over 50 years, moving from Shrewsbury for around £400,000 after relegation to League One in 2009.
After a terrible start which saw Paul Lambert brought in as manager, Holt then drove City all the way to Premier League stability, as the talisman of back-to-back promotions, scoring 78 goals in 168 games between 2009 and 2013, and being voted Player of the Season in three consecutive years.
The Canaries are currently in the thick of their latest rebuild, after a brilliant Championship title success was followed by a miserable relegation from the Premier League, and Holt is feeling full of optimism about the campaign ahead.
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“They’ve got to do what they did when they won it,” he said, when asked how to shake off a relegation hangover. “The lads who have done it before all know what it takes and the new lads will buy into it because there’s a reason they’ve signed - because they want to be successful.
“They’re coming to a club that, yes, we’ve been relegated a few times, but we’ve also been promoted quite a few times.
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“You’ve got to get it out of your head, relegation is relegation, staying in the Premier League is tough.
“We’ve got a football club that is financially stable, we’ve got fantastic assets in the building, we’ve got a training ground which has just been finished off which is probably one of the best in the country now in terms of the academy and the pitches that we’ve got. That’s where our future will be, we need to bring players through the academy.
“The academy is in a great place and look how we brought through at the end of last season, the likes of Josh Martin and Adam Idah coming through, so what more do you want as a football club?”
The 39-year-old works as a National League pundit and also works with City’s academy players one day a week as he continues to pursue a coaching career.
He is still playing as well, for Wroxham when he can, and isn’t hanging up his boots just yet.
Holt was speaking in his role as an ambassador for the Canaries at the Fur and Feather pub in Woodbastwick, alongside fellow City legend Darren Huckerby, as an extension of a commercial partnership with the Woodforde’s brewery was announced.
“I’m still doing it, doing pre-season and I’ve got a game tonight – so I won’t be having too many beers here today, I’ll just have one,” Holt said, speaking on Tuesday.
“I’ll keep going as long as I can and nothing gets in the way, if the job stops me playing, that’s when I stop.”
It’s been a strange year for those working in the game, with the coronavirus pandemic causing seasons to be suspended or cancelled in March, with those that resumed being without spectators at games.
“To be brutally honest I’ve quite enjoyed it,” Holt said of the break from live football. “It’s been nice to sit at home with the kids and have a bit of time.
“But in terms of watching it and stuff, it’s been a killer, trying to watch the games, no fans. I can’t have the fake noise in the background, I don’t really get it.
“It is a bit strange but it’s one of those things that you kind of get on with. The sooner we can get back in the stadiums, the better, but when it’s right to do so.”
The former Nottingham Forest and Shrewsbury striker has had the enjoyment of seeing two of his former clubs promoted, with Barrow reaching the Football League and King’s Lynn Town elevated to the National League - which has allowed them to sign Canaries youngsters Simon Power and Archie Mair on loan.
“I’m absolutely delighted for Ian Culverhouse to finally get up,” he said of Lynn’s promotion. “It’s great for us to have a club like them on the doorstep for us in the National League, so I’m looking forward to covering them next season.
“It’s a big test, like we just said with Barrow going into League Two, the National League is no different to going into League Two at the moment, in terms of the quality in there. We send our lads out on loan here there and everywhere. To now have a National League club on the doorstep is fantastic for the club.”
On the extension of City’s partnership with Woodforde’s, Holt concluded: “I think it’s worked, really well. As a football club that’s what branding is all about and the commercial things we have to do.
“At the moment to get the contract that they’ve just signed, in the (financial) climate that we’re in, it’s phenomenal really that the two parties have come together to continue that.”
- You can watch our full catch up with Holt at Woodforde’s, as well as City’s head of commercial operations Sam Jeffery, in the video above