Derby win was every bit as good as the derby win

As sales pitches go, it’s a pretty darn good one. Just as 21,000 season ticket-holders receive the same letter and glossy brochure asking us to come back for 2011-12, the players show us what we could be missing dare we not renew.

For some, it will be a straightforward choice made in an instant. You will tick that off the to-do list straight away.

But for others, perhaps those particularly affected by the recession or hit by some of the price rises, the decision will be tough, and potentially more painful.

Whichever camp you are in, there could not have been any better way to promote the goods on offer than with the most recent performances against Ipswich and Derby.

I would probably situate myself in the first category and Mr McNally should expect a positive reply from me within the next few days.

Heck, they have me in such a good mood at the moment I may even throw in a Christmas card.

Yet despite the decision being a relatively easy one, the annual season ticket begging letter is always a good moment to evaluate the present stock of a Norwich City fan.

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And even the most grumpy of Canary devotees has to admit that, at this current moment in time, it feels pretty good following the boys in yellow and green.

Were I to have a running list of my best and worst moments following the club – which thanks to this column I now do – I can safely say the 4-1 victory against Ipswich deserves a place in the top five.

Yet while that result may have provided more overall satisfaction due to it being such a classy defeat against our bitter rivals, in pure football terms the 2-1 victory at Derby was just as satisfying.

It’s not just the results that have proved so pleasing in the past two games — but the manner in which we have gained them. The standard of play has been superb.

Where has this sudden form come from, you may think?

And, granted, five matches without a victory prior to the Ipswich game made it look like City were struggling.

But, results apart, this was a false impression as the standard of performance has been growing for several weeks now.

Better pundits than me predicted that someone was about to get a hiding and fortunately that someone was Ipswich.

However, during the last two games performances have gone up yet another level.

Paul Lambert can, quite rightly, play it down all he likes, but at the moment the Canaries are playing some of the best football fans have enjoyed in years. Since our last successful promotion to the top tier, in my opinion.

It seems to have gone largely unnoticed that in Holt’s third goal against Ipswich, 10 Norwich players – all bar Russell Martin – played a part in the move without a rival player getting a sniff. The goal was Arsenal-esque in its delivery.

Meanwhile, some of the passing at Pride Park on Sunday, particularly in the earlier stages, would have torn apart many Premier League teams.

But in so many other areas things have improved.

Effort levels seem higher. Opposition defences are being made nervous wrecks as our strikers chase them down at every opportunity.

In the flanks, the players, particularly Russell Martin and Simon Lappin, are tearing up and down like two greyhounds chasing a hare.

With the impressive David Fox sitting in the hole and the rest allowed to roam free our midfield is at times unplayable.

And it doesn’t need me to highlight just how good Henri Lansbury is.

Our centre-backs continue to impress, but with increased security provided by an in-form John Ruddy.

On the bench, things suddenly look improved and in Simeon Jackson, Michael Nelson, and Anthony McNamee et al, we suddenly look like a club possessing strength in depth.

Even off the field the message is one of improvement, as shown by the positive messages coming from the release of the latest set of accounts.

Yes, I am getting carried away. By Saturday we could come crashing back down to earth with a bump.

But if we are to criticise and be miserable when things are not going well, why shouldn’t we be prepared to be happy and hand out praise when things are going right?

Because if there is one thing to be learned from listing the high and lows of our club, it’s that we should all enjoy the good times when they come because in recent years they have been far too often outweighed by the bad.


1. The UEFA Cup home leg against Inter Milan. We may have beaten Bayern Munich in the earlier round but for some reason this match meant more. Officially one of only two times I have shed man tears at a football match.

2. The 1-1 home draw against Bayern Munich, securing a 3-2 aggregate victory. Another Jeremy Goss goal, Bryan Gunn’s miraculous save and an awesome atmosphere – what a night.

3. Strange to pick a game from a relegation season but the 3-0 home victory against Ipswich in 1995 stands out. An ageing John Wark gets sent off prompting chants of “Hang yer boots up, hang yer boots up, hang yer boots up, Johnny Wark”. My first full season in the Barclay and at this moment it felt good.

4. Last season’s 1-0 victory at Charlton, the place where 12 months earlier our fate had been sealed. Like many, I have so many bad memories of The Valley, all of which were exorcised when the final whistle blew.

5. Grant Holt’s derby day hat-trick as Norwich blew away their rivals in front of the television cameras.


1. The play-off final against Birmingham in 2002. If ever a game highlighted the rollercoaster emotions of a football fan this was it. One minute we were up – Iwan Roberts’ extra-time goal – and only minutes later we were down with a 4-2 penalty shoot-out defeat. The other moment man tears were shed.

2. The 4-2 away game against Charlton in which relegation was officially sealed. Being an optimist I still had hope we would escape, but it was clear a few minutes in that the players had given up hope — and with it effort.

3. It has to be the 7-1 defeat at home to Colchester. Even now it feels like a nightmare that possibly didn’t even happen. Did it?

4. Not just relegation but total humiliation in our 6-0 defeat at Fulham. The only one on either lists I wasn’t present for. Watching it on TV did not make it any easier.

5. Norwich 1, Aston Villa 1, May 1995. Relegation had been sealed, ensuring we all had 90 minutes in which to wallow in just how quickly our team had sunk thanks to the loss of manager Mike Walker and our best players.